Information about rangeland ecosystems is gathered at range reference areas, or exclosures, which are fenced sites and the area immediately surrounding them. These sites are located invarious natural subregions and plant communities and are periodically assessed to learn about forage productivity and plant species composition across the province.
Changes in plant species composition and forage production are a reflection of many different factors including:
- rangeland health
- site potential
What range reference areas tell us
Many range reference areas were established in the early 1950’s and have provided valuable insight into:
- ecological succession
- the recovery of altered plant communities
- the impact of climate on plant communities and forage production
Information collected from reference areas has led to the development of Alberta’s plant community classification system and associated Range Plant Community Guides. For information on the guides, see: Range classification and survey tools.
Long-term data from the range reference areas has been used in research studies by:
- academic institutions
- Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
Range reference area reports
These reports are summarized by natural subregion or individual range reference area. See below for a selection of reports:
- Long-term Trends in Rangeland Health of the Rough Fescue Ecological Site in the Montane
- Rangeland Health for Native and Modified Plant Communities in the Rough Fescue Ecological Site of the Montane Subregion
- History and Description of the Castle River Range Reference Area
- Carbondale Range Reference Area
- Castle River Range Reference Area
- Lynx Bench Range Reference Area
- Lynx Slope Range Reference Area
- South Castle Bench Range Reference Area
- South Castle Slope Range Reference Area
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