Written by Rachel Frost, Montana State University
There are no clear boundaries that define vegetation types across rangeland landscapes. However, grouping rangeland plant species into vegetation types provides a framework for managers to assess the ecological status and trend of plant communities.
Vegetation can be classified on a hierarchical scale, the broadest of which is based on climatic, physiographic, and edaphic factors across large geographical regions such as grasslands, deserts, and shrublands. Vegetation types can further be divided into groups based on major plant species. Examples include the sagebrush steppe, salt-desert shrub, juniper woodland, intermountain bunchgrass, shortgrass prairie, and tallgrass prairie plant associations.
Listed below are some types of land classification systems commonly used by managers to guide research and policies and as a tool for communication: