The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implemented a nationwide program to identify and classify land units known as Ecological Sites.Â Ecological Sites constitute the basic subdivision for the ecological inventory and analysis of landscapes, and are distinguished by the presence distinctive physical and biological features which can be mapped using NRCS Soil Survey and related spatial data.Â First, we present our efforts to develop a model of soil-Ecological Site relationships based on existing data in Central Florida.Â Existing datasets include the NRCS's SSURGO database, and various spatially explicit and field verified maps of natural community distribution on Florida's public lands (i.e. the â€œCooperative Land Cover, version 2.2â€ map, available from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory).Â We show how Ecological Site concepts are developed from existing data sources and serve as â€œhypothetical Sitesâ€ for further refinement and verification via field inventory and literature review. Second, we a case study of how field verification compliments existing data analysis and interpretation.Â Specifically, we describe Yellow Sands Xeric Uplands Ecological Site based on soil properties, physical geography, as well as other ecological and bio-geographical drivers.Â Interpretation of existing site-specific data, coupled with our own field sampling, allowed us to identify specific soil and non-edaphic properties as drivers of natural vegetation distribution and successional dynamics.Â We present results from this on-going xeric uplands project in the context of Ecological Site inventory in Florida, and discuss how the soil-Ecological Site model will guide future ESI work.
Rangeland Ecology & Management
Get reliable science