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Vegetation and Soils Data from Grazed and Ungrazed Watersheds in the Badger Wash Study Area, Colorado, USA

Data for journal manuscript: Insights from long-term ungrazed and grazed watersheds in a salt desert Colorado Plateau ecosystem


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Duniway, M.C. and Geiger, E.L., 2018, Vegetation and Soils Data from Grazed and Ungrazed Watersheds in the Badger Wash Study Area, Colorado, USA: U.S. Geological Survey data release,


In 2004 U.S. Geological Survey biologists recorded vegetation and biological soil crust (BSC) cover by species as well as measured soil stability and compaction data along 85 transects at the Badger Wash study area in western Colorado. Soil samples were collected and processed for chemistry and texture. Using analysis of variance and nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) we assessed the cover of vegetation and BSC both grouped by plant physiognomy and dynamic soil properties (soil chemistry/nutrients and stability and compaction) as influenced by the effects of grazing history and soil group (which varied by slope, topographic wetness index and soil properties). Vegetation and BSC cover data were also compared to plant cover measurements [...]


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The purpose of these data is to evaluate ecological patterns and processes in watersheds with contrasting grazing histories. We repeated vegetation and ground cover measurements and attempted to repeat the runoff and erosion measurements. However, due to a combination of drought conditions and sedimentation of the retention ponds used in the original studies, we were unsuccessful in measuring runoff and erosion. Therefore, the specific objectives of this study were to 1) determine impact of grazing history on the vegetation community, BSC, soil physical properties, and soil biogeochemistry; 2) evaluate if grazing history effects vary with soil type; and 3) revisit results of previous vegetation studies in Badger Wash, last evaluated in 1972, to assess long-term ecosystem trajectories. To evaluate if grazing history has continued to affect soils and vegetation in the Badger Wash Study Area of western Colorado, plant cover, plant frequency, BSC, soil stability, soil compaction, and soil fertility was assessed along transects in November 2004. To characterize the landscape setting of each transect, basic terrain attributes were calculated using ArcGIS derived from a 5-m resolution digital terrain model acquired with an airborne interfermetric synthetic aperture radar (IFSAR) sensor. To observe how variability in plant cover, BSC cover, and dynamic soil properties among plots related to grazing treatment, soil type, and landscape setting, we utilized non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) with the Sorenson (Bray-Curtis) distance measure. Finally, to provide a more long-term perspective, we compiled data from Lusby and Knipe (1971) and data recovered from the BLM.

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DOI doi:10.5066/F72Z14V4

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