Rangelands and How They Work

August 29, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Native rangeland in southeastern ID. Photo courtesy of Jen Peterson

Rangelands are dynamic ecosystems that  produce a wide variety of goods and services desired by society, including livestock forage, wildlife habitat, water, mineral resources, wood products, wildland recreation, open space and natural beauty. In order to continue to provide those goods and services, rangelands must function ecologically, in other words, they must be able to capture water and nutrients and convert them into plants.

Classification of Rangelands

Rangelands are frequently classified based on climate, soils, vegetation or a combination of these factors. Grouping rangelands in this manner enables land managers to develop understand how areas will respond to specific management strategies.  For more detailed information on the different ways that rangeland is classified see:  Classification of Rangeland Systems

Vegetation Types on Rangelands

The interaction of soil and climate determine what types of plant communities are present on a site. To see the numerous combinations of vegetation present on rangeland visit:  Vegetation Types on Rangelands

Forces that Shape Rangeland

The type of vegetation found on a site and the function of rangeland ecosystems are greatly influenced by several processes including succession, disturbance (e.g. herbivory, fire, and climatic variation), and nutrient cycling. For more detailed information go to:  Forces that Shape Rangelands

How Rangelands Change Through Time

The vegetation on rangeland is always changing, often slowly, toward one of several or more plant communities.Understanding why vegetation changes and how to manipulate that change is critical for rangeland managers to ensure that rangelands continue to provide the goods and services required by society. For a complete description of what drives the constant change on rangelands see: How Rangelands Change Through Time

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