The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

A quantitative state and transition model for the Mitchell grasslands of central western Queensland

D. G. Phelps and O. J. H. Bosch

The Rangeland Journal 24(2) 242 - 267
Published: 20 November 2002


Concerns of reduced productivity and land degradation in the Mitchell grasslands of central western Queensland were addressed through a range monitoring program to interpret condition and trend. Botanical and edaphic parameters were recorded along piosphere and grazing gradients, and across fenceline impact areas, to maximise changes resulting from grazing. The Degradation Gradient Method was used in conjunction with State and Transition Models to develop models of rangeland dynamics and condition. States were found to be ordered along a degradation gradient, indicator species developed according to rainfall trends and transitions determined from field data and available literature. Astrebla spp. abundance declined with declining range condition and increasing grazing pressure, while annual grasses and forbs increased in dominance under poor range condition. Soil erosion increased and litter decreased with decreasing range condition. An approach to quantitatively define states within a variable rainfall environment based upon a time-series ordination analysis is described.

The derived model could provide the interpretive framework necessary to integrate on-ground monitoring, remote sensing and geographic information systems to trace states and transitions at the paddock scale. However, further work is needed to determine the full catalogue of states and transitions and to refine the model for application at the paddock scale.

Keywords: Astrebla; State and Transition Models; Degradation Gradient Method; range condition; Mitchell grasslands; grazing impacts, central western Queensland

© ARS 2002

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