Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Key Areas

Key areas are sampling sites deliberately selected, based mainly on professional judgement, in rangeland inventory or monitoring programs to be representative of the entire management unit. Data from key areas are interpreted as an indicative guide of average responses to land use throughout the management unit.

As a type of selected sampling, the capacity of a key area to represent the entire area depends on the experience and skill of observers selecting the location. In general, key areas should represent common range sites of the management unit, and address the objectives of the monitoring program. For example, when monitoring utilization, key areas should provide important sources of forage, but not be too close nor too distant from water points since neither of those locations will be a typical indication of grazing patterns over the entire area.

References and Further Reading

Bureau of Land Management. 1996. Sampling vegetation attributes. Interagency Technical Reference, BLM/RS/ST-96/002+1730. pp 2-3.

Holechek, J.L., Pieper, R.D., and C.H. Herbel. 1995. Range management principles and practices. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 2nd ed. pp 204-205.

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 2-3, 9-10.

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 2-3.