Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool
The Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool (EDIT) is an online information system for the development and sharing of ecological site descriptions, ecosystem state and transition models, and land management knowledge.
Ecological site descriptions
Ecological sites are the basic component of a land-type classification system that describes ecological potential and ecosystem dynamics of land areas. All land/land use types are identified within the ecological site system, including rangeland, pasture, and forest land. An ecological site is defined as a distinctive kind of land with specific soil and physical characteristics that differ from other kinds of land in its ability to produce a distinctive kind and amount of vegetation and its ability to respond similarly to management actions and natural disturbances. Lands are classified considering discrete physical and biotic factors. Physical factors include soils, climate, hydrology, geology, and physiographic features. Biotic factors include plant species occurrence, plant community compositions, annual biomass production, wildlife-vegetation interactions, and other factors. Ecological dynamics, primarily disturbance regimes such as grazing, fire, drought, management actions and all resulting interactions, are also a primary factor in the development of ecological sites. Information and data pertaining to a particular ecological site are organized into a reference document known as an Ecological Site Description (ESD). ESDs function as a primary repository of ecological knowledge regarding an ecological site.
U.S. ecological site groups
This catalog features ecosystem dynamics of the United States by ecoregion. Ecoregions are subdivided into classes known as ecological site groups, and separate models of ecosystem dynamics are developed for each class. Models are used to characterize ecosystem dynamics occurring at the site (land unit) scale, with an emphasis on natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Models may be a generalization of those developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and its partners for individual ecological sites.
What is EDIT?
The Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool was developed to offer natural resource professionals, scientists and others a standard framework for cataloging information about how ecosystems respond to different land uses, management practices, and natural phenomena. EDIT now serves as the primary repository of Ecological Site information produced by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The framework is also being used to support the development of other ecological land classifications in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Who uses EDIT?
EDIT is designed for use by natural resource professionals to assist in the development of Ecological Site information. EDIT may also be used by landowners and technical advisors to find information specific to a field, farm or ranch. EDIT can be used by research scientists to develop landscape-level information on drought vulnerability, the potential for invasive species, or habitat quality, among other uses.
Who manages EDIT?
EDIT is a collaborative effort among the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Jornada Experimental Range and New Mexico State University (NMSU). NRCS is the federal agency responsible for the National Cooperative Soil Survey, of which Ecological Sites are a part. ARS Jornada provides research to support land management in the U.S. and around the world. NMSU is the land grant university for New Mexico. Together, these three organizations provide students, scientists and technical staff to manage the information system.