This document compares 11 different protocols that can be used to assess meadow condition in California. In this report we present detailed summaries of each of these 11 protocols and make comparisons between them. Our goal is to provide a resource for land managers and others to choose the most appropriate assessment protocol to evaluate the condition of meadows that they manage. We tested protocols in a common set of three meadows and developed a standardized rating system to compare protocol findings.
We did not identify any single protocol as being better than others. Instead, we identified multiple factors that influence protocol ratings. These factors must be considered before choosing a meadow assessment protocol, because they will affect the results. Based on our findings, we emphasize that it is important to clarify the specific objectives and focus of an assessment prior to choosing a protocol for meadow evaluation. The best protocol for any given meadow will depend on the specific goals of the assessment and the ecological context of the meadow. A single protocol will not be appropriate for all meadows, and in some cases, it may be advisable to carry out several protocols in a single meadow. While this report focuses mostly on assessment protocols, it is important to recognize that monitoring is critical for adaptive management. After determining an appropriate protocol to assess meadow condition, we strongly encourage land managers to pursue longer-term monitoring efforts to evaluate trends in meadow condition over time.