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Title: Recognizing history in range ecology: 100 years of science and management on the Santa Rita Experimental Range

Author: Sayre, Nathan F.;

Date: 2003

Source: In: McClaran, Mitchel P.; Ffolliott, Peter F.; Edminster, Carleton B., tech. coords. Santa Rita Experimental Range: 100 years (1903 to 2003) of accomplishments and contributions; conference proceedings; 2003 October 30-November 1; Tucson, AZ. Proc. RMRS-P-30. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 1-15.

Publication Series: Proceedings (P)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: At the centennial of the Santa Rita Experimental Range, historical analysis is called for on two levels. First, as a major site in the history of range ecology, the Santa Rita illuminates past successes and failures in science and management and the ways in which larger social, economic, and political factors have shaped scientific research. Second, with the turn away from equilibrium-based models in range science - a turn prompted in part by research at the Santa Rita - there is a growing need for history in range ecology itself. I discuss the needs, premises, and events underlying establishment of the Santa Rita in 1903. Then I examine the evolution of research and management recommendations through four major periods from 1901 to 1988, and I discuss the land swap that transferred the Santa Rita to State ownership in 1988 to 1991. Finally, I consider what effects the Santa Rita has had on rangelands and range management in the region. I argue that a static conception of the carrying capacity of Southwestern rangelands was imposed for economic and political reasons, over the objections or reservations of early range scientists at the Santa Rita, and that this may have contributed both to range depletion and to rancorous relations between public agencies and private ranchers in the twentieth century. To meet society's current demands on rangelands, the long-term, large-scale data assembled from the Santa Rita will be critically important.

Keywords: range science, range ecology, history, carrying capacity, mesquite, Frederic Clements, semiarid rangelands

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Citation:


Sayre, Nathan F. 2003. Recognizing history in range ecology: 100 years of science and management on the Santa Rita Experimental Range. In: McClaran, Mitchel P.; Ffolliott, Peter F.; Edminster, Carleton B., tech. coords. Santa Rita Experimental Range: 100 years (1903 to 2003) of accomplishments and contributions; conference proceedings; 2003 October 30-November 1; Tucson, AZ. Proc. RMRS-P-30. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 1-15.

 


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