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Justin D. Derner

Dr. Derner serves as Lead Scientist for the NP215 (Pasture, Forage and Rangeland Systems) project entitled "Improved Management to Balance Production and Conservation in Great Plains Rangelands." This multi-disciplinary team of scientists develops and provides private and public land managers the necessary tools for properly managing semiarid rangelands for multiple ecosystem goods and services with extreme and variable weather. Overarching questions for our research are: 1) How can science be conducted in a real-world manner (i.e., at ranch-level scales with manager involvement) to evaluate effectiveness of adaptive grazing management for both production and conservation?, and 2) How effective are management and conservation practices on individual ecological sites within the landscape? This project uses: 1) novel, collaborative adaptive grazing experiments to achieve desired production and conservation outcomes, 2) multiple remote sensing platforms and ground-based sampling to determine effectiveness of management and conservation practices for different ecological sites in large landscapes (>75,000 ha) of the western Great Plains, and 3) long-term, historical data to determine relationships between livestock weight gains and climatic variability in the Great Plains. Coordinated regional/national efforts involve other ARS units and networks (e.g. Long-Term Agro-ecosystem Research, LTAR), universities and producers. Outcomes from this research will help fill identified gaps in the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP), provide large-scale assessments of the effectiveness of management and conservation practices on individual ecological sites, and promote dynamic stocking rates for adaptation to climatic variability.

Featured Work

J. D. Derner and D. J. Augustine. 2016. Adaptive management for drought on rangelands. Rangelands 211-215.

Derner, J.D., Augustine, D.J., Porensky, L.M., Eisele, M., Roberts, K., Ritten, J. 2016. Flexible stocking strategies for adapting to climatic variability. 2016 Proceedings of the 10th International Rangeland Congress. Available at (pages 921-923).

Hamilton, T.W., J. P. Ritten, C. T. Bastian, J. D. Derner, J. A. Tanaka. 2016. Economic impacts of increasing seasonal precipitation variation on southeast Wyoming cow-calf enterprises. Rangeland Ecology & Management 69:465–473

Reeves, J. L., J. D. Derner, M. A. Sanderson, S. L. Kronberg,J. R. Hendrickson, L. T. Vermeire, M. K. Petersen, and J. G. Irisarri. 2015 . Seasonal weather-related decision making for cattle production in the northern great plains. Rangelands 37:119-124, doi: 10.1016/j.rala.2015.03.003

Kachergis, E., J. D. Derner, B. B. Cutts, L. M. Roche, V. T. Eviner, M. N. Lubell, and K. W. Tate. 2014. Increasing flexibility in rangeland management during drought. Ecosphere 5:1-14.

Photo of Dr. Justin Derner, USDA ARS Collaborating Scientist with the USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub


  • Past Director, USDA NPCH
  • Research Leader, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Rangeland Resources and System Research Unit
  • Director, Central Plains Experimental Range Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) Site


USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub, USDA Agricultural Research Service


8408 Hildreth Road
Cheyenne, WY 82009

Phone Number

307-772-2433 x.113


Focus Area