Tropical Grasslands (1994) Volume 28, 241–246

State and transition models for rangelands.
6. State and transition models as aids to communication between scientists and land managers


1Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, CSIRO, Townsville, and
2Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


State and transition models were originally pro posed as tools to help producers and other land managers make decisions about managing range lands, and research workers identify critical research questions. Both of these functions are essentially communication functions. While state and transition models have been widely discussed by rangeland scientists, they have had little application at a practical level. Existing models are simple, qualitative and descriptive rather than explanatory. These characters govern their use as communication tools. They may be used in general education or to present aspects of the vegetation dynamics of specific communities in a simple way. More detailed models may be appropriate as an aid to decision making at a regional and property level or for finer scales. Further development of state and transition models could involve improved functional descriptions, quantification, more precise targeting of vegetation types and accommodation of spatial phenomena. It is important that any model strikes a balance in terms of degree of complexity i.e. between detail and simplicity.

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