Ecological Model for Seral Stage Classification and Monitoring with Key Plants on Sandy Ecological Sites in Nebraska and South Dakota


  • Daniel W. W. Uresk USDA Forest Service, Rapid City, SD 57701
  • Daryl E. Mergen Colorado Springs, CO
  • Jody Javersak Sitka AK


monitoring, succession, seral stage, south dakota, canopy cover, prairie sandreed, sun sedge, little bluestem, classification monitoring, range management, sand hills, plant succession, state transition, key plants, seral stage classification, Nebraska, South Dakota


The objectives were to develop a multivariate model (state and transition) to define and classify seral stages with capabilities that enable us to monitor vegetation changes with three key plant species within a sandy ecological site located in the Sand Hills of Nebraska and South Dakota.  Three key plant species, prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa longifolia) /little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)/sun sedge (Carex inops) provided inputs for the model to classify seral stages and to monitor vegetation transitions based on index values (canopy cover (%) x frequency of occurrence (%)) from field measurements within the full range of natural variability.  The model does not require a straight progression through all seral stages or plant phases but may go through multiple stages or remain at a steady state.  Four seral stages that represent early to late succession provided an assignment accuracy of 90 percent.  Seral stages were significantly different (P<0.05) from each other.  Application of the model to predict seral stages and vegetation monitoring is accurate, quantitative and free of subjective judgments.






Biological Sciences - Botany [Articles]