Millions of hectares of semi-arid rangeland in the western United States have been or are being invaded by introduced annual weeds that negatively impact ecosystem services and pose a major conservation threat. Rehabilitation and restoration of these rangelands are challenging because of high annual and seasonal variability in weather that impacts germination of seeded species, survival and establishment of seedlings, annual weed dynamics, wildfire frequency and soil stability.
The restoration toolbox would be greatly enhanced if rangeland restoration planners could incorporate knowledge of weather and weather variability into the planning process.
On this site, we provide tools and methodology to develop a weather-centric understanding of the challenges presented by rangeland restoration. The current agency emphasis on long-term adaptive management will require an improved understanding of site variability (including weather) and the impact of variability on all of the processes contributing to establishment and survival of desirable plant communities that are also subject to continuing pressure from natural successional processes and the persistence of introduced annual weeds.
The current educational tools on this site can be used to assess the impacts of annual and seasonal weather, soils, topography and location on site availability for the establishment of both desirable species and their weedy competitors. The current training modules provide an introduction to weather and site effects on the microclimate that seeded species will experience in the field. These exercises are an introduction to concepts that will need to be incorporated into weather-centric strategies for rangeland restoration planning.
Module 1 – Weather Variability (Time and Space)
Module 2 – Weather and Microclimate (Soils and Topography)
Module 3 – Microclimate and Plant Response (Germination and Emergence Syndromes)
Future educational modules will build on this foundation to describe:
- How seasonal forecasting might be used for real time restoration planning and management.
- A mechanistic basis for assessing site characteristics that can support resistant and resilient perennial plant communities.
- Long-term expectations for rangeland restoration planning under alternative future climate scenarios.
- How weather variability might be incorporated into adaptive-management/contingency-planning under the NEPA process.
- Strategies for integrating Emergency Stabilization (ES) and Burned Area Rehabilitation (BAR) into the longer-term planning process for rangeland restoration.