Development of a Data-Based Validation Network

Development of a Data-Based Validation Network for State-and-Transition Models


This project seeks to assess the construction rules and ecological validity of U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) approved state-and-transition models (STMs) by comparing them to empirical models that we will construct from long-term ecological data and related information for major ecological sites throughout the Great Plains and West.  This research approach will enable us to (1) explore new protocols to construct STMs that are based on empirical, long-term ecological data; (2) evaluate the ecological validity of existing qualitative STMs for representative ecological sites by comparing them to recently constructed data-based models; and (3) investigate the rules and assumptions associated with the construction of STMs to improve their consistency and ecological validity. 



Great Basin shrub steppe ecosystems are one target ecosystem for this project.  We will use the LTV monitoring data from the INL Site to evaluate STMs constructed for this ecosystem.  We will characterize Ecological Sites at the LTV transects to facilitate this analysis.


Accomplishments through 2009

In September 2009 Jornada Experimental Range (JER) staff traveled to the INL Site in order to obtain archeological clearance for soil sampling at LTV plots.  The soil sampling will be used to assign LTV plots to Ecological Sites used to specify variations in STMs based on ecological potential.  JER staff and INL Archaeologist Brenda Pace visited 68 LTV plots during a four-day period (10/21-10/24).  Suitable soil sampling locations were identified and marked with small wire flags at each plot.  The archaeologist examined the area surrounding each flag and either cleared the site for excavation or indicated that an alternative site should be selected.  Only one soil pit was excavated during this visit.  GPS coordinates were also collected at each site in order to assist relocation of soil sampling points. 


Plans for Continuation

Our intention is to revisit the monitoring sites in summer 2010 and characterize soil profiles at all or a subset of the marked locations.