Learning From the Land

Extending State-and-Transition Models for Adaptive Management
of Wildlife Habitat on Western Rangelands

A Colorado State University-University of Wyoming demonstration and outreach project

Learning from the Land promotes adoption and application of state-and-transition models (STMs) for adaptive management of sage-grouse habitat in northwestern Colorado and Wyoming.

Deer herd on a field

What is a State-and-Transition Model (STM)?

State-and-transition models (STMs) are diagrams that represent our best available knowledge of how different types of land (i.e., ecological sites) change over time in response to management (e.g. grazing, livestock grazing, shrub control) and disturbances (e.g. fire, drought). STMs typically look like box-and-arrow diagrams.

We aim to broaden the applicability of STMs by including wildlife and habitat indicators, and other ecosystem services within STMs. We use a participatory approach to STM development by involving local stakeholders like ranchers and agency staff as “co-researchers” and advisors in the process of creating STMs. Doing so makes models more robust by integrating local and expert knowledge, and makes STMs more transparent and accessible to end-users.

Our Objectives

  1. Streamline, test and evaluate the participatory development of state-and-transition models (STMs) that incorporate sage-grouse habitat conditions,
  2. Demonstrate their utility for adaptive management of sage-grouse habitat and livestock production,
  3. Adapt our successful S&T model game to local conditions while developing an easily up-datable/adaptable interface for broader use by educators, and thereby
  4. Increase awareness and adoption of STMs by ranchers while contributing to NRCS objectives of revising ecological site descriptions and promoting adaptive management and monitoring of sage-grouse habitat.

Learning form the Land is Supported by a USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, and the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. Additional support provided by the Center for Collaborative Conservation Fellows Program.