Preprint Concept Paper Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

A Vegetation and Soil Survey Method for Surveillance Monitoring of Rangeland Environments

Version 1 : Received: 15 November 2019 / Approved: 15 November 2019 / Online: 15 November 2019 (08:56:27 CET)

How to cite: Sparrow, B.; Foulkes, J.; Wardle, G.; Leitch, E.; Caddy-Retalic, S.; van Leeuwen, S.; Tokmakoff, A.; Thurgate, N.; Guerin, G.; Lowe, A. A Vegetation and Soil Survey Method for Surveillance Monitoring of Rangeland Environments. Preprints 2019, 2019110178 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201911.0178.v1). Sparrow, B.; Foulkes, J.; Wardle, G.; Leitch, E.; Caddy-Retalic, S.; van Leeuwen, S.; Tokmakoff, A.; Thurgate, N.; Guerin, G.; Lowe, A. A Vegetation and Soil Survey Method for Surveillance Monitoring of Rangeland Environments. Preprints 2019, 2019110178 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201911.0178.v1).

Abstract

Ecosystem surveillance monitoring is critical to managing natural resources and especially so under changing environments. Despite this importance, the design and implementation of monitoring programs across large temporal and spatial scales has been hampered by the lack of appropriately standardised methods and data streams. To address this gap, we outline a surveillance monitoring method based on permanent plots and voucher samples suited to rangeland environments around the world that is repeatable, cost-effective, appropriate for large-scale comparisons and adaptable to other global biomes. The method provides comprehensive data on vegetation composition and structure along with soil attributes relevant to plant growth, delivered as a combination of modules that can be targeted for different purposes or available resources. Plots are located in a stratified design across vegetation units, landforms and climates to enhance continental and global comparisons. Changes are investigated through revisits. Vegetation is measured to inform on composition, cover and structure. Samples of vegetation and soils are collected and tracked by barcode labels and stored long-term for subsequent analysis. Technology is used to enhance the accuracy of field methods, including differential GPS r plot locations, instrument based Leaf Area Index (LAI) measures, and three dimensional photo-panoramas for advanced analysis. A key feature of the method is the use of electronic field data collection to enhance data delivery into a publicly-accessible database.Our method is pragmatic, whilst still providing consistent data, information and samples on key vegetation and soil attributes. The method is operational and has been applied at more than 704 field locations across the Australian rangelands as part of the Ecosystem Surveillance program of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN). The methodology enables continental analyses, and has been tested in communities broadly representative of rangelands globally, with components being applicable to other biomes. Here we also recommend the consultative process and guiding principles that drove the development of this method as an approach for development of the method into other biomes. The consistent, standardised and objective method enables continental, and potentially global analyses than were not previously possible with disparate programs and datasets.

Supplementary and Associated Material

http://www.ausplots.org.au: Website for method
http://www.tern.org.au: Website of Program

Subject Areas

ecological monitoring methods; vegetation composition; vegetation cover; vegetation structure; soil sampling methods; sample management; electronic data collection

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