Ecological site R080BY159TX
Sandy Loam 26-33" PZ
Last updated: 10/10/2018
Provisional. A provisional ecological site description has undergone quality control and quality assurance review. It contains a working state and transition model and enough information to identify the ecological site.
Figure 1. Mapped extent
Areas shown in blue indicate the maximum mapped extent of this ecological site. Other ecological sites likely occur within the highlighted areas. It is also possible for this ecological site to occur outside of highlighted areas if detailed soil survey has not been completed or recently updated.
Major Land Resource Area (MLRA): 080B–Texas North-Central Prairies
MLRA 80B consists of gently rolling, dissected plains with very steep hillsides and sideslopes and narrow flood plains associated with small streams. Loamy and clayey soils range from very shallow to deep and developed in sandstones, shales, and limestones of Pennsylvanian age.
This ecological site is correlated to soil components at the Major Land Resource Area (MLRA) level which is further described in USDA Ag Handbook 296.
Ecological site concept
These sites occur over deep sandy loam soils on uplands. The reference vegetation consists of native perennial tall and midgrasses with a variety of forbs and few scattered trees. Without periodic fire or other brush management, woody species may increase and dominate the site.
Loamy Bottomland 26-33" PZ
Adjacent position in downslope position which receives overflow water from adjacent sites.
Loamy 26-33" PZ
Adjacent site in similar landscape position with shallower soils.
Loamy Sand 26-33" PZ
Adjacent site in similar landscape position with deeper and sandier soils.
Sandstone Hill 26-33" PZ
Adjacent site in upslope position.
Sandy Loam 30-38" PZ
MLRA adjacent to southeastern counties. Similar species but more tallgrasses and more trees and shrubs. Somewhat higher production.
Tight Sandy Loam 26-33" PZ
Similar species but significantly lower production; soil/water/plant relationship not as good because soils are tighter.
Sandy Loam 29-33" PZ
MLRA adjacent to eastern counties. Similar species but more tallgrasses and more trees and shrubs. Significantly higher production.
Loamy Sand 26-33" PZ
Similar species and production, greater forb and shrub component, deeper and sandier soils, and more susceptible to wind erosion.
Sandy Loam 25-28" PZ
MLRA adjacent to western counties Similar species but fewer tallgrasses and fewer trees and shrubs. Somewhat lower production.
SANDY LOAM 24-29" PZ
MLRA adjacent to northeastern counties. Similar species but more tallgrasses and more trees and shrubs. Similar production.
Sandy Loam 23-31" PZ
MLRA adjacent to western counties. Similar species but fewer tallgrasses, trees and shrubs. Significant lower production.
Table 1. Dominant plant species
(1) Quercus stellata
(1) Schizachyrium scoparium
This site occurs on linear to convex dip slopes and ridges as well as on treads and risers of stream terraces in the Texas North-Central Prairies. This site is characteristically a water distributing site.
Table 2. Representative physiographic features
(2) Stream terrace
|Runoff class||Low to medium|
|Elevation||750 – 2,400 ft|
|Slope||1 – 8%|
|Aspect||Aspect is not a significant factor|
The climate is subtropical subhumid and is characterized by hot humid summers and relatively mild winters. Tropical maritime air controls the climate during spring, summer and fall. In winter and early spring, frequent surges of polar Canadian air cause sudden drops in temperatures and add considerable variety to the daily weather. The average first frost generally occurs about November 5 and the last freeze of the season usually occurs about March 19. The average frost free period ranges from 215 days in the northern counties, to 240 days in the south.
The average relative humidity in mid-afternoon is about 60 percent in the summer months. Humidity is higher at night, and the average at dawn is about 80 percent. The sun shines 75 percent of the time possible during the summer and 50 percent in winter. The prevailing wind direction is from the southwest and highest windspeeds occur during the spring months.
Approximately 75% of annual rainfall occurs between April 1 and October 31. Rainfall during the months of April through September typically occurs during thunderstorms which tend to be intense and brief, resulting in large amounts of rain in a short time. The wettest months of the year are May, June, September, and October. The driest months during the growing season are July and August. The winter months of November, December, January, and February are the driest months overall.
Average annual precipitation for the entire MLRA is approximately 28 inches. There is a noticeable difference in the average annual precipitation in the northern counties in comparison to the southern and western counties of this Major Land Resource Area. Jack, Clay, Young, and Palo Pinto Counties all have an average annual precipitation of more than 31 inches. Stephens, Eastland, McCulloch, and San Saba Counties all have an average annual precipitation of less than 28 inches.
Winters tend to be mild, with occasional periods of very cold temperatures which can be accompanied by strong northerly winds and freezing precipitation. Snow is infrequent and significant accumulations are rare. These periods of very cold weather are generally short-lived. Summers tend to be hot and dry. Drought conditions are common during most summers. Air temperatures of more than 95oF are common from mid-June through September. In the northern counties nearest to the Red River, temperatures are generally slightly cooler during winter months and slightly warmer during summer months than in the other counties in the North Central Prairie.
Table 3. Representative climatic features
|Frost-free period (average)||227 days|
|Freeze-free period (average)||262 days|
|Precipitation total (average)||30 in|
Figure 2. Monthly precipitation range
Figure 3. Monthly average minimum and maximum temperature
Figure 4. Annual precipitation pattern
Figure 5. Annual average temperature pattern
Influencing water features
These areas may receive some water via runoff from adjacent sites. They also may shed some water to lower landscapes. However, the presence of good ground cover and deep rooted grasses can help facilitate infiltration of water into the soil.
Representative soil components for this ecological site include: Apalo, Bastrop, Bonti, Minwells, Newcastle, Rochelle, Vashti
The site is characterized by moderately deep to very deep loamy well drained soils.
Table 4. Representative soil features
(2) Residuum – sandstone
(3) Alluvium – claystone
(4) Residuum – claystone
(1) Fine sandy loam
(2) Very fine sandy loam
|Drainage class||Moderately well drained to well drained|
|Permeability class||Very slow to slow|
|Soil depth||20 in|
|Surface fragment cover <=3"||2%|
|Surface fragment cover >3"||2%|
|Available water capacity
|4 – 10 in|
|Calcium carbonate equivalent
|Sodium adsorption ratio
|Soil reaction (1:1 water)
|5.1 – 7.8|
|Subsurface fragment volume <=3"
(Depth not specified)
|Subsurface fragment volume >3"
(Depth not specified)
The reference plant community for the Sandy Loam ecological site is a tallgrass/midgrass oak savanna. Evidence of the historic vegetation can be found in the journals and records of explorers, military expeditions, and boundary survey teams.
Climate is a major factor influencing vegetation on the site. Long-term droughts lasting multiple years or growing seasons are infrequent, but when they do occur, they can have a negative impact on the vegetation. If abusive grazing occurs during or immediately following the drought period, the results can be devastating. The effects of erratic seasonal moisture and short-term dry spells lasting a few months are not as severe as those caused by long-term droughts. However, the lower the ecological status of the site, the greater the negative impact will be during drought periods regardless of duration.
Fire was an important part of the ecosystem. Most ecosystems in the North Central Prairie developed in a 4 to 6 year regime of recurring fires. Many of these fires resulted from lightning strikes during thunderstorms. Native Americans frequently set fires to manipulate the movement of bison and other animals as well as a defensive or offensive technique when dealing with their enemies. These historic fires were usually severe because of the amount of grass fuel available to carry the fire. The intensity of fires kept shrubs and sapling trees suppressed and allowed grasses and forbs to flourish. Tallgrass species are fire tolerant and are enhanced by periodic burning. Forbs usually increase for a year or two following these fires before the grasses become dominant again.
Lack of fire allows herbaceous vegetation to become senescent and may eventually lead to the loss of the most desirable species. Seedlings of non-native brush species and invasive weeds may encroach on the site from adjacent sites.
Prior to settlement, this site was subject to periodic grazing and browsing by vast herds of bison, wild cattle, wild horses, and deer. At times these grazing and browsing episodes were intense and severe, but periods of heavy use were followed by long periods of non-use as the herds migrated to fresh grazing areas before returning to previously grazed areas. The grazed areas had an opportunity to rest, regrow, regain vigor, and reproduce prior to the next grazing event. Intervals between grazing periods were frequently influenced by the amount of time that had elapsed since the last fire on the area.
As the region was settled, fire was reduced or eliminated and grasslands were fenced off to control movement and facilitate grazing by domestic livestock. As a result of abusive grazing or lack of grazing and/or the elimination of fire, in association with extreme climatic events, the tallgrass plant community has been eliminated or severely reduced on most Sandy Loam sites.
Further deterioration leads to the loss of the perennial warm-season midgrass and forb plant community and an increase in short grasses, annuals, and bare ground. This provides the opportunity for less desirable woody species such as mesquite and pricklypear to encroach from adjacent sites. As the amount of bare ground increases, so does the potential for wind erosion.
Selective individual removal of undesirable trees and shrubs is relatively easy and more practical when brush plants initially appear on the site. The increase of brush can be fairly rapid and the plants per acre will soon become too numerous for individual control to be feasible. Once woody plants become mature or develop into dense stands, control is expensive, uneconomical, impractical, and difficult to achieve. Brush management is most successful using a systems approach. Initial treatment by mechanical methods can be followed by using approved herbicides, and using prescribed fire as a maintenance technique. Prescribed grazing with a reasonable stocking rate can sustain the grass species composition and production at a near reference level.
Changes in plant communities and vegetation states on the Sandy loam site are result of the combined influences of natural events (rainfall, temperature, droughts, etc.) and the accompanying management systems implemented on the area (prescribed fire, grazing management, and brush management).
Rangeland Health Reference Worksheets have been posted for this site on the Texas NRCS website (www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov) in Section II of the eFOTG under (F) Ecological Site Descriptions.
State and Transitional Pathways:
The State and Transition Diagram which follows provides information on some of the most typical pathways that the vegetation on this site can follow as the result of natural events, management inputs, and application of conservation treatments. There may be other plant communities that can exist on this site under certain conditions. Consultation with local experts and professionals is recommended prior to application of practices or management strategies in order to ensure that specific objectives will be met.
State and transition model
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State 1 submodel, plant communities
The reference plant community for the Sandy Loam ecological site is a Tallgrass/Midgrass Savanna Community. Historically, the plant community consisted primarily of tallgrasses with a significant component of midgrasses, an abundance of forbs, and individual trees and shrubs or oak mottes distributed throughout the landscape. Little bluestem is the dominant grass with a significant amount of other tallgrasses. Midgrasses and a wide variety of forbs are also a significant component of the plant community. Trees and shrubs are also scattered across the landscape. Annual production ranges from 2800 to 6000 pounds per acre. In the Little Bluestem Dominant Community, little bluestem totally dominates the site as other tallgrasses decrease and their presence is significantly reduced. Little bluestem becomes very dominant and may comprise as much as 60% of the total plant community in this phase. Sideoats grama also tends to increase somewhat in this initial stage of retrogression. Species composition of forbs, shrubs, and trees generally remains static in this phase. Annual production ranges from 2400 to 5200 pounds per acre. In the Midgrass Community, tallgrasses such as Indiangrass, big bluestem, and switchgrass are almost completely eliminated from the site, but remnant populations and widely scattered individual plants remain in protected areas. They are often unnoticed because they are grazed very short, are in low vigor, and are not prominent on the site. Little bluestem and sideoats grama begin to decrease in abundance and production. Western ragweed, broomweed, and annual forbs begin to replace more desirable perennial forbs. Mesquite, pricklypear, tasajillo, juniper, and greenbriar begin to increase in density or invade from adjacent sites. Annual production ranges from 2000 to 3600 pounds per acre.
The reference plant community for the Sandy Loam ecological site is a tallgrass/midgrass savanna. The Sandy Loam site in this MLRA is a transitional site between the Sandy Loam sites that occur in the midgrass prairies to the west and those that are found in the tallgrass/oak savannas to the east. Historically, the plant community consisted primarily of tallgrasses with a significant component of midgrasses, an abundance of forbs, and individual trees and shrubs or oak mottes distributed throughout the landscape. Little bluestem is the dominant grass with a significant amount of other tallgrasses including Indiangrass and big bluestem, and lesser amounts of switchgrass. Midgrasses such as sideoats grama, Arizona cottontop, silver bluestem, Texas wintergrass, sand lovegrass, vine mesquite and dropseeds are also a significant component of the plant community. A wide variety of forbs occupy this plant community. The most common forbs are heath aster, Engelmann daisy, gayfeather, prairie clover, bundleflower, daleas, evening primrose, sagewort, and American basketflower. Post oak, blackjack oak, hackberry, and elm trees are distributed throughout the site. Shrubs such as skunkbush sumac, plum, bumelia, pricklyash, and catclaw acacia are also scattered across the landscape. Annual production ranges from 2800 to 6000 pounds per acre.
Figure 8. Annual production by plant type (representative values) or group (midpoint values)
Table 5. Annual production by plant type
Figure 9. Plant community growth curve (percent production by month). TX3014, Tall and mid-grass Savannah, 10 % canopy. Tall and mid grass savannah with some forbs and woody species..
Little Bluestem Dominant Community
The initial stage of retrogression occurs as a result of disturbances such as extended drought, frequent short-term heavy grazing, etc. Indiangrass, big bluestem, switchgrass, purpletop, and sand lovegrass begin to decline and their presence is significantly reduced. Little bluestem becomes very dominant and may comprise as much as 60% of the total plant community in this phase. Sideoats grama also tends to increase somewhat in this initial stage of retrogression. Species composition of forbs, shrubs, and trees generally remains static in this phase. Annual production ranges from 2400 to 5200 pounds per acre.
Figure 11. Annual production by plant type (representative values) or group (midpoint values)
Table 6. Annual production by plant type
Figure 12. Plant community growth curve (percent production by month). TX3014, Tall and mid-grass Savannah, 10 % canopy. Tall and mid grass savannah with some forbs and woody species..
Severe disturbances such as heavy continuous grazing, persistent drought conditions, or combinations of heavy continuous grazing, extreme climatic conditions, and other factors, cause the plant community to change dramatically. Tallgrasses such as Indiangrass, big bluestem, and switchgrass are almost completely eliminated from the site, but remnant populations and widely scattered individual plants remain in protected areas. They are often unnoticed because they are grazed very short, are in low vigor, and are not prominent on the site. Little bluestem and sideoats grama begin to decrease in abundance and production. Silver bluestem, Texas wintergrass, dropseeds, and threeawns become dominant. Western ragweed, broomweed, and annual forbs begin to replace more desirable perennial forbs. Mesquite, pricklypear, tasajillo, juniper, and greenbriar begin to increase in density or invade from adjacent sites. Annual production ranges from 2000 to 3600 pounds per acre.
Figure 14. Annual production by plant type (representative values) or group (midpoint values)
Table 7. Annual production by plant type
Figure 15. Plant community growth curve (percent production by month). TX3020, Midgrass Savannah, 10% canopy. Midgrass savannah with 10 percent canopy cover. Continuous overgrazing led to the decline of tall grasses and the rise of the midgrass species..
Community 1.1 to 1.2
With uncontrolled grazing and no fires, the Tall/Midgrass Community will shift to the Little Bluestem Dominant Community.
Community 1.2 to 1.1
With the implementation of Prescribed Grazing and Prescribed Burning conservation practices, the Little Bluestem Dominant Community can be shifted back to the Tall/Midgrass Community.
Community 1.2 to 1.3
The shift from the Little Bluestem Dominant Community to the Midgrass Community occurs due to Heavy Continuous Grazing and no fires.
Community 1.3 to 1.2
With the use of Prescribed Grazing and Prescribed Burning conservation practices, the Midgrass Community can be reverted to the Little Bluestem Dominant Community.
The Shortgrass/Forbs Community is dominated by shortgrasses and midgrasses such as buffalograss, curlymesquite, threeawns, silver bluestem, dropseeds, and tumble windmillgrass. Western ragweed and broomweed are the dominant forbs. Tallgrass species and many of the more desirable midgrass species no longer exist in sufficient amounts to allow the site to recover through management alone. Annual production ranges from 1000 to 2000 pounds per acre.
Continued deterioration of the plant community due to abusive grazing and/or other destructive disturbances eventually results in a plant community dominated by shortgrasses and midgrasses such as buffalograss, curlymesquite, threeawns, silver bluestem, dropseeds, and tumble windmillgrass. Western ragweed and broomweed are the dominant forbs. Bare ground can become significant in the most deteriorated state. Tallgrass species and many of the more desirable midgrass species no longer exist in sufficient amounts to allow the site to recover through management alone. Annual production ranges from 1000 to 2000 pounds per acre.
Figure 17. Annual production by plant type (representative values) or group (midpoint values)
Table 8. Annual production by plant type
Figure 18. Plant community growth curve (percent production by month). TX3030, Mid/Shortgrass with Mesquite - Buffalograss . Mid and Short Grass with Mesquite; Buffalograss, Texas Wintergrass, and Meadow Dropseed..
In the Shrubland Community, annual forbs and grasses increase, while brush species such as mesquite, lotebush, pricklypear, and tasajillo become well established and therefore eventually developing a canopy of more than 20% on the site. It should also be noted that for areas never having any brush work, yet have been overgrazed and not burned, develop a different composition of brush than ones having brush control. These areas usually have post oaks, and low growing shrubs such as skunkbush, greenbriars, catclaws and elbowbush. Annual production ranges from 1000 to 2000 pounds per acre.
Annual forbs and grasses increase, while brush species such as mesquite, lotebush, pricklypear, and tasajillo become well established and therefore eventually developing a canopy of more than 20% on the site. It should also be noted that for areas never having any brush work, yet have been overgrazed and not burned, develop a different composition of brush than ones having brush control. These areas usually have post oaks, and low growing shrubs such as skunkbush, greenbriars, catclaws and elbowbush. Annual production ranges from 1000 to 2000 pounds per acre.
Figure 20. Annual production by plant type (representative values) or group (midpoint values)
Table 9. Annual production by plant type
Figure 21. Plant community growth curve (percent production by month). TX3030, Mid/Shortgrass with Mesquite - Buffalograss . Mid and Short Grass with Mesquite; Buffalograss, Texas Wintergrass, and Meadow Dropseed..
Converted Land State
Hundreds of thousands of acres have been plowed up and converted to cropland, pastureland, or hayland. This community is known as the Converted Land Community. Wheat is the primary annual crop. Bermudagrass is the primary introduced pasture species used in this area. Abandoned croplands and reseeded areas tend to revert back to a more natural state through the process of secondary succession. This is a very slow process that takes decades or centuries to evolve, dependent on the status of the area at the time it is abandoned. The first plants to establish are “pioneer plants” (annual forbs and grasses followed by early successional shortgrasses and midgrasses). This community is known as the Abandoned Land Community.
Converted Land Community
The Sandy Loam site is one of the most frequently converted sites because of its deep soils, favorable soil/water/plant relationship, and relatively level terrain. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been plowed up and converted to cropland, pastureland, or hayland. Bermudagrass is the primary introduced species used in this area. The Sandy Loam site can be an extremely productive forage producing site with the application of optimum amounts of fertilizer. Refer to Forage Suitability Group Descriptions for specific recommendations, production potentials, species adaptation, etc. In some localized areas, several hundred acres of pecan and peach orchards have been established on the sandy loam soils related to this site. In the highest state of production following conversion, the trees, shrubs and forbs have been severely reduced or eliminated from the site. The more woodies and forbs that occur on a converted site, the lower the overall production would be. The annual production figures below reflect this change. Annual production can range from 3000 to 7000 pounds per acre.
Figure 23. Annual production by plant type (representative values) or group (midpoint values)
Table 10. Annual production by plant type
Figure 24. Plant community growth curve (percent production by month). TX3037, Converted Land Community. Planted to monocultures of introduced species, or monocultures or mixtures of commercially available native tallgrasses. .
Abandoned Land Community
Abandoned croplands and reseeded areas tend to revert back to a more natural state through the process of secondary succession. This is a very slow process that takes decades or centuries dependent on the status of the area at the time it is abandoned. The first plants to establish are annual forbs and grasses followed by early successional shortgrasses and midgrasses. If managed properly, some of these abandoned areas may eventually begin to approximate the diversity and complexity of the native Sandy Loam ecosystem. Midgrasses, perennial forbs, and tallgrasses may begin to establish if the area is carefully managed. However, it is highly unlikely that abandoned lands can ever return to climax vegetation within a reasonable period of time. Annual production ranges from 800 to 1400 pounds per acre.
Figure 26. Annual production by plant type (representative values) or group (midpoint values)
Table 11. Annual production by plant type
Figure 27. Plant community growth curve (percent production by month). TX3038, Abandoned Land Community. Abandoned croplands, pasturelands and seeded areas..
Community 4.1 to 4.2
With abusive grazing, no fires, no brush management, idled land, no pasture/range/orchard/cropland management, the Converted Land Community will shift to the Abandoned Land Community.
Community 4.2 to 4.1
With the implementation of various conservation practices such as Prescribed Grazing, Prescribed Burning, Pasture/Crop Management, Seedbed Preparation, and Range/Pasture Planting, the Abandoned Land Community can be shifted back to the Converted Land Community.
|Conservation Crop Rotation|
|Forage and Biomass Planting|
|Integrated Pest Management (IPM)|
State 1 to 2
With abusive grazing, no fires and no brush management, the Tall/Midgrass State will transition into the Short/Midgrass State.
State 1 to 4
With Range, Pasture or Tree Planting and Crop Cultivation, the Tall/Midgrass State can transition into the Converted Land State.
Restoration pathway R2A
State 2 to 1
The Short/Midgrass State can be restored to the Tall/Midgrass State with the use of various conservation practices including but not limited to Prescribed Grazing, Prescribed Burning, Brush Management, and Range Planting.
State 2 to 3
With the continuation of abusive grazing pressure, no fires and no brush management practices, the Short/Midgrass State will transition into the Shrubland State.
State 2 to 4
With Brush Management, Range, Pasture or Tree Planting and Crop Cultivation, the Short/Midgrass State can transition into the Converted Land State.
Restoration pathway R3A
State 3 to 2
With Prescribed Grazing, Prescribed Burning, Brush Management, Seedbed Preparation, and Range Planting, the Shrubland State can be restored to the Short/Midgrass State.
State 3 to 4
With Brush Management, Seedbed Preparation, Range Planting, Pasture Planting, and Crop Cultivation, the Shrubland State can transition into the Converted Land State.
Additional community tables
Table 12. Community 1.1 plant community composition
|Group||Common name||Symbol||Scientific name||Annual production (lb/acre)||Foliar cover (%)|
|little bluestem||SCSC||Schizachyrium scoparium||500–2000||–|
|big bluestem||ANGE||Andropogon gerardii||0–1000||–|
|purpletop tridens||TRFL2||Tridens flavus||0–900||–|
|sideoats grama||BOCU||Bouteloua curtipendula||300–1000||–|
|Texas wintergrass||NALE3||Nassella leucotricha||200–900||–|
|vine mesquite||PAOB||Panicum obtusum||0–600||–|
|sand lovegrass||ERTR3||Eragrostis trichodes||0–600||–|
|silver beardgrass||BOLAT||Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana||200–600||–|
|Arizona cottontop||DICA8||Digitaria californica||0–600||–|
|Canada wildrye||ELCA4||Elymus canadensis||0–600||–|
|plains lovegrass||ERIN||Eragrostis intermedia||0–300||–|
|marsh bristlegrass||SEPA10||Setaria parviflora||0–300||–|
|composite dropseed||SPCOC2||Sporobolus compositus var. compositus||0–300||–|
|Drummond's dropseed||SPCOD3||Sporobolus compositus var. drummondii||0–300||–|
|sand dropseed||SPCR||Sporobolus cryptandrus||100–300||–|
|thin paspalum||PASE5||Paspalum setaceum||0–100||–|
|blue grama||BOGR2||Bouteloua gracilis||0–600||–|
|hairy grama||BOHIH||Bouteloua hirsuta var. hirsuta||0–300||–|
|fall witchgrass||DICO6||Digitaria cognata||0–200||–|
|Scribner's rosette grass||DIOLS||Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. scribnerianum||0–200||–|
|purple threeawn||ARPU9||Aristida purpurea||0–150||–|
|Wright's threeawn||ARPUW||Aristida purpurea var. wrightii||0–150||–|
|hooded windmill grass||CHCU2||Chloris cucullata||0–100||–|
|tumble windmill grass||CHVE2||Chloris verticillata||0–100||–|
|white heath aster||SYERE||Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides||0–300||–|
|Cuman ragweed||AMPS||Ambrosia psilostachya||0–300||–|
|white sagebrush||ARLUM2||Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana||0–300||–|
|Engelmann's daisy||ENPE4||Engelmannia peristenia||0–300||–|
|Maximilian sunflower||HEMA2||Helianthus maximiliani||0–300||–|
|trailing krameria||KRLA||Krameria lanceolata||0–200||–|
|purple prairie clover||DAPU5||Dalea purpurea||0–200||–|
|Illinois bundleflower||DEIL||Desmanthus illinoensis||0–200||–|
|American star-thistle||CEAM2||Centaurea americana||0–200||–|
|partridge pea||CHFA2||Chamaecrista fasciculata||0–200||–|
|pony beebalm||MOPE||Monarda pectinata||0–200||–|
|yellow puff||NELU2||Neptunia lutea||0–200||–|
|pitcher sage||SAAZG||Salvia azurea var. grandiflora||0–200||–|
|Texas Indian mallow||ABFR3||Abutilon fruticosum||0–100||–|
|white milkwort||POAL4||Polygala alba||0–100||–|
|prairie spiderwort||TROC||Tradescantia occidentalis||0–100||–|
|Texas vervain||VEHA||Verbena halei||0–100||–|
|whitemouth dayflower||COER||Commelina erecta||0–100||–|
|purple poppymallow||CAIN2||Callirhoe involucrata||0–100||–|
|yellow sundrops||CASE12||Calylophus serrulatus||0–100||–|
|curlycup gumweed||GRSQ||Grindelia squarrosa||0–100||–|
|Texas skeletonplant||LYTE||Lygodesmia texana||0–100||–|
|catclaw acacia||ACGRG3||Acacia greggii var. greggii||0–150||–|
|skunkbush sumac||RHTR||Rhus trilobata||0–150||–|
|gum bully||SILA20||Sideroxylon lanuginosum||0–150||–|
|Christmas cactus||CYLE8||Cylindropuntia leptocaulis||0–50||–|
|sugarberry||CELAL||Celtis laevigata var. laevigata||0–450||–|
|netleaf hackberry||CELAR||Celtis laevigata var. reticulata||0–450||–|
|green ash||FRPE||Fraxinus pennsylvanica||0–450||–|
|Texas live oak||QUFU||Quercus fusiformis||0–450||–|
|blackjack oak||QUMA3||Quercus marilandica||0–450||–|
|post oak||QUST||Quercus stellata||150–450||–|
|winged elm||ULAL||Ulmus alata||0–450||–|
|American elm||ULAM||Ulmus americana||0–450||–|
|slippery elm||ULRU||Ulmus rubra||0–450||–|
|honey mesquite||PRGL2||Prosopis glandulosa||0–200||–|
Historically, the Sandy Loam site was inhabited permanently and intermittently by a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, and birds. Several historical references and journals written in the 18th and 19th century by explorers, survey parties, and military expeditions refer to herds of bison, wild cattle, wild horses, deer, and antelope roaming freely across the North Central Prairie and adjacent regions.
Currently, the site is utilized by deer, wild turkey, quail, dove, numerous species of birds, and a variety of small fur-bearing mammals. Animal species and populations fluctuate as the vegetation cycles through temporary phases and different ecological stages.
Livestock grazing should be controlled by implementing grazing management systems that incorporate frequent and timely deferment periods to prevent abusive grazing.
Plant Preference by Animal Kind:
This rating system provides general guidance as to animal preference for plant species. Grazing preference changes from time to time, especially between seasons, and between animal kinds and classes. Grazing preference does not necessarily reflect the ecological status of the plant within the plant community. For wildlife, plant preferences for food and plant suitability for cover are considered.
Legend: P=Preferred D=Desirable U=Undesirable N=Not Consumed T=Toxic X=Used, but not degree of utilization unknown
Preferred – Percentage of plant in animal diet is greater than it occurs on the land
Desirable – Percentage of plant in animal diet is similar to the percentage composition on the land
Undesirable – Percentage of plant in animal diet is less than it occurs on the land
Not Consumed – Plant would not be eaten under normal conditions. Only consumed when other forages not available.
Toxic – Rare occurrence in diet and, if consumed in any tangible amounts results in death or severe illness in animal
When herbaceous vegetation and ground cover are maintained in a healthy and vigorous status, water infiltration into the soil profile is increased significantly, resulting in very little runoff. A thick, healthy grass cover also results in improved water quality because it serves as a filter or trap to reduce sediments and pollutants before the water flows offsite.
These scenic areas offer outdoor activities including photography, bird watching, hiking, camping, horseback riding, and off-road vehicle use. Hunting quail, dove, deer, and turkey can be a lucrative enterprise on properly managed areas because the Sandy Loam site and adjacent sites provide good habitat for a variety of wildlife species.
Post oak and other hardwood trees that occur on this site can be used for firewood, fence posts, and crafts.
Inventory data references
Vegetation data for this site was obtained from existing Range Site Descriptions, SCS-RANGE -417 Production and Composition Records for Native Grazing Lands, and on-site inventories by the author and local experts including ranchers, natural resource specialists from federal and state agencies, and personnel from cooperating agencies and organizations. A total of 3 SCS-RANGE-417’s containing data collected from 3 counties during the period 12/30/1981 to 12/12/1986 were reviewed for this site.
Ajilvsgi, Geyata. Wildflowers of Texas. Sharer Publishing, Bryan, TX. 1984.
Bachand, Richard. The American Prairie: Going, Going, Gone? National Wildlife Federation. Rocky Mountain Natural Resource Center. Boulder, CO. 2001.
Burleson, Bob and Mickey. Personal communication. 9/30/2007
Burns, Paul. Personal communication. 10/4/2007.
Coffey, Chuck R., and Russell Stevens. Grasses of Southern Oklahoma and North Texas: A Pictorial Guide. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK. 2004
Diggs, George M., Jr., Barney L. Lipscomb, and Robert J. O’Kennon. Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas. Botanical Research Institute of Texas. Fort Worth, TX 1999.
Egan, Dave and Evelyn A. Howell. The Historical Ecology Handbook…A Restorationist’s Guide to Reference Ecosystems. Island Press, Washington, DC. 2001.
Enquist, Marshall. Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country. Lone Star Botanical, Austin, TX. 1987.
Flores, Dan. “Indian Use of Range Resources” presented at 20th Annual Ranch Management Conference. Lubbock, TX, September 30, 1983.
Gould, Frank W., The Grasses of Texas. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. 1975.
Hatch, Stephan L., Kancheepuram N. Gandhi, and Larry E. Brown. Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Agricultural Experiment Station MP-1655. College Station, TX. 1990
Hatch, Stephan L., Jennifer Pluhar. Texas Range Plants. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. 1993.
Johnson, Rhett. Personal communication. 9/18/2007.
Kelton, Elmer. “History of Rancher Use of Range Resources” presented at 20th Annual Ranch Management Conference. Lubbock, TX, September 30, 1983.
Ladd, Doug. Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers. Falcon Press, Helena and Billings, MT. 1995.
Larrabee, Aimee and John Altman. Last Stand of the Tallgrass Prairie. Sterling Publishing Co., New York, NY. 2001.
Merz, Dalton. Personal communication. 9/29/2007.
Nelson, Paul W. The Terrestrial Natural Communities of Missouri. Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 1985.
Packard, Stephen and Cornelia F. Mutel. The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook for Prairies, Savannas, and Woodlands. Island Press, Washington, DC. 1997.
Parker, W.B. Through Unexplored Texas In The Summer and Fall of 1854. The Texas State Historical Commission. Austin, TX 1984
Smith, Jared G. Grazing Problems in the Southwest and How to Meet Them. United States Department of Agriculture Division of Agrostology. Washington, DC. 1899.
Texas Almanac Sesquicentennial Edition 1857-2007. Dallas Morning News. Dallas, TX. 2006.
Tyrl, Ronald J., Terrence G. Bidwell, and Ronald E. Masters. Field Guide to Oklahoma Plants. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK. 2002.
United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA. The PLANTS Database. http://plants.usda.gov 2007.
United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ag Handbook 296. Land Resource Regions and Major Land Resource Areas of the United States, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Basin. 2006.
United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Temple, TX. Sandy Loam Ecological Site Descriptions R078AY605TX, R080AY138TX, R084BY174TX, R085XY562TX, and Sandy Loam Prairie Ecological Site Description 078CY110TX. 2006.
United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service, Temple, TX. Production and Composition Record for Native Grazing Lands. SCS-RANGE 417 data from Brown, Eastland, Jack, Stephens, and Young Counties. 1981-1986.
United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service, Washington, DC. Web Soil Survey http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/. 2007
United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service, Temple, TX. Published Soil Surveys: Brown and Mills, Jack, Palo Pinto, Stephens, and Young Counties. Various publication dates.
United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service, Temple, TX. Range Site Descriptions for the North Central Prairie counties. Various publication dates.
Vines, Robert A. Trees of North Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. 1982
Weniger, Del. The Explorers’ Texas. Eakin Publications. Austin, TX. 1984.
Williams, Gerald W. References On The American Indian Use Of Fire in Ecosystems. United States Department of Agriculture – Forest Service, Washington, DC. 2005.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the following for their cooperation, assistance, and support in the development of this Ecological Site Description:
Tony Baeza, NRCS – Breckenridge, TX
John T. Baker, rancher – Dallas, TX
Baker Ranch – Mineral Wells, TX
Paul Burns, rancher – Austin, TX
Byerly Ranch - Graham, TX
Tony Dean, NRCS – Henrietta, TX
Matt Gregory, NRCS – Jacksboro, TX
Ricky Marks, NRCS – Brownwood, TX
John Paclik, NRCS – Graham, TX
Misty Pearcy, NRCS – Brownwood, TX
Lem Creswell, RMS, NRCS, Weatherford, Texas
Justin Clary, RMS, NRCS, Temple, Texas
Dan Caudle, DMC Resource Management, Weatherford, Texas
David Kraft, 10/10/2018
Site Development and Testing Plan:
Future work, as described in a Project Plan, to validate the information in this Provisional Ecological Site Description is needed. This will include field activities to collect low, medium and high intensity sampling, soil correlations, and analysis of that data. Annual field reviews should be done by soil scientists and vegetation specialists. A final field review, peer review, quality control, and quality assurance reviews of the ESD will be needed to produce the final document. Annual reviews of the Project Plan are to be conducted by the Ecological Site Technical Team.
Rangeland health reference sheet
Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health is a qualitative assessment protocol used to determine ecosystem condition based on benchmark characteristics described in the Reference Sheet. A suite of 17 (or more) indicators are typically considered in an assessment. The ecological site(s) representative of an assessment location must be known prior to applying the protocol and must be verified based on soils and climate. Current plant community cannot be used to identify the ecological site.
|Author(s)/participant(s)||Lem Creswell, Zone RMS, NRCS, Weatherford, Texas|
|Contact for lead author||817-596-2865|
|Approved by||Mark Moseley, RMS, NRCS, San Antonio, Texas|
|Composition (Indicators 10 and 12) based on||Annual Production|
Number and extent of rills:None.
Presence of water flow patterns:Water flow patterns are noticeable only in areas close to intermittent creeks that occur within the site. Deposition or erosion is uncommon for normal rainfall but may occur during intense rainfall events.
Number and height of erosional pedestals or terracettes:Uncommon.
Bare ground from Ecological Site Description or other studies (rock, litter, lichen, moss, plant canopy are not bare ground):Expect no more than 10% bare ground randomly distributed throughout.
Number of gullies and erosion associated with gullies:Some gullies may be present on side drains into perennial and intermittent streams. Gullies should be vegetated and stable.
Extent of wind scoured, blowouts and/or depositional areas:None.
Amount of litter movement (describe size and distance expected to travel):Under normal rainfall, little litter movement should be expected. However, litter of all sizes may move long distances due to obstructions.
Soil surface (top few mm) resistance to erosion (stability values are averages - most sites will show a range of values):Soil surface under HCPC is resistant to erosion. Stability class range is expected to be 5-6.
Soil surface structure and SOM content (include type of structure and A-horizon color and thickness):0-8 inches thick that has brown fine sandy loam with weak fine subangular blocky structure. SOM is approximately 1-6%. See soil survey.
Effect of community phase composition (relative proportion of different functional groups) and spatial distribution on infiltration and runoff:The savanna of warm-season tallgrasses and midgrasses and forbs having adequate litter and little bare ground provides for maximum infiltration and little runoff under normal rainfall events.
Presence and thickness of compaction layer (usually none; describe soil profile features which may be mistaken for compaction on this site):None.
Functional/Structural Groups (list in order of descending dominance by above-ground annual-production or live foliar cover using symbols: >>, >, = to indicate much greater than, greater than, and equal to):
Dominant:Warm-season tallgrasses >>
Sub-dominant:Warm-season midgrasses > Forbs >
Other:Cool-season grasses > Trees > Shrubs/Vines > Warm-season shortgrasses
Amount of plant mortality and decadence (include which functional groups are expected to show mortality or decadence):Grasses due to their growth habit will exhibit some mortality and decadence, though very slight.
Average percent litter cover (%) and depth ( in):Litter is dominantly herbaceous.
Expected annual annual-production (this is TOTAL above-ground annual-production, not just forage annual-production):2800 to 6000 pounds per acre.
Potential invasive (including noxious) species (native and non-native). List species which BOTH characterize degraded states and have the potential to become a dominant or co-dominant species on the ecological site if their future establishment and growth is not actively controlled by management interventions. Species that become dominant for only one to several years (e.g., short-term response to drought or wildfire) are not invasive plants. Note that unlike other indicators, we are describing what is NOT expected in the reference state for the ecological site:Mesquite, pricklypear, tasajillo, lotebush, bermudagrass, johnsongrass, King Ranch bluestem, annual broomweed.
Perennial plant reproductive capability:All perennial plants should be capable of reproducing, except during periods of prolonged drought conditions, heavy herbivory, and wildfires.
The Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool is an information system framework developed by the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and New Mexico State University.
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