Rangeland Glossary Preface

August 16, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Society for Range Management. 1998. Glossary of terms used in range management, fourth edition. A definition of terms commonly used in Range Management.

Edited by the Glossary Update Task Group, Society for Range Management, Thomas E. Bedell, Chairman
1st Ed. 1964, Donald L. Huss, Chairman
2nd Ed. 1974, M.M. Kothmann, Chairman
3rd Ed. 1989, Peter W. Jacoby, Chairman
4th Ed. 1998, Thomas E. Bedell, Chairman

Permission to reproduce this copyrighted material was obtained from Kenneth Johnson, Executive Vice President, Society for Range Management. Further reproduction or translation of any part of this work beyond that required for review or brief citation without the permission of the copyright owner is unlawful. Requests for permission or further information should be addressed to the Society for Range Management, 10030 West 27th Ave., Wheat Ridge, CO 80215, Ph.: 303-986-3309, email: | info@rangelands.org.



This glossary is the latest effort by the Society for Range Management to develop meanings for the terminology we use in our profession consistent with the state of knowledge and, as near as possible, with terminology used in related professions. The current effort builds upon previous versions of the glossary, and this revision was prompted, in part, by terminology recommended by the Task Group on Unity in Concepts and Terminology in 1991.

Writing or revising a glossary is a tedious and frustrating business. Having served on both the Unity Task Group and the Range Inventory Standardization Committee, I can speak from first hand experience. What seems to be a relatively simple task of defining technical terms quickly becomes a much more profound and controversial problem. Definitions are the expression of the conceptual basis of a profession, and therefore arriving at a definition, which the profession will support, depends on common interpretation of basic concepts. It is often only when one tries to reach agreement on terminology that differences in conceptual viewpoints arise. So, glossaries are only approximations and must be periodically revised as our concepts evolve. No sooner are they published, than some will take issue with the definitions as written, or point out the omissions, or say that these definitions do not agree with some other group's definition of the same term.

Is all the work of producing or revising a glossary worth the effort? It certainly is! Clear and consistent definitions of technical terms are the basis for effective communication within the profession. The terminology is also used in legislation, legal documents, and by other professional groups or government agencies. If SRM has a published glossary, these other groups will likely use it; if not, they will define the terms as they wish. Therefore, it behooves us to exert our professional leadership to see that terminology is defined to reflect our scientific knowledge and practical experience.

We owe a great debt to the Glossary of Terms Task Group, under the leadership of Dr. Tom Bedell, who agreed to take on the task of revising our SRM glossary once again. This was a difficult job, but lest it be considered a thankless one, I say, thank you all!

E. Lamar Smith
President, SRM


Range Management - a Profession, a Science

Rangelands comprise approximately 45% of the earth's land surface. All rangelands are watersheds: thus, their proper management directly impacts the amount and quality of water upon which mankind depends. Rangelands occur in all countries of the world. Rangelands are a kind of land with the vegetation occurring on them the important designator. Vegetation varies from wet meadow-like to desert-like across the moisture spectrum. Many forested areas are managed effectively under a range management philosophy.

Rangelands have many uses and the uses vary in importance, often depending upon that nation's wealth. In many countries, grazing by domestic livestock is by far the primaty use because the people are so dependent upon animals for food and economic survival. In other countries, although livestock grazing is an important use, the overall stocking rates may be below the livestock carrying capacity. This occurs on many of the private and public lands in the United States and Canada where many, and varied, species of wildlife abound coexisting with liNestoCk. As a nation's wealth improves, the people's recreational time increases, Thus, more people are finding rangelands and their open space a desirable playground.

The unique profession of range management was developed to meet the challenges of the several uses of this kind of land. A student of rangeland management must know a great deal about plants, soils, hydrology, domestic livestock, wild animals, economics and finance, agronomy, grazing behavior and management, range analysis, etc. Knowledge about such subjects and their interrelationships forms the distinct discipline of range science. Several schools of higher education offer degrees through the Ph.D. in this discipline.

Range management is a scientific, as well as a practical, field based profession. Wherever rangelands exist, people responsible for their management need to possess technical information or to have direct access to such information. Graziers throughout the world require up-to-date knowledge and management skills in order to improve the condition of the lands under their jurisdiction. Regardless of one's job as a rancher, technician, manager, advisor, educator, observer, or student, range management understanding forms the foundation of success and achievements.

The Society for Range Management is the professional society for those who are interested in rangeland resources. International in scope, it was formed in 1947 with the following six objectives:

  • to properly take care of the basic rangeland resources of soil, plants, and water;
  • to develop an understanding of range ecosystems and of the principles applicable to the management of range resources;
  • to assist all who work with range resources to keep abreast of new findings and techniques in the science and art of range management;
  • to improve the effectiveness of range management to obtain from range resources the products and values necessary for man's welfare;
  • to create a public appreciation of the economic and social benefits to be obtained from the rangeenvironment;
  • to promote professional development of its members.

Our mission is to:

  • promote recognition and understanding of range environments throughout the world;
  • foster public understanding and appreciation of the economic and social benefits derived from proper use and management of the range resources;
  • provide for service and activities that will enhance knowledge and expertise of range managers.

Membership in the Society for Range Management is open to anyone engaged in or interested in any aspect of the study, management, or use of rangelands. A wide variety of interests are evident in the Society. They include people whose primary jobs are researchers, educators, technicians, land administrators, ranchers, lenders, advisors, and students. The Society's membership is worldwide, although the vast majority live in North America.

The Society for Range Management publishes two major magazines-the Journal of Range Management and Rangelands, in alternate months. The Journal of Range Management (JRM) is the professional journal containing research article on all aspects of range science and management. Rangelands contains articles of more general interest and not generally of a research nature. A wide spectrum of practical subjects attracts members and other readers to laud this periodical. Both magazines are available to members. In addition to these periodicals, The Society for Range Management publishes other technical books, symposium proceedings, handbooks, and manuals. The Society for Range Management takes pride in making this glossaty of terms available and trusts that it leads to more clear and effective communication.

(Note: Journal of Range Management has been renamed Rangeland Ecology and Management.)



The first edition of this glossary was published in 1964, 17 years after the founding of the Society for Range Management. The purpose of the initial glossary was to improve and clarify communications within the newly formed Society and among the various disciplines, organizations and individuals involved in Range Management. Because the field of Range Management arose from a multitude of scientific disciplines, the terms used were taken from many pure sciences, but in many cases implied special or restricted uses when applied to rangeland resource management. Additionally, many terms were specific to grazing practices and particular regions.

The Glossary was revised in 1974 and expanded considerably to reflect the growth and maturity of the Society for Range Management in the science and management of the world's rangelands. New terms were introduced which reflected the input of research into many new aspects of study on rangeland. Improved communication was the central theme which guided the revision.

This third edition (1989) also was guided by the continuing need to communicate effectively and accurately both within and outside the Society. New terminology reflected the continuing expansion of the science of Range Management and the recognition of the Society as a source of expertise on the many issues affecting current and future uses of rangeland resources. As in past editions, that revision modified or added over 200 terms in an effort to incorporate new areas of interest and to assist all persons to communicate accurately and effectively on rangeland issues. Special emphasis was given to defining certain terms for students, both foreign and domestic to the United States, owing to the increasing trend for youth raised in urban and nonranching environments to seek careers in Range Management. Several of the older terms were left in that edition but termed "archaic." That was done purposely to aid readers of historic, old literature.

In 1989, the Society formed the Unity in Concepts and Terms Task Group. At that time there also was formed an inter-Society Committee on grazing terminology. The inter-Society Committee's effort resulted in the publication of 'Terminology for Grazing Lands and Grazing Animals" in 1991. The SRM Unity in Concepts and Terms Task Group published their results and recommendations in the Journal of Range Management May 1995 Vol. 48, p. 271-282. In 1996, an ad hoc Task Group was constituted to update the 1989 edition of the Glossary. This fourth edition is the result of that effort. The Update Task Group incorporated the Unity Task Group's recommendation and as many of the inter-Society Forage and Grazing Terminology Committee's definitions as could be agreed upon. For grazing terms which might not appear in this Glossary, the Task Group recommends the reader utilize 'Terminology for Grazing Lands and Grazing Animals".

Because the purpose of the Glossary is for education, and improvement of communications and development of concepts is dynamic, the Glossary Update Task Group recognizes that these terms and definitions will not serve all users' needs completely. Nevertheless, we hope you find this edition useful and encourage you to work with your future revision committees to improve overall objectives.

Thomas E. Bedell, Task Group Chairman

The Task Group wishes to express sincere appreciation to the members who contributed to this revision.



Booysen, P.de V. 1967. Grazing and Grazing Management Terminology in South Africa. Proc. Grassld. Soc. So. Afr. 2:45-57

Dictionary of Geological Terms. Amer. Geological Inst., Dolphin Books, Doubleday & Co., Inc., Garden City, NY 1962.

Hanson, Herbert C. 1962. Dictionary of Ecology. Philosophical Library, New York, NY.

Lincoln, R.J., G.A. Boxshall, and P.F. Clark. 1982. A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. Cambridge Univ. Press. Cambridge, Great Britain. 298 p.

New Concepts for Assessment of Rangeland Condition, 1995. Report of Task Group on Unity in Concepts and Terminology. Society for Range Management. J. Range Manage. 48: 271-282.

Resource Conservation Glossary. 1982. Soil Conservation Society of America. Ankeny, Iowa. 193 p.

Guidelines and Terminology for Range Inventories and Monitoring. Report of Range Inventories and Monitoring. Report of Range Inventory Standardization Committee. Society for Range Management, 1983. 13 p.

Terminology for Grazinglands and Grazing Animals. 1991. The Forage and Grazing Terminology Committee. Pocahontas Press, Inc. Blacksburg, VA.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.