Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring, and Evaluation:
General Principles

Introduction | General Principles | Sampling Concepts | Vegetation Attributes
Rangeland Evaluation | Management Applications | Chapter Outline

Reliable inventory and monitoring data are difficult to obtain in rangeland situations, which are characterized by extensive areas and considerable spatial and temporal in attributes. Although inventory and monitoring embrace many similar principles, different vegetation attributes and sampling methods are often required to meet the specific objectives of each process.

For example, inventories usually aim to provide a detailed overview of resources for the entire management unit. In this situation, sampling strategies should be chosen to give an accurate depiction of important attributes for the whole site, best obtained from observations at many locations. In contrast, monitoring is conducted over a duration of years, and usually limited to detecting range trends in selected areas and for key species. Furthermore, different personnel are often involved in collecting the repeated measurements during monitoring, meaning sampling strategies should be easy to follow and promote precise results that are free from observer variability.

Therefore, no single recipe can be prescribed as the design that will most efficiently measure rangeland attributes. Instead, sampling strategies must be tailored according to specific inventory or monitoring objectives, that govern the purposes of the data once it is collected. However, objectives must be devised to suit the type of vegetation being sampled and to accommodate the limits of time or labor skills. In many cases, further compromises must be reached between optimizing the accuracy and precision of sampling strategies with budgetary constraints.

References and Further Reading

Bureau of Land Management. 1996. Sampling vegetation attributes. Interagency Technical Reference, BLM/RS/ST-96/002+1730. pp 1-29.

McClaran, M.P., and D.N. Cole. 1993. Packstock in wilderness: Use, impacts, monitoring, and management. General Technical Report INT-301. Intermountain Research Station, United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Ogden, UT. pp 10-16.

Pieper, R.D. 1984. A critique of "Methods for Inventory and Monitoring of Vegetation, Litter, and Soil Surface Condition". In: National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. Developing strategies for rangeland management. Westview Press. pp 691-701.

Risser, P.G. 1984. Methods for inventory and monitoring of vegetation, litter, and soil surface condition. In: National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. Developing strategies for rangeland management. Westview Press. pp 647-690.

Nevada Range Studies Task Group. 1984. Nevada rangeland monitoring handbook. Soil Conservation Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, University of Nevada Reno, Agricultural Research Service and Range Consultants. September 1984. pp 1-49.

Smith, E.L., and G.B. Ruyle. 1991. Considerations when monitoring rangeland vegetation. G.B. Ruyle. (ed). Some Methods for Monitoring Rangelands and Other Natural Area Vegetation. University of Arizona, College of Agriculture, Extension Report 9043. pp 1-5.