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The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Journal of the Australian Rangeland Society

Rangeland Dynamics and State and Transition Models: an Enduring Conceptual and Practical Framework

The year 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the publication of the seminal paper by Mark Westoby, Brian Walker and (the late) Imanuel Noy-Meir that introduced the state and transition concept to rangeland management. The Westoby et al. paper provided a new approach to describing vegetation dynamics in rangelands. In particular, the paper eloquently provided an alternative to existing paradigms of linear vegetation change that were unable to account for field observations of irreversible vegetation change.

Importantly, the language used to describe state and transition models was aimed at management rather than ecological theory. The concepts were rapidly adopted by rangeland scientists and managers across the world and have led to hundreds of subsequent papers applying state and transition models. They have also been implemented by agencies (e.g. USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service) in the day to day management of rangelands.

To mark the anniversary of the Westoby et al. paper, this virtual issue has been compiled from papers published in The Rangeland Journal which have drawn on their concepts. Brian Walker and Mark Westoby have generously provided an editorial article that reflects on their early thinking behind state and transition models and commentary on its evolution over the past 30 years.

Andrew Ash and Ron Hacker