Point Blue’s Rangeland Monitoring Network seeks to preserve the ecological value of rangelands and recommend conservation actions that enhance their function for people and wildlife.  To accomplish this it seeks to understand and measure ecological function of rangelands and increase communication and collaboration among managers across California.
 

We provide standardized yet flexible ways to capture key components of ecological function and offer landowners data they can use to make management decisions.


The Network is open to participation by anyone managing or working on rangelands. Many of the sites we are monitoring are working rangelands where conservation practices are being implemented by private landowners/managers through the NRCS Conservation Planning process as part of our Rangeland Watershed Initiative.


 

Objectives

The objectives of the Rangeland Monitoring Network are to:

 

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Metrics

The metrics we are using to measure ecological function are:

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Protocols and Forms

 

Handbook

The protocols for data collection used by ecologists in the Rangeland Monitoring Network are described in the Rangeland Monitoring Network Handbook. This handbook provides background information, rationale and study design, references, and written methodology.  It is designed to take Rangeland Monitoring Network participants step-by-step through the monitoring process.

There are many excellent handbooks and resources on rangeland study that have guided the development of this handbook and provide informative further reading, in particular, Measuring Soil Carbon Change: a Flexible, Practical, Local Method (Donovan 2013), Monitoring Manual for Grassland, Shrubland and Savanna Ecosystems, Vols. 1 & 2 (Herrick et al. 2005 a & b), and the Soil Quality Test Kit (NRCS 1999).  The Rangeland Monitoring Network Handbook is not designed to replace these other resources, but instead is designed to describe in detail the sampling protocols used for Point Blue’s Rangeland Monitoring Network.

Field Data Forms

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Data Entry

Bird and soil survey data can be entered in the California Avian Data Center (CADC), a regional node of the Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) hosted by Point Blue Conservation Science. CADC integrates data on birds and ecosystems, currently managing more than 50 million bird observations for California spanning more than 40 years. Visit CADC to enter and download data.

We currently do not have online data entry capability for vegetation surveys. Following this pilot year testing and comparing the three vegetation protocols, we will develop a similar data entry platform.

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Case Studies

TomKat Ranch. In 2015, Point Blue Conservation Science sampled soil at 30 sites across TomKat Ranch to evaluate soil, vegetation, and bird abundance. Using the data on organic carbon content, soil bulk density, and water infiltration rates we graded points across the ranch as having either high or low soil quality. These data have been used to guide management decisions on the ranch, including the location of compost applications to improve soil quality. This example illustrates the utility of Rangeland Monitoring Network data to an individual ranch.

Statewide patterns. Based on our initial results of our initial year of surveys, we investigated statewide patterns in soil carbon and bulk density.  Our results showed that bulk density and soil carbon are negatively correlated, and that soils from coastal ranches typically had greater soil carbon and less bulk density than soil from ranches in inland counties.  These results show the utility of the Rangeland Monitoring Network to describe broad-scale patterns of factors that influence the ecosystem function of rangeland soils. 

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Publications and Reports

Henneman, C., N.E. Seavy, and T. Gardali.  2014. Restoring native perennial grasses by changing grazing practices in Central Coastal California.  Ecological Restoration 32: 352-354.

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Partners

Some of our key partners at present are the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), TomKat Ranch Education Foundation, and several private landowners throughout north-central California. Information we collect on private lands is protected and private.

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