The interaction of rangeland management and environmental conditions in regulating forage quality - quantity and other ecosystem services

Final Report for SW12-110

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2012: $265,414.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Expand All

Project Information


 California’s range managers have repeatedly identified two key research priorities: (1) management for multiple goals, and (2) site-specific recommendations.

Our most effective approach to address these priorities is to learn from hundreds of on-the-ground management trials underway in rangelands across California’s diverse climate, soil, and topographical conditions. Bringing together results from rancher trials allows us to pull apart how yearly weather and site-specific conditions impact forage production and the delivery of ecosystem services (noxious weed control, diversity, erosion control, water quality, carbon sequestration). This, in turn, will help us to:

     – develop site-specific recommendations based on management goals

     – plan for droughts, high rainfall years, and future climate change.

Our project is addressing these challenges by:

  1. Developing a web database of management practices and their impacts on ecosystem services. Data is entered by researchers and managers and is linked to a GIS model containing maps of soils, terrain, climate, and vegetation. This data is searchable through a web-based platform based on key words (e.g. management practices, goals) and map locations.
  1. Collecting data on the effects of management on multiple ecosystem services. Few projects document the impacts on multiple management goals. We have measured how sites differ in their provision of multiple ecosystem services (e.g. forage production, forage quality, erosion control, water infiltration and storage, carbon storage, fertility, weed control), and how management practices alter these services. Because the timing of this project coincided with a significant drought in California, all of the new field data collections focused on effective management during drought. Archived data compiled from other past projects provide information during non-drought conditions.
  1. Synthesizing. The database is being used to compile existing data sets, and to point out the types of practices, types of goals, and locations that are in need of more data. Regular meta-analysis of this database will synthesize;

– how management practices influence multiple services

– how the impacts of management practices vary by site and annual weather

– the locations that provide high amounts of different ecosystem services (with or without management for them) and that provide low amounts of a given service, even with management.

This project was jointly funded through Western SARE and UC ANR, and the UC ANR funding will provide the funding over the next year to release the key products.

The database, along with associated tools (e.g. the monitoring handbook) are anticipated to go live by the end of 2016. The key strength of the database approach is that it will continue long after the funding period. The searchable database will enable managers to improve the effectiveness of their practices, based on results from others who have had similar goals in similar environmental conditions. As these improved practices are entered into the database, they will further improve the site-specific recommendations and maps. 

Project Objectives:

Our overall goal is to enhance our ability to predict and manage the provisioning of multiple ecosystem services across a broad spectrum of environmental conditions in California’s rangelands.

Objective 1. Assess how local to regional differences in environmental conditions determine:

  1. Site-specific potential to provide multiple ecosystem services.
  2. The impacts of range management practices on suites of ecosystem services, and which practices are most effective for a given service at a given site.
  3. How site conditions and management approaches determine the extent to which ecosystem services change in response to drought, and how they recover from drought. (This was added during the project and wasn’t part of the original proposal).

Objective 2. Improve the effectiveness of range management by enhancing the availability of information for developing management plans.

Performance targets for objectives 1 & 2:

  1. A web-based database has been developed. University of California Agriculture Natural Resources’ Communication Services and Information Technology (UC ANR CSIT) and Informatics and GIS Program (IGIS) were contracted to develop the database, since it could link with existing UC ANR tools (e.g., and hosting on the UC ANR platform can ensure long-term availability of the database. There were substantial delays with the development of the database, due to its unexpected complexity (needing to encompass many different management approaches, as well as multiple measurement approaches even for the same ecosystem service), and limited time availability of CSIT personnel who had the skills to undertake this type of project. The database and map interface have been built and are in the process of being integrated, with projected timelines of:
    1. September 2016- Database is available for entering our existing data.
    2. November 2016- Database webpage will be ready for public display, including case study entry, and database search capabilities.
  2. Data has been collected from 1,786 sites over the past four years, with 638 plots measured for more than one year, and 744 plots measured at least two times per year to get at seasonal changes. This has resulted in measuring more than 7,700 plots over the last four years (some for a single ecosystem service, such as production, but many for multiple ecosystem services). Collectively, this data provides information on multiple ecosystem services at a variety of management types and environmental conditions (see results/discussion section). These will be entered into the database once it is fully functional in September and October 2016, allowing for public release of the data in November 2016.
  3. Long-term records have been compiled from UC Research Stations, Professors, Cooperative Extension Specialists and Farm Advisors. These will be entered into the database during fall 2016. In addition, more data sets will be compiled and entered throughout 2017, including with collaborating groups such as: California Native Grasslands Association, East Bay Parks, Sacramento County Parks.
  4. To increase comparability of past studies, we have compiled the most common approaches to measuring key services (e.g. forage production) and have performed them across a number of sites, allowing us to make “correction factors” to more directly compare studies using different approaches. Data is being summarized from the spring of 2016 (we were not able to do this earlier in the project, assuming that drought conditions were not suitable for doing this testing). We’ll do broader testing in the 2016-17 growing season, since many sites were still in drought or drought recovery in spring of 2016, so the data may not be representative of more typical conditions.
  5. To increase comparability of future studies, we have developed a “Measuring Ecosystem Services Handbook” (which will be available on the web in print-friendly form by late 2016, once we have finished the “correction factors” described in #4). This has gone through several iterations based on stakeholder input. The original handbook focused on quantitative set of measures, appropriate for research, official monitoring programs, and managers who are enthusiastic to monitor the impacts of their practices. These include standardized, repeatable measures, similar to those originally proposed (e.g. infiltrometers to determine infiltration, cohesion testers to determine erosion potential, lab tests of soil to determine soil organic matter and water holding capacity, etc.). The second set of protocols is more informal, providing a quick, qualitative assessment by managers. For example, rather than official determination of invasive species cover, they would assess invasive cover by selecting the closest match in cover from 5-8 photos depicting different levels of invasion (this would calibrate across individual assessors). The same type of approach will occur for production, visible erosion events, and visible runoff (lack of water infiltration).
  6. Synthesize data. See results/discussion for topic-specific syntheses from field data that has been collected through this project. These syntheses will be updated and published (both in professional journals, as well as in “fact sheets” for managers), once all lab analyses of samples have been completed (spring 2017). In addition, broader syntheses, will occur once the data is fully inputted in to the database. These analyses will allow us to determine:
    1. Maps detailing the magnitude of ecosystem service provision at different sites, for multiple ecosystem services.
    2. Summaries of best management practices for different ecosystem services, and how those vary by site and year (weather conditions of that specific year).
    3. Summaries of best management practices for addressing multiple goals or to avoid key tradeoffs across goals.
    4. The first cut of these analyses will occur in Summer of 2017. Follow-up analyses will occur in subsequent years as more data is included in the database.
  7.  Outreach events to train managers on use of the database and monitoring approaches. The structure of the database was determined through extensive input from a wide variety of stakeholders, as well as by using a large number of data sets and case studies, to be sure the database can accommodate many different types of data and observations. From summer 2017 and beyond, we’ll be hosting field days and workshops through various UCCE locations and Resource Conservation Districts, and through our stakeholders’ workshops and annual meetings (e.g. California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, California Native Grasslands Association, California Invasive Plant Council).

Range managers face increasing pressure to develop management practices that maximize forage quantity and quality while conserving native species, enhancing water quality, storing soil carbon, and minimizing weeds and erosion. A balance of these multiple services can enhance sustainable livestock production on an individual ranch and also provides benefits to the surrounding community. Depending on environmental conditions and management practices, range management can enhance or degrade some of the services upon which society relies (MEA 2005). These “off ranch” effects have led to increasing interest in incentive and regulatory programs, such as Payment for Ecosystem Services, where ranchers are subsidized for the benefits they provide (Goldstein et al. 2011). While managing for multiple services is of great interest, there are still significant challenges that limit our ability to manage a site to reliably provide suites of services:

  1. Our inability to predict site-specific patterns and controls (Wassenaar et al. 2007).

–         Within a ranch, and across the California landscape, which areas have the highest (or lowest) inherent ability to provide a given ecosystem service?

–         Can management effectively enhance ecosystem services even in areas not mapped as potential “hotspots” for service delivery? In areas that provide high levels of services, can management practices degrade or further enhance service delivery?

–         At sites with different environmental conditions, are different management practices required to enhance a given service?

–         Within a site, how does year-to-year variation in weather patterns (particularly rainfall) influence effective management for ecosystem services?

Ecosystem services are influenced by a complex interaction of multiple environmental factors (e.g. soils, climate, and topography) and management. The relative importance of these controlling factors may vary as environmental conditions shift over space and time (Eviner & Hawkes 2008). The importance of these complex interactions accounts for the fact that despite decades of research on California’s rangelands, we still have limited ability to predict variability of forage production (George et al. 2001, Bartolome et al. 2007). Similarly, we have difficulty understanding why a given management practice is successful at one site but not another.

Our project will compare on-the-ground measures over hundreds (and eventually thousands) of sites that vary in multiple environmental conditions and management practices. This will provide us with a powerful platform to determine the extent to which broad environmental controls versus local-scale management impact the provisioning of multiple services. We will focus on both “provisioning services” (e.g. productivity of livestock and forage, water supply), as well as the “supporting services” that sustain provisioning services (e.g. forage quality, control of noxious weeds, soil water infiltration and storage, soil nutrient availability and retention, erosion control). Our project data will be linked to digital datasets such as soil survey, geology, and land cover, resulting in a decision support tool which creates predictive maps of multiple services and their response to management across the landscape (Beaudette and O’Geen, 2009, 2010). This approach will allow us to assess the interactive effects of environment and management, providing site-specific recommendations in our decision support tool, rather than a “one size fits all” prescription for managers.

  1. Our ability to manage multiple services requires a better understanding of the controls over each service and how multiple services interact.

We have relatively little information on the tradeoffs and synergies among multiple ecosystem services. Both scientists and managers have tended to focus on a key service, but focus on one service often unintentionally compromises the provisioning of other ecosystem services (MEA 2005).

Our team actively collaborates with diverse groups of rangeland managers, including private ranchers and range managers of water districts and parks. The focal goals of these range managers differ (e.g. livestock production, water quality, wildlife habitat, noxious weed control). Our project will sample across these sites with different goals to develop: (1) a strong background on how each of these stakeholder groups has successfully managed its focal ecosystem service, and (2) opportunities to compare sites managed for different goals to assess how management for any one service impacts a broad suite of ecosystem services.

Relevance of California’s rangelands as a focal system

Our work will focus on range management in California’s grasslands and oak woodlands. This is a powerful model system for our questions, given its high variability in multiple environmental conditions. Precipitation gradients extend from less than 18cm/year to greater than 102 cm/year (Bartolome et al. 2006). Even across short distances, soils can vary greatly in soil organic matter content, drainage, and depth (Jackson et al. 2007), and local topographic differences can have strong impacts on plant communities and ecosystem processes (Baxter and Parker 1999). Oak woodlands and annual grassland are of tremendous ecological, social, and economic importance to the State of California. This system covers approximately 6.4 million hectares, produces 70% of the state’s forage base (Huntsinger et al. 2007), and is the most species-rich system in California (Allen-Diaz et al. 2007). Additionally, over 85% of California’s drinking water supply is generated and stored annually within rangeland watersheds (Havstad et al. 2007).


Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Pelayo Alvarez
  • Sheila Barry
  • Theresa Becchetti
  • Josh Davy
  • Carol Dobbas
  • Morgan Doran
  • John Harper
  • Jeff Hunewill
  • Roger Ingram
  • Kevin Kester
  • Royce Larsen
  • Andrew Latimer
  • David Lewis
  • Glenn Nader
  • Elisa Noble
  • Toby O'Geen
  • Kevin Rice
  • Chris Rose
  • Tracy Schohr
  • Kenneth Tate
  • Truman Young


Materials and methods:

Development of a web-based database of management projects and their impacts on ecosystem services. Learning from hundreds of past and on-going management efforts is the most effective way to determine site-specific management for multiple ecosystem services. Database design was determined by the following:

  • Collection of representative datasets and case studies to determine the diversity of structures and variables needed
  • Input from multiple stakeholder groups on specific needs:
    • Search functions by location/environmental conditions, practices, and goals
    • Options of having location public or private (grouped by county, rather than GPS coordinate)
    • Each user can have their own “portal”, allowing them to privately access all of their past entries, resulting in their own personal database of management trials

Dataset collection

Long-term records have been compiled from UC Research Stations, Professors, Cooperative Extension Specialists and Farm Advisors. In addition, more data sets will be compiled and entered throughout 2017, including with collaborating groups such as: California Native Grasslands Association, East Bay Parks, Sacramento County Parks.

Additional datasets will be collected through our network of existing partnerships across stakeholder groups, and by hosting a series of training events to encourage managers to input their individual experiences.

Datasets will also be mined from both grey literature and academic literature.

In order to enhance comparison across different data sets, which have used different methods of measurements, we are doing field trials to calibrate across multiple measures for each ecosystem service. The measures in bold italics are those that are standard measures for all of the field plots measured during the duration of this project.

Ecosystem Service

Quantitative measures

Qualitative measures

Forage production

Clipping from a caged area

– Clipping from an unfenced area

– Robel pole

– Canopy height

– Rising plate meter

-Timing of collection (peak season vs. end of season vs. early fall RDM)

-Visual ranking or photo ranking

Forage quality

Tissue %N

-ADF (acid detergent fiber)

-crude protein

-NDF (neutral detergent fiber)

-% cover of palatable species using key indicator species (e.g. filaree)

-% cover of unpalatable species using forage traits (e.g. spines, toxins)

-length of green season

Weed control

-Size of weed patch

% cover of weeds

-biomass of weeds

-Scoring photographs

-Qualitative assessment (e.g. infested, rare)

Vegetation composition

Quadrat Daubenmire

-Point intercept transect

-Biomass sorting

-Dry rank

– Species list and ranking from walk-through

Soil water retention and availability

-Gravimetric measure

-TDR/ probe methods


-Water holding capacity

-Assessment of soil being dry vs. moist vs. wet

-Estimation based on plant greenness

Watershed water quantity

-Stream flow

-Stream velocity


-Duration of stream flow into the dry season

-Ranking of stream flow

Water quality

-Secchi disk

-N and P concentrations

-Visual assessment of clarity (sediments)

-Visual assessment of clarity (algae)

Soil fertility

-Total soil nutrients

-Extractable soil nutrients

-Resin availability

-Rates of cycling (e.g. net N mineralization, enzymatic activity)

-Visual assessment based on plant health, color

-NPK Test kit


Erosion control

Soil cohesion

-Sediment loss

-Mapping erosion events

-Visual estimation of presence of:




Surface erosion

Soil compaction

Penetrometer- depth profiles, maximum depth

– Bulk density

-Presence of ponding water

-Depth of compaction layer

Carbon sequestration

Soil % C, coupled with bulk density

-Soil organic matter (loss on ignition)

-Visual estimation of depth of soil organic layer

Fire control

Fuel load (biomass, moisture)

-Fuel load (height, cover, presence of ladder fuels)

– Frequency, size, intensity of fires

-Location and timing of fire

-Visual estimate of fire intensity (e.g. % biomass removed)

Wildlife species list

-Number of observations over specific times

-Traps (baited or not)

-Motion-sensing cameras

-Species list with ranking (rare, common, abundant)

Wildlife habitat features

-Extent/location of vegetation types

-Feeding habitat needed

-Breeding habitat needed

-Predator protection needed

-Extent and location of water resources

-Presence and location of key features: water sources, woody vegetation (cover and height), grassland height and size

Management cost

-Total cost of project

-Total labor hours

-Calculated cost/benefit ($)


-Assessment of intensity of effort

-Assessment of cost/benefit


 New data collection

Bolded and italicized measures in the table above indicate measures taken on plots sampled during this project. The original plan was to compile datasets into the database, perform a meta-analysis, and then determine what types of management practices and locations would be prioritized. Because of the long-delay in the building of the database, we were not able to wait for the compilation of all of the data before sampling began. In addition, every year of the project, with the exception of the 2015-16 growing season was a drought in California, highlighting the lack of information available about promising range management practices to minimize the effects of drought and to enhance recovery from drought. Thus, much of the sampling was focused on management and site impacts of drought and the related increase in grassland fires.

Over the four years of this project, 1,786 plots were sampled, 638 of those were sampled over multiple years. 744 of the plots were sampled at least two times (ranging from 2-5 times) during the growing season to better understand seasonal dynamics. This totaled 7,706 plot samplings (with different plots being measured for different suites of ecosystem services).

A summary of the types of management practices and environmental conditions assessed are in the table below. Note that some plots are part of multiple comparisons (e.g. comparing grazing practices, invasive plant management approaches, etc.), so the cumulative number of plots described in this table will be greater than the 1,786 sampled). All of these encompass effects of drought, and the repeated samplings across years include drought recovery conditions.


Management practice tested

Geographical distribution (Counties are proxy for environmental diversity)

Duration of sampling (in years)

Number of plots

Grazing practices (variations in seasonality, intensity, duration, type of livestock)

Spanning south to north (San Luis Obispo to Shasta County), from coastal/bay (Sonoma, Mendocino, Alameda, Contra Costa) to inland (Yolo, Solano, Sacramento) to foothills (Yuba, Nevada, Butte, Placer, El Dorado)

Single sampling to 5 years


Mowing/clipping (variations in timing of clipping, RDM levels)

Coastal/bay (e.g. Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Alameda, Contra Costa) to inland (e.g. Yolo, Solano) to foothills (Yuba, Nevada, Butte)

Single sampling to 4 years


Fire impacts

Alameda, Sacramento, Lake

Single years


Invasive species control

Coastal (Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Alameda, Contra Costa) to inland (Sacramento, Yolo, Solano) to foothills (Yuba, Nevada, Butte)

Single sampling to 4 years


Fertilization, compost, ash additions

Coastal (Marin) to inland (Yolo) to foothills (Yuba)

Single sampling to 4 years


Irrigation/ precipitation manipulations

Coastal (Mendocino) to inland (Yolo) to foothills (Yuba)

Single sampling to 4 years


Planting practices (rangeland seeding, restoration seeding)

Coastal (Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Alameda, Contra Costa) to inland (Sacramento, Yolo, Solano) to foothills (Yuba, Nevada, Butte Counties)



Comparison of forage vs. noxious weeds (e.g. yellow starthistle, goatgrass, medusahead)

Coastal (Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Alameda) to inland (Sacramento, Yolo, Solano) to foothills (Yuba, Nevada, Butte)



Comparison of exotic forage grasses vs. native grasses, woody species

Coastal (Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino) to inland (Sacramento. Yolo, Solano) to foothills (Yuba, Nevada, Butte)



Research results and discussion:
Research conclusions:

This project will improve our site-specific management for multiple ecosystem services by compiling thousands of management trials and research studies, resulting in: (1) Improved tools for science-based decision making and (2) Improve science-based regulatory and incentive programs.

The current results already lead to specific promising management options, including:

Approaches to increase drought resilience:

-The importance of RDM (the litter layer) to maintaining enhanced productivity.

– Even relatively low cover of native perennial grasses (15-20% cover) can increase deep soil carbon and water holding capacity. While this only has subtle effects on aboveground growth, it increases deep rooting of forage species and leads to a four-fold increase in seed production (which has a strong impact on drought recovery, even if it doesn’t impact forage production during a drought year).

Approaches to controlling noxious weeds:

  • Peak spring grazing or mowing (March-April) can greatly enhance noxious weed prevalence because removal of forage biomass increases available soil moisture for the weeds.
  • Grazing or mowing when soil moisture reserves are low can eliminate noxious weed seed production, since they cannot recovery post-removal.
  • Infestations of yellow starthistle do not respond to grazing or mowing but respond strongly to herbicide early in the season.

Approaches to improve native plant restoration:

  • Native plants alter the soil microbial community in ways that inhibit native plant growth.
  • Exotic plants increase nitrification rates. Addition of a nitrification inhibitor substantially increases native plant growth, while decreasing exotic plant growth.

Balancing multiple ecosystem services:

  • Exotic plants provide better erosion control and better alleviation of soil compaction. Native plants provide better noxious weed suppression. Natives vary in their effects on potential nitrogen leaching depending on the specific site. This can help guide prioritizing areas for restoration, depending on site challenges.
Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Completed publications:

Eviner, VT. 2014. Effects of weather variations on species composition and production in California’s grasslands. Grasslands 24:2-7.

Eviner, VT. 2014. Database of management trials to provide site-specific tools for more effective management. California Invasive Plant Council News 22: 10-14.

Eviner, VT. 2013. Database of management trials to provide site-specific tools for more effective restoration. Grasslands Winter 2013.

Eviner, VT, J Heraty, J Baty, C Malmstrom and K Rice. 2013. Impacts of native vs. exotic grassland vegetation. California Invasive Plant Council News 21: 13-14.


Completed and scheduled outreach events:

  1. Plenary panelist: Ecological restoration and environmental change. Natural Areas Conference. October, 2016, Davis, CA.
  2. Invited speaker- California Native Grassland Association special session. Natural Areas Conference. October, 2016, Davis, CA.
  3. Eviner, VT, CV Hawkes, and SA Hoskinson. New mechanisms governing plant-soil feedbacks of native vs. exotic grassland species: Soil carbon depth distribution alters rooting distribution and seed production in a moisture-limited grassland. Ecological Society of American Annual Meeting; Fort Lauderdale, FL. August 2016.

  4. Post-drought recovery of California grasslands. California Native Grassland Association, Hedgerow Farms Field Day. April 2016
  5. Ecology and conservation of California’s grasslands. California Academy of Sciences. February 18, 2016.
  6. Eviner, VT, K Garbach, E Bennett, D Scholes, L Gerber. Opportunities and challenges in linking ecological science, policy and management to address current and future environmental issues. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. Baltimore, MD. August 2015.
  7. Ecological toolbox for invasive weed management. Utility Arborist Association- Western Chapter meeting and field tour. American River Parkway, Sacramento. June 2015.
  8. Effects of continued drought on grassland vegetation dynamics. California Native Grassland Association, Hedgerow Farms Field Day. April 2015.
  9. Eviner, VT, KJ Rice, C Malmstrom, J Heraty. Competitive interactions between native and invasive grassland plants are mediated by precipitation, nitrogen deposition, clipping, and the identity of plant competitors. California Native Plant Society Annual Meeting. San Jose, CA. January 2015.
  10. Carey, C, M Beman, VT Eviner, S Glassman, SC Hart. Soil microbial community composition and diversity are insensitive to multiple global change drivers. International Society of Microbial Ecology, Seoul, South Korea. August 2014.
  11. Brillinger, R, VT Eviner, T Houston. Linking Science and Public Policy: Strategies to Engage in Policy Change and Communicate with Policy Makers. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Sacramento, August 2014.
  12. Heraty, JM, VT Eviner, KW Tate, LM Roche. Effect of grazing on seasonal patterns of plant biomass, plant nitrogen, and soil nutrients in California’s annual grasslands. Ecological Society of America, Sacramento, CA. August 2014.
  13. Rice, KJ, CM Malmstrom, VT Eviner. Living on “leftovers”: Effects of simulated grazing on the soil moisture niche of two late season grassland weeds. Ecological Society of America, Sacramento, CA. August 2014.
  14. Eviner, VT, KJ Rice, CM Malmstrom. Species composition in California’s grasslands varies with the interactions between precipitation, nitrogen deposition, clipping and the identity of plant competitors. Ecological Society of America, Sacramento, CA. August 2014.
  15. Effects of precipitation, clipping, and fertilization on the interactions among native, invasive, and naturalized grassland species. UCCE Weed Day, UC Davis. July 2014.
  16. Eviner, VT, JM Heraty, J Baty, C Malmstrom, K Rice. Impacts of native vs. exotic grasslands on multiple ecosystem services. California Society of Ecological Restoration. Santa Rosa, CA. May 2014.
  17. Impacts of native vs. exotic grasslands on multiple ecosystem services. California Society of Ecological Restoration. Santa Rosa, CA. May 2014.
  18. Effects of weather variation on species composition and production in California’s grasslands. California Native Grassland Association, Hedgerow Farms Field Day. April 2014.
  19. Importance of farmland preservation and management for carbon sequestration. CA Secretary of External Affairs, Deputy for Climate Change and Energy. April 2014.
  20. Predicting site-specific effects of management through collaborations between scientists and land managers. California Native Grasslands Association Monitoring Workshop. March 2014.
  21. Eviner, VT, JM Heraty, J Baty, C Malmstrom, KJ Rice. Plant species impact the suite of ecosystem services provided seasonally in California’s grasslands. Soil Science Society of America: Soil’s Role in Restoring Ecosystem Services Conference. Sacramento, CA. March 2014.
  22. Potential for agricultural management to increase carbon sequestration. Department of Conservation, January 2014.
  23. Eviner, VT, M George, A Latimer, D Lewis, A O’Geen, K Rice, K Tate and T Young. Database of management trials to provide site-specific decision support tool for invasive species control. California Invasive Plant Council, Lake Arrowhead, CA. October 2013.
  24. Eviner, VT, J Heraty, J Baty, C Malmstrom, and K Rice. Impacts of native vs. exotic grassland vegetation on multiple ecosystem services. California Invasive Plant Council, Lake Arrowhead, CA. October 2013.
  25. Eviner, VT, JM Heraty, CM Malmstrom, KJ Rice. Species composition in California’s grasslands impacts the magnitude and timing of ecosystem services. Ecological Society of America, Minneapolis, MN. August 2013.
  26. Ryals, R, WL Silver, VT Eviner, C Stein. Are there tradeoffs in plant dynamics in grasslands managed for carbon sequestration? Ecological Society of America, Minneapolis, MN. August 2013.
  27. Lewis, DJ, M Lennox, A O’Geen, V Eviner, S Larson, J Harper, M Doran, K Tate. Carbon sequestration trajectory: soil pools following stream restoration. ANR Statewide Conference. April 2013.
  28. The role of California’s rangelands in climate protection: possibilities, challenges and other considerations. CalCAN Summit. Davis, CA. February 2013.
  29. Larson, S, S Barry, T Becchetti, M Doran, K Giovannini, L Forero, H George, M George, V Eviner. Develop and document opportunities for ecosystem services on rangelands. ACES (A community on Ecosystem Services and Ecosystem Markets). Ft Lauderdale, FL. December 2012.
  30. Managing California rangelands for resilience of multiple services in a variable and changing climate. CalCAN field day at Paicines Ranch. October 2012.
  31. Addressing challenges in managing for multiple ecosystem services: approaches for bridging scientific knowledge gaps by learning from managers. ANR Rangeland & Forestry Program Team Meeting, Berkeley. October 2012.
  32. Developing a database and decision support tool of restoration projects in California’s grasslands. CNGA Board Meeting. July 2012.
  33. Managing rangelands for greenhouse gas control. CalCAN field day- Sierra Farms. June 2012.
  34. Using plant-soil interactions to understand and manage communities and ecosystems. UC Davis. May 3, 2012.
  35. Managing rangelands for multiple ecosystem services. CalCAN- State Legislature Briefing Panel. April 2012.
  36. Compiling and analyzing management case studies. California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Annual Summit. UCCE Range Science Symposium. January 2012.

Anticipated peer-reviewed publications:

-Effects of grazing practices on multiple ecosystem services

-Effects of grazing practices on ecosystem response to, and recovery from drought

-Grassland and riparian restoration impacts on ecosystem services

-Grassland and riparian restoration impacts on ecosystem response to drought

-Site-specific best management practices for noxious invasive rangeland plants

-Site-specific best management practices for forage quantity and quality

-Yearly weather variation effects on California’s rangelands

Anticipated outreach publications/ products

-Ecosystem services monitoring handbook (available on website)

– Web: California ecosystem management database

– Maps of ecosystem services (available on website)

– Fact sheets:

          Managing for ecosystem services

          Monitoring ecosystem services

Anticipated outreach events

Field days for training in monitoring multiple rangeland ecosystem services;

-UC Hopland Research & Extension Center

-UC Sierra Foothills Research & Extension Center

-UC ANR annual conference

-California Rangeland Conservation Coalition annual meeting

-California Climate and Agriculture Network Central Coast field day

-California Invasive Plant Council annual meeting

-California Native Grasslands Association annual meeting

Trainings on use of database

-UC Hopland Research & Extension Center

-UC Sierra Foothills Research & Extension Center

-UC ANR annual conference

-California Rangeland Conservation Coalition annual meeting

-California Climate and Agriculture Network Central Coast field day

-California Invasive Plant Council annual meeting

-California Native Grasslands Association annual meeting

Outreach on results from database project

-UC Hopland Research & Extension Center

-UC Sierra Foothills Research & Extension Center

-UC ANR annual conference

-California Rangeland Conservation Coalition annual meeting

-California Climate and Agriculture Network Central Coast field day

-California Invasive Plant Council annual meeting

-California Native Grasslands Association annual meeting

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Where possible, we have included costs of management projects in our database compilation of management practices. However, the proposed work does not immediately lend itself to economic analysis. It should be emphasized that this project will result in stronger quantification and prediction of ecosystem service provision, which is critical for economic valuation of these services and development of programs that pay ranchers for the provision of these services (Kroeger et al. 2010). Our work builds the foundation for future research efforts, which will be able to combine traditional economic analyses (costs, returns, risks of a management practice) with ecosystem service valuation. For example, based on the work proposed here, we will seek funding for performing replicated on-ranch management trials, where we will test the recommendations of the decision support tool developed in this project. Economic analyses will be an important consideration at this stage of the research and will consider costs and both traditional ranch income, as well as potential for ecosystem service income.

Farmer Adoption

The database will be released this fall and will require a sign-in that indicates the type of user and the purpose of using the database. This will allow us to track the number of users and applications of the database and maps.


Areas needing additional study

With completion of the database and input of the datasets and case studies, the data will be compiled and linked to the GIS database to provide site-specific environmental conditions. This will enable meta-analyses that go beyond the results presented here (a compilation within or across sites) to provide site-specific and regional-specific results, maps, and decision support for best-management practices.

All of the new field data collected in this study occurred during drought conditions (with 2015-16 being a “recovery” year, but still abnormal). This will provides important insights into management x site effects on drought response and recovery, but more data will need to be collected in non-drought years to get a better assessment of management x site effects during normal and wetter years.

One of the main outputs of this meta-analysis will be pointing to practices that are promising for a wide range of ecosystem services. These will have to be verified with more on-ranch trials across California’s diverse rangelands.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.