A state-and-transition model to guide grassland management

Steve J. Sinclair, Tara Zamin, Paul Gibson-Roy, Joshua Dorrough, Nathan Wong, Vanessa Craigie, Georgia E. Garrard, Joslin L. Moore

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Grassland ecosystems across the globe have been extensively modified and degraded by agriculture and urban development, leaving conservation managers with a complex set of interacting legacies and opportunities to contend with. We advocate the use of state-and-transition models to assist conservation managers to deal with this complexity. Using a major development and compensation project as a case study (The Melbourne Strategic Assessment under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999), we discuss the uses and limitations of state-and-transition models for conservation management. We define a state-and-transition model for an endangered Australian temperate grassland. Soil and vegetation data are used to evaluate the model and confirm that the assigned states relate to observable agro-ecological patterns. We then discuss the use of this model for several different interacting purposes: as a tool for the simple communication of complex ecological processes; as a tool for landscape stratification to aid the spatial application of management and experimentation; as a framework to set and define conservation objectives; and as an aide for adaptive management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-453
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • adaptive management
  • management objectives
  • natural temperate grassland
  • prairie
  • Themeda triandra

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