RANGE CONDITION OR SERAL STAGE
Range condition indicates the status or health of the present plant community of a range site in relation to its potential or climax. Range condition reflects changes in vegetation composition, productivity and soil stability.
Condition is given ratings of excellent, good, fair, and poor depending on how far the present plant community is from its potential or climax. The relative contribution of each category of range plant (increaser/decreaser/invader) to the composition of the range site, determines its present condition and condition rating. These ratings are not synonymous with forage value and should not be considered as an indication of the nutritive value of the species present.
Also, do not confuse range condition (health) and annual production. It is inaccurate to describe a range in poor condition due to a year of drought. Forage production may be temporarily less, but the composition of the plant community has not been permanently altered. Prolonged drought will cause range deterioration.
Although the concept remains unaltered, the terminology of range condition has changed in recent years to accommodate the introduced species found on many range sites. The Potential Natural Community (PNC) of a range site is the plant community that would be established if succession were allowed to progress without further human interference (Biodiversity Guidebook). Range condition indicates the status of the present plant community in relation to the PNC for the site. Condition is given ratings of climax, late, mid, or early seral, depending on how far the present plant community is from its PNC. The relative contribution of each category of range plant (increaser, decreaser, invader) to the composition of the range site, determines its present seral stage.