Ecosystem Function Analysis of Rangeland Monitoring Data
David Tongway and Norman Hindley
Rangeland monitoring must address the needs of a broad client base, not just the current user. The types of monitoring data collected by the States and the Northern Territory overall have a moderate to high potential to identify indices of change in landscape function at the site scale. The capacity varies from State to State and also within individual indicators.
Considerable thought and research has gone into the selection of data type and field protocols, but very little into using the data to derive critical threshold values. However, the capacity to identify and specify critical thresholds with the existing monitoring data set would appear to be possible by adopting an appropriate interpretational framework. Establishing the changes in landscape function in response to a change of stresses and disturbances, in the form of a landscape function curve, is of paramount importance, if the issue of critical thresholds is to be resolved. An example of such an exercise is described. We recommend that the use of sigmoidal curves should be investigated because their defining parameters intrinsically provide a number of values with high potential use for the purposes defined in the Audit objectives for this project, and have both intuitive and experimental attraction.
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