Integrating Erosion Models Into Land Health Assessments to Better Understand Landscape Condition

Brandi Wheeler, Nicholas Webb, Jason Williams, Akasha Faist, Brandon E. Edwards, Jeffrey Herrick, Nika Lepak, Emily Kachergis, Sarah McCord, Beth Newingham, Nicole Pietrasiak, David Toledo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Wind and water erosion can severely impact natural resources and ecosystem services, making soil erosion management essential to sustaining agroecosystems. Land health assessment protocols, such as Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (IIRH), provide valuable information to make decisions on managing soil erosion in vulnerable drylands. Using quantitative erosion models with land health assessments can further inform management decisions. For example, sediment transport estimates from the Aeolian EROsion (AERO) model and Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM) can help in understanding the impacts of differences in soil and vegetation on wind and water erosion risk. In this article, we provide a conceptual basis for using AERO and RHEM to support IIRH assessments that are used extensively by managers across United States rangelands. We describe how using erosion models with IIRH can (1) improve understanding about potential erosion rates for different types of storm events; (2) support identifying areas at risk of erosion where erosion evidence is not (yet) significant; (3) increase land health assessment consistency by providing reproducible erosion indicators; (4) provide another line of evidence to support assessment conclusions about land health; and (5) improve understanding about potential erosion rates across ecologically similar sites and over time. Effectively using erosion models to support land health assessments will improve wind and water erosion management in drylands, thus helping to protect and restore these ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRangeland Ecology and Management
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Adaptive management
  • Aeolian EROsion (AERO) model
  • Rangeland health
  • Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM)
  • Soil erosion

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