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264 CE Specialist in Rangeland Soils


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This proposal has been formally submitted for the 2012 cycle.



I have carefully read the proposed position announcement for the CE Specialist in Rangeland Soils and strongly urge UCANR to fund this position. California lacks the critical capacity to stitch together the tremendous amount of work that has been performed in mapping the state's soils and understanding the relationship between these soils and the communities of animals and plants that can be supported sustainably by them. The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service has done a tremendous job developing theoretical frameworks of ecological sites and associated state-and-transition models in other regions, but California lags behind because of its complexity and 'invaded' nature. California is way behind in testing hypotheses and developing meaningful predictive models of vegetation and response to climate, herbivory, fire and other disturbance factors. California's biodiversity and dominance by invasive Mediterranean annuals is overwhelming, compared to other regions where NRCS has advanced this work. Furthermore, while California is a leader in its understanding of vegetation from what exists on the ground today (e.g. "A Manual of California Vegetation" second edition), much of this search for knowledge has occurred with little regard to edaphic variables or the vegetation responses that arise from grazing and fire. I have recently reviewed some excellent research proposals submitted to the ANR Competitive Grant Program. What they lack is a rangeland soil ecologist who can bridge the gap between soil science and biogeochemistry and terrestrial ecology. In conclusion, California needs a 21st century, working landscapes-oriented Hans Jenny!
Posted Jun 5, 2012 10:01 AM by Susan Edinger Marshall
I whole heartedly agree with Susan Edinger Marshall. The range profession in California should begin to put more emphasis on soils and their influence on ecosystem processes. Research done by a UCCE rangeland soils specialist will help provide additional insights to range managers and will aid in decision making for those on the ground.
Posted Jun 10, 2012 1:41 PM by Devii Rao
I support funding the CE Specialist in Rangeland Soils position. As a nonprofit sector land manager, we are in great need of better science in this area to assist with developing meaningful land management strategies.
Posted Jun 11, 2012 1:12 PM by Michael White
This is a particularly well-conceived and described Specialist position. As such, it suggests strong backing from within UCCE and ANR, which will be critical to the selected scientist's success in the ambitious roles proposed.

The relevance of the proposed Specialist position to the emerging conservation theory and analyses of ecosystem services and sustainable working landscapes is both striking and promising. This position could bridge the gap between modern, mostly international, conservation theory (sustainable development, community based conservation, food security, ecosystem health, ecosystem services) and the very popular coalitions that have brought together the professional managers grass-roots and the agency regulators top-down approaches. While the basic issue of misunderstandings about the role of science in practical management is daunting and frustrating, this Specialist position could bridge that gap.

Among the proposed research topics, the work on California rangelands soils and Ecological Site Descriptions by the NRCS and UCCE cooperators presents the unique opportunity to develop and test models predicting the effectiveness of management strategies and practices to achieve conservation improvements. This position should have a focus on soils, but not only on soils. The research should help to clarify whether many current, but unsubstantiated claims about grazing management effects (such as grazing systems) are valid, how each may pose conservation risks, and help define which strategies and practices can maintain the local livestock industry and minimize the negative effects of grazing.

Establishment of this new Specialist position would also signal to the two coalitions that UCCE is taking its role as provider of scientific support very seriously.
Posted Aug 6, 2012 9:45 PM by Lawrence D Ford

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