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A state and transition classification for mixed grass prairie habit types. (Symposium).

State and transition models have been discussed in the literature for several years. They have become an accepted means for communicating successional relationships with disturbance processes and ecological functions on rangelands. Identification, classification, and description of various vegetation states and pathways associated with ecological sites or habitat types are important for understanding rangeland capability differences. Most traditional habitat type and ecological site classifications have focused on historic climax plant community descriptions. Few published examples exist in which vegetation states associated with various disturbance processes have been catalogued for a single site. The purpose of this project was to identify and classify the successional vegetation states associated with habitat types of the mixed grass prairie of western North Dakota.

Existing plot data were used for the classification to take advantage of past sampling and avoid the high costs of acquiring new data. Over 4,000 plot records from various sampling efforts during the period 1987-1999 were screened for accuracy and completeness. Of these, 2,467 acceptable plot records were sorted by habitat type and grouped into dominance types based on dominant and co-dominant species. Dominance types were grouped based on plant functional characteristics (annual, perennial, biennial; warm season, cool season; short-, mid- , or tall-grass) of the dominant species. The classification resulted in 55 vegetation states for eight grassland habitat types and 52 vegetation states for 13 shrubland habitat types. The classification provides resource managers information about capability of habitat types to support different plant communities and to evaluate their influence on ecological functions.

Jeff DiBenedetto *, Linda Ann Spencer, and John R. Lane USDA Forest Service, Custer National Forest Supervisor's Office, Billings, Montana
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Author:DiBenedetto, Jeff; Spencer, Linda Ann; Lane, John R.
Publication:Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U4ND
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Words:271
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