A Remote Sensing Approach for Evaluating Brush Management Caused Transitions between Vegetation States

Society for Range Management ConferenceSociety for Range Management Conference, Spokane, WA, 28 January to 03 February 2012

Sapana Lohani, Chandra Holifield Collins, Philip Heilman, and Ronald L. Tiller

“State and transition models (STMs) have been gaining momentum in rangeland management. STMs are theoretical depictions of the variation due to climate, management, or both, of stable plant communities within ecological sites. For widespread application, maps of the vegetation states presented within these models are needed to allow managers to not only make better informed decisions about what management practices to employ to improve or maintain their rangelands, but to assess the effectiveness of management practices. This study used high-resolution satellite imagery and ground-based data to map vegetation states within identified ecological sites on the Empire Ranch, located within the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA) in southeastern Arizona. The resulting state map was used to assess the effectiveness of brush management practices to drive vegetation communities on several ecological sites from one state to another. The combination of remotely-sensed images, field monitoring, and state and transition models shows great potential as a means of mapping states and evaluating the benefits of established management practices to drive transitions from one vegetation state to another across large areas.”