Land Managers (land + managers)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Succession during the re-creation of a flood-meadow 1985-1999

Alison W. McDonald
Rodwell (1993; 2000) for vascular plants Abstract. The study site, Somerford Mead, is located on the river Thames floodplain and was a species-rich flood-meadow in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s it was subjected to intensive grassland management with regular NPK additions and occasional herbicide treatment. In 1981 Somerford Mead was ploughed for the first time and converted to arable land. Seeds of an Alopecuruspratensis-Sanguisorba officinalis flood-meadow community (MG4; Rodwell 1992) were sown onto prepared soil in the autumn of 1986, and botanical records were made from 1985 to 1999. From 1989 to 1999, three replicates of three treatments: cow-grazing, sheep-grazing and no-grazing were introduced after hay-cutting. Analysis successfully separated the establishment phase from the experimental phase and showed a significant difference between the grazed and ungrazed treatments. Abiotic and biotic factors which might contribute to successional trends are discussed. A convoluted pattern for each treatment could be attributed in part to intrinsic,cycles'of perennial hemicryptophytes behaving as short-lived species and in part to the percentage frequency of many species which was reduced in 1990 and 1995/1996, years of drought. After the initial inoculation of MG4 seed and the disappearance of arable therophytes, recruitment of new species was very slow. Coefficients for Somerford Mead matched against MG4 (Rodwell 1992) produced an equilibrium within three years. It subsequently fluctuated over a 10-yr period well below the level of Oxey Mead, the donor site. Land managers should ensure that their proposed site has the right soils and hydrology for MG4 grassland and that traditional management of hay-cutting and aftermath grazing is practised. Only one cut a year in July could lead to a reduction in percentage frequency of most species except Arrhenatherum elatius. [source]

Bayesian Networks and Adaptive Management of Wildlife Habitat

herramientas para la toma de decisiones; incertidumbre ecológica; pastoreo feral; regímenes de quema; validación de modelos Abstract:,Adaptive management is an iterative process of gathering new knowledge regarding a system's behavior and monitoring the ecological consequences of management actions to improve management decisions. Although the concept originated in the 1970s, it is rarely actively incorporated into ecological restoration. Bayesian networks (BNs) are emerging as efficient ecological decision-support tools well suited to adaptive management, but examples of their application in this capacity are few. We developed a BN within an adaptive-management framework that focuses on managing the effects of feral grazing and prescribed burning regimes on avian diversity within woodlands of subtropical eastern Australia. We constructed the BN with baseline data to predict bird abundance as a function of habitat structure, grazing pressure, and prescribed burning. Results of sensitivity analyses suggested that grazing pressure increased the abundance of aggressive honeyeaters, which in turn had a strong negative effect on small passerines. Management interventions to reduce pressure of feral grazing and prescribed burning were then conducted, after which we collected a second set of field data to test the response of small passerines to these measures. We used these data, which incorporated ecological changes that may have resulted from the management interventions, to validate and update the BN. The network predictions of small passerine abundance under the new habitat and management conditions were very accurate. The updated BN concluded the first iteration of adaptive management and will be used in planning the next round of management interventions. The unique belief-updating feature of BNs provides land managers with the flexibility to predict outcomes and evaluate the effectiveness of management interventions. Resumen:,El manejo adaptativo es un proceso interactivo de recopilación de conocimiento nuevo relacionado con el comportamiento de un sistema y el monitoreo de las consecuencias ecológicas de las acciones de manejo para refinar las opciones de manejo. Aunque el concepto se originó en la década de los 1970s, rara vez es incorporado activamente en la restauración ecológica. Las redes Bayesianas (RBs) están emergiendo como herramientas eficientes para la toma de decisiones ecológicas en el contexto del manejo adaptativo, pero los ejemplos de su aplicación en este sentido son escasos. Desarrollamos una RB en el marco del manejo adaptativo que se centra en el manejo de los efectos del pastoreo feral y los regímenes de quemas prescritas sobre la diversidad de aves en bosques subtropicales del este de Australia. Construimos la RB con datos para predecir la abundancia de aves como una función de la estructura del hábitat, la presión de pastoreo y las quemas prescritas. Los resultados del análisis de sensibilidad sugieren que la presión de pastoreo incrementó la abundancia de melífagos agresivos, que a su vez tuvieron un fuerte efecto negativo sobre paserinos pequeños. Posteriormente se llevaron a cabo intervenciones de manejo para reducir la presión del pastoreo feral y quemas prescritas, después de las cuales recolectamos un segundo conjunto de datos de campo para probar la respuesta de paserinos pequeños a estas medidas. Utilizamos estos datos, que incorporaron cambios ecológicos que pueden haber resultado de la intervención de manejo, para validar y actualizar la RB. Las predicciones de la abundancia de paserinos pequeños bajo las nuevas condiciones de hábitat y manejo fueron muy precisas. La RB actualizada concluyó la primera iteración de manejo adaptativo y será utilizada para la planificación de la siguiente ronda de intervenciones de manejo. La característica única de actualización de la RBs permite que los manejadores tengan flexibilidad para predecir los resultados y evaluar la efectividad de las intervenciones de manejo. [source]

Biotic indirect effects: a neglected concept in invasion biology

Eve M. White
ABSTRACT Indirect effects involve more than two species and are defined as how one species alters the effect that another species has on a third. These complex interactions are often overlooked in studies of interactions between alien and native species, and their role in influencing biological invasions has been rarely considered. Based on a comprehensive review of the invasion biology literature, we examine the evidence for the occurrence of four of the most commonly documented indirect effects (apparent competition, indirect mutualism/commensalism, exploitative competition, and trophic cascades) in the invasion process. Studies investigating indirect effects in the context of invasion biology are relatively rare, but have been increasing in recent years, and there are sufficient examples to indicate that this kind of interaction is likely to be more common than is currently recognized. Whether indirect interactions are mediated by an alien or a native species, and whether they occur between ecologically similar or dissimilar alien and native species, depends in part on the type of interaction considered and no predictable patterns were detected in the literature. Further empirical studies will help to elucidate such patterns. At this stage, the inherent unpredictability of indirect interactions means that their impacts in relation to invasions are particularly challenging for land managers to deal with, and their role in invasions is a complex, but is a valuable area of investigation for researchers. [source]

Geomorphic changes in a complex gully system measured from sequential digital elevation models, and implications for management

Harley D. Betts
Abstract High-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) were derived from sequential aerial photography of an active ,uvio-mass movement (gully) complex in New Zealand's North Island East Coast region, to measure geomorphic changes over approximately one year. The gully showed a complex behaviour, combining ,uvial and mass movement erosion, deposition, and reworking of materials stored in an active debris fan. During the measurement period 5200 ± 1700 m3 of material were eroded from the 8·7 ha gully complex and 670 ± 180 m3 from the 0·8 ha depositional fan, giving a total of 5870 ± 1710 m3 for the entire gully complex,fan system. The results provide a high-resolution description of gully behaviour over a short time period, and also demonstrate that mass movement (slumping and debris ,ows) accounted for almost 90 per cent (4660 ± 200 m3) of the sediment generated. This erosional response is described in terms of gully evolution by comparing the gully complex to other systems in the region in various stages of development. The effect of gully evolution on geomorphic coupling between the gully complex and channel system is described, and coupling is also shown to vary with the magnitude and frequency of rainfall events. From a land management perspective the success of strategies, such as tree planting, to mitigate against gully erosion depends on the stage of gully development , particularly on whether or not mass movement erosion has begun. In contrast to gully rehabilitation efforts elsewhere, basin-wide afforestation in the early stages of gully incision is favoured over riparian planting, given that mass movement assisted by excessive groundwater pressure is the main process leading to uncontrollable gully expansion. To protect land effectively against continuing gully erosion of headwater catchments and resulting downstream aggradation, it is necessary for land managers to understand the spatial and temporal variability of gully development fully so that mitigation efforts can be targeted appropriately. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

A Strategic Framework for Monitoring Coastal Change in Australia's Wet-dry Tropics , Concepts and Progress

Abstract A strategic framework for monitoring natural and human-induced change in the coastal plains of the Alligator Rivers Region in the wet-dry tropics of northern Australia is presented. The framework also supports refinement of methods used to monitor the vulnerability of coastal areas to change, including human-induced climate change and sea-level rise. The information derived through the framework can be used to assess scenarios, highlight the potential significance and implications of changes, and assist land managers formulate management responses. The framework incorporates several large-scale studies for monitoring atmospheric and hydrodynamic processes as well as mapping and monitoring projects specific to environmental change in the freshwater wetlands and the floodplains of the Region. Monitoring is proposed to address processes influencing the stability and rate of change of the floodplain environments. These include large-scale processes, such as inter-annual variability in weather conditions affecting the morphology of the coastal plains, shoreline and riverbank stabilisation, headward expansion of tidal creeks, and salinisation of freshwater basins. Information management is also addressed, and a Geographic Information System structure proposed for effective data collation, analysis and management. The information management system will facilitate data sharing and participation of multiple agencies and organisations interested in coastal change, especially where a landscape perspective or whole ecosystem approach is advocated. [source]

Climate change and plant invasions: restoration opportunities ahead?

Abstract Rather than simply enhancing invasion risk, climate change may also reduce invasive plant competitiveness if conditions become climatically unsuitable. Using bioclimatic envelope modeling, we show that climate change could result in both range expansion and contraction for five widespread and dominant invasive plants in the western United States. Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) and tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) are likely to expand with climate change. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii) are likely to shift in range, leading to both expansion and contraction. Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) is likely to contract. The retreat of once-intractable invasive species could create restoration opportunities across millions of hectares. Identifying and establishing native or novel species in places where invasive species contract will pose a considerable challenge for ecologists and land managers. This challenge must be addressed before other undesirable species invade and eliminate restoration opportunities. [source]

Land Administration in Medieval Japan: Ito no shô in Chikuzen Province, 1131,1336

HISTORY, Issue 289 2003
Judith Fröhlich
The topic of land administration is central in historical studies of medieval Japan, since it provides insight into the social and economic development during the medieval period and highlights the lives of various social groups, courtiers, clerics, warriors and peasants. Based on the case of Ito no shô, an estate in northern Kyushu, this article analyses the establishment of a wide system of land administration under courtiers and central religious institutions during the twelfth century and its decline during the thirteenth century. The concurrent rise of local land managers and their social and economic activities during the thirteenth century are also explored. Finally, an assessment is made of the impact of the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281 on economic and social development during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, in particular the loss of influence of central authorities in regions remote from the capital and the formation of rural communities under the leadership of local warriors. [source]

Go climb a mountain: an application of recreation demand modelling to rock climbing in Scotland

Nick Hanley
In this paper, we apply random utility modelling techniques to rock-climbing in Scotland. Attributes relevant to choices over rock-climbing sites were identified from focus groups with climbers, along with a categorisation of principal climbing areas. A survey of climbers yielded 267 responses, which were then used as the basis for modelling. We compare a standard multi-nominal logit model with a random parameters approach, and look at seasonal differences in behaviour, and at the implications of different treatments of travel time. The random utility models showed that most of the attributes selected were significant determinants of choice. Welfare estimates of changes in site attributes are presented, which are relevant to policy choices currently facing land managers. [source]

Interacting effects of management and environmental variability at multiple scales on invasive species distributions

Jeffrey M. Diez
Summary 1. The distribution and abundance of invasive species can be driven by both environmental variables and land management decisions. However, understanding these relationships can be complicated by interactions between management actions and environmental variability, and differences in scale among these variables. The resulting ,context-dependence' of management actions may be well-appreciated by ecologists and land managers, but can frustrate attempts to apply general management principles. 2. In this study, we quantify the effects of land management and environmental variability at different scales on the occurrence and abundance of Hieracium pilosella, a major agricultural weed in New Zealand. We used a hierarchical study design and analysis to capture relevant scales of variation in management actions and environmental heterogeneity, and test hypotheses about how these factors interact. 3. We show that fertilizing and grazing interact with environmental gradients at the scale of management application (farm paddocks) to influence the establishment and local abundance of H. pilosella. 4. We further show that H. pilosella's relationships with fine-scale abiotic and biotic factors are consistent with expected mechanisms driven by larger-scale management actions. Using data on occurrence and local abundance, we tease apart which factors are important to establishment and subsequent local spread. 5.Synthesis and applications. A major challenge for environmental scientists is to predict how invasive species may respond to ongoing landscape modifications and environmental change. This effort will require approaches to study design and analysis that can accommodate complexities such as interacting management and environmental variables at different scales. Management actions will be more likely to succeed when they explicitly account for variation in environmental context. [source]

Quantifying the grazing impacts associated with different herbivores on rangelands

Summary 1Rangelands, produced by grazing herbivores, are important for a variety of agricultural, hunting, recreation and conservation objectives world-wide. Typically, there is little quantitative evidence regarding the magnitude of the grazing impact of different herbivores on rangeland habitats to inform their management. 2We quantified the grazing and trampling impact of sheep, cattle, red deer Cervus elaphus, rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, mountain hares Lepus timidus and red grouse Lagopus lagopus on open-hill habitats in 11 areas of upland Scotland. The degradation of heather in upland Scotland Calluna vulgaris -dominated habitats, of conservation significance at a European scale, has been attributed, anecdotally, to increasing sheep and red deer populations. 3Field indicators of habitat condition were used to generate a five-point scale of impact in vegetation polygons of seven habitats. The presence of each herbivore species was attributed on the basis of ,signs' of occupancy. A Bayesian regression model was used to analyse the association of herbivore species with grazing impact on plant communities, controlling for environmental attributes. 4Overall the presence of sheep was associated with the largest increase (7/11 areas) in grazing and trampling impact of all herbivores. Cattle had the second largest impact but generally this was restricted to fewer areas and habitats than sheep. In contrast, impacts associated with wild herbivores tended to be small and only significant locally. 5Although red deer presence was associated with a significantly lower impact than sheep, this impact increased with increasing deer density at both land-ownership and regional scales. For sheep there was little or no evidence of density dependence. 6Synthesis and applications. The higher impact associated with sheep presence probably reflects their greater aggregation because of their limited ranging behaviour, exacerbated by sheep being herded in places convenient for land managers. Consequently, future reductions in sheep numbers as a result of reform of European Union farming policies may limit the extent of their impact, but not necessarily the local magnitude. However, reductions in sheep stocks may lead to increases in deer densities, with greater impact, particularly in heather-dominated habitats. Where habitat conservation is a priority this may well require a reduction in deer numbers. [source]

The resilience of calcareous and mesotrophic grasslands following disturbance

Summary 1Understanding habitat disturbance and recovery is vital for successful conservation management and restoration, particularly of subseral communities with high nature conservation interest and sites subject to unavoidable disturbance pressures, such as that arising from access and recreational activities. 2Grassland resilience was investigated on the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) in southern England, the largest of the UK military training areas. SPTA contains the greatest expanse of unimproved chalk grassland in north-west Europe, a habitat of particular nature conservation interest. 3Historical aerial photographs were used to identify 82 calcareous and mesotrophic grassland sites disturbed over a 50-year time period. Vegetation, soils and seed bank data were collected from each old disturbance site. Revegetation time periods following disturbance were compared, and habitat resilience following disturbance investigated using the succession of surface vegetation along the chronosequence, the combined changes of vegetation and soil chemistry, and finally vegetation and seed bank composition. 4The sampled calcareous grasslands were less resilient following disturbance than the mesotrophic grasslands, with slower colonization of bare ground and target species re-assembly. The mesotrophic grasslands typically took between 30 and 40 years to re-establish following disturbance, whereas calcareous grasslands took at least 50 years. 5Even after such long time periods, there remained subtle but significant differences between the vegetation composition of the disturbed and undisturbed swards. Perennial forb species, particularly hemicryptophytes, persisted at higher frequencies in swards disturbed 50 years ago than in undisturbed swards. 6Synthesis and applications. Prediction of habitat resilience following disturbance is dependent on which components of the system are investigated. However, data such as that presented here can help land managers understand how palimpsests of current habitat characteristics may have evolved, and how disturbance regimes may be managed in the future. It is likely that the resilience of grasslands such as those on SPTA may have been overestimated, and perceptions of habitat carrying capacity for disturbance events may require re-evaluation. [source]

Using ants as bioindicators in land management: simplifying assessment of ant community responses

Alan N. Andersen
Summary 1The indicator qualities of terrestrial invertebrates are widely recognized in the context of detecting ecological change associated with human land-use. However, the use of terrestrial invertebrates as bioindicators remains more a topic of scientific discourse than a part of land-management practice, largely because their inordinate numbers, taxonomic challenges and general unfamiliarity make invertebrates too intimidating for most land-management agencies. Terrestrial invertebrates will not be widely adopted as bioindicators in land management until simple and efficient protocols have been developed that meet the needs of land managers. 2In Australia, ants are one group of terrestrial insects that has been commonly adopted as bioindicators in land management, and this study examined the reliability of a simplified ant assessment protocol designed to be within the capacity of a wide range of land managers. 3Ants had previously been surveyed intensively as part of a comprehensive assessment of biodiversity responses to SO2 emissions from a large copper and lead smelter at Mt Isa in the Australian semi-arid tropics. This intensive ant survey yielded 174 species from 24 genera, and revealed seven key patterns of ant community structure and composition in relation to habitat and SO2 levels. 4We tested the extent to which a greatly simplified ant assessment was able to reproduce these results. Our simplified assessment was based on ant ,bycatch' from bucket-sized (20-litre) pitfall traps used to sample vertebrates as part of the broader biodiversity survey. We also greatly simplified the sorting of ant morphospecies by considering only large (using a threshold of 4 mm) species, and we reduced sorting time by considering only the presence or absence of species at each site. In this manner, the inclusion of ants in the assessment process required less than 10% of the effort demanded by the intensive ant survey. 5Our simplified protocol reproduced virtually all the key findings of the intensive survey. This puts effective ant monitoring within the capacity of a wide range of land managers. [source]

Future eating and country keeping: what role has environmental history in the management of biodiversity?

D.M.J.S. Bowman
In order to understand and moderate the effects of the accelerating rate of global environmental change land managers and ecologists must not only think beyond their local environment but also put their problems into a historical context. It is intuitively obvious that historians should be natural allies of ecologists and land managers as they struggle to maintain biodiversity and landscape health. Indeed, ,environmental history' is an emerging field where the previously disparate intellectual traditions of ecology and history intersect to create a new and fundamentally interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Environmental history is rapidly becoming an important field displacing many older environmentally focused academic disciplines as well as capturing the public imagination. By drawing on Australian experience I explore the role of ,environmental history' in managing biodiversity. First I consider some of the similarities and differences of the ecological and historical approaches to the history of the environment. Then I review two central questions in Australian environment history: landscape-scale changes in woody vegetation cover since European settlement and the extinction of the marsupials in both historical and pre-historical time. These case studies demonstrate that environmental historians can reach conflicting interpretations despite using essentially the same data. The popular success of some environmental histories hinges on the fact that they narrate a compelling story concerning human relationships and human value judgements about landscape change. Ecologists must learn to harness the power of environmental history narratives to bolster land management practices designed to conserve biological heritage. They can do this by using various currently popular environmental histories as a point of departure for future research, for instance by testing the veracity of competing interpretations of landscape-scale change in woody vegetation cover. They also need to learn how to write parables that communicate their research findings to land managers and the general public. However, no matter how sociologically or psychologically satisfying a particular environmental historical narrative might be, it must be willing to be superseded with new stories that incorporate the latest research discoveries and that reflects changing social values of nature. It is contrary to a rational and publicly acceptable approach to land management to read a particular story as revealing the absolute truth. [source]

Threshold changes in vegetation along a grazing gradient in Mongolian rangelands

Takehiro Sasaki
Summary 1The concept of threshold has become important in ecology, but the nature of potential threshold responses of vegetation to grazing in rangeland ecosystems remains poorly understood. We aimed to identify ecological thresholds in vegetation changes along a grazing gradient and to examine whether threshold changes were expressed similarly at a variety of ecological sites. 2To accomplish this, we surveyed the vegetation along grazing gradients at 10 ecological sites, each located at different landscape positions in Mongolia's central and southern rangelands. Evidence for a threshold in changes in floristic composition along the grazing gradient was examined by comparing linear models of the data with nonlinear models fitted using an exponential curve, an inverse curve, a piecewise regression and a sigmoid logistic curve. 3Three nonlinear models (piecewise, exponential and sigmoid) provided a much better fit to the data than the linear models, highlighting the presence of a discontinuity in vegetation changes along the grazing gradient. The shapes of the best-fit models and their fit to the data were generally similar across sites, indicating that the changes in floristic composition were relatively constant below a threshold level of grazing, after which the curve changed sharply. 4Except for two sites, the best-fit models had relatively narrow bootstrap confidence intervals (95% CI), especially around threshold points or zones where the rate of change accelerated, emphasizing that our results were robust and conclusive. 5Synthesis. Our study provided strong evidence for the existence of ecological thresholds in vegetation change along a grazing gradient across all ecological sites. This suggests that vegetation responses to grazing in the study areas are essentially nonlinear. The recognition that real threshold changes exist in real grazing gradients will help land managers to prevent the occurrence of undesirable states and promote the occurrence of desirable states, and will therefore permit a major step forward in the sustainable management of rangeland ecosystems. [source]

Use of Synthetic Aperture Radar for Selecting Alaskan Lakes for Winter Water Use,

D.M. White
Abstract:, Water resources are limited in many areas of the North Slope, Alaska, particularly during winter. Water is used by the oil industry for ice road construction and maintenance, drilling and facility operations, and potable water supplies. The coastal plain between Teshekpuk Lake, in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) and the Colville River has numerous shallow lakes, but further south in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range, and east to the Canning River, lakes are fewer. While many oil and gas lease sales have been conducted, or are proposed, access to the leases may be limited because of the lack of available water for ice road construction. Ice roads are the main means by which exploration is conducted in the Arctic, putting a stress on freshwater bodies that do not freeze to the lakebed in winter. Lakes that do not freeze to the lakebed also serve as overwintering habitat for fish. The purpose of this paper is to report on the potential distribution of water bodies that may provide overwinter water in selected areas from Teshekpuk Lake to the Canning River. The project used synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery to search for the presence of water in lakes in March 2006. In the Kuparuk and Canning SAR images, 52 and 61% of lakes were frozen to their beds by March 2006, accounting for 49 and 57% of the lake area in these study regions. Conversely, only 2% of the lakes in the Teshekpuk region were frozen to the bottom by March 2006. Unfrozen water was more available because of deeper and more numerous lakes in the Teshekpuk Lake region (west) than in the Canning River area (east). While only specific SAR tiles were analyzed herein, the method will be a useful tool for land managers who seek to evaluate the potential for ice road construction across the Arctic. [source]

Integrating local and scientific knowledge for adaptation to land degradation: Kalahari rangeland management options

M. S. Reed
Abstract Despite numerous assessments of the sensitivity and resilience of drylands to degradation, there has been little research into the way affected communities innovate and adapt in response to land degradation. This paper shows how local and scientific knowledge can be combined to identify rangeland management strategies to reduce or adapt to land degradation. To achieve this, we have developed and applied a four-stage social learning approach based on stakeholder participation in three degradation ,hotspots' in communal rangelands of the Kalahari, Botswana. This approach aims to collate, evaluate and apply both scientific and local knowledge on rangeland degradation and management options. First, current practice and possible management options were identified from the literature. Second, a series of semi-structured interviews with rangeland users identified local knowledge of strategies to reduce and adapt to land degradation. Third, these options were discussed and evaluated with rangeland stakeholders in focus groups held across each study region. Finally, the outputs from these focus groups were used to produce rangeland assessment guides for each region that provided management options agreed to be locally relevant by both researchers and local stakeholders. The study found that the majority of strategies reported in the literature were not suitable for use by pastoralists in the Kalahari. However, many of the strategies suggested by stakeholders could only be applied effectively under common property regimes, giving impetus to the growing literature encouraging institutional reform to strengthen common property management regimes. The research stimulated a social learning process that combined knowledge from local stakeholders (both pastoralists and extension workers) with the scientific knowledge of researchers to provide a range of management options that could help land managers reduce or adapt to land degradation. By combining participatory research with insights from scientific literature in this way, more relevant results were provided than either approach could have achieved alone. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Up against the edge: invasive species as testbeds for basic questions about evolution in heterogeneous environments

Yogi Berra is often credited, with having opined that ,prediction is very difficult, especially about the future'. There is no discipline for which this statement holds with more force than invasion biology, where it has been historically very challenging to predict the fate of introduced species (Williamson 2006). Some species after introduction quickly go extinct. Other relatively similar species may persist, but with little spread from their initial beachheads. Yet others can become aggressive invaders, with devastating consequences for native communities and ecosystems. This lack of predictability may of course sometimes reflect a simple lack of knowledge, both about key features of a species' basic biology, and about the environmental and community milieu in which invasion occurs (Williamson 2006). However, unpredictability may also arise from a fundamental fact about populations of living organisms , they almost always contain genetic variation, and so are not fixed entities responding to an environmental template, but instead labile in how they cope with the environment, over many spatial and temporal scales. Chance vicissitudes in the origination, maintenance and spatial organization of genetic variation could play a large role in generating the observed unpredictability in the fates of introduced species. The degree to which a particular introduced species becomes ,invasive', to the extent of coming to the attention of worried land managers, governmental officials and the public , may reflect in part its capacity for adaptive evolution across a wide range of environmental conditions. [source]

Combating drought through preparedness

Donald A. Wilhite
Drought is a complex, slow,onset phenomenon that affects more people than any other natural hazard and results in serious economic, social, and environmental impacts. Although drought affects virtually all climatic regimes and has significant consequences in both developed and developing countries, its impacts are especially serious in developing countries where dryland agriculture predominates. The impacts of drought are often an indicator of unsustainable land and water management practices, and drought assistance or relief provided by governments and donors encourages land managers and others to continue these practices. This often results in a greater dependence on government and a decline in self,reliance. Moving from crisis to risk management will require the adoption of a new paradigm for land managers, governments, international and regional development organizations, and non,governmental organizations. This approach emphasizes preparedness, mitigation, and improved early warning systems (EWS) over emergency response and assistance measures. Article 10 of the Convention to Combat Desertification states that national action programmes should be established to identify the factors contributing to desertification and practical measures necessary to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. In the past 10 years, there has been considerable recognition by governments of the need to develop drought preparedness plans and policies to reduce the impacts of drought. Unfortunately, progress in drought preparedness during the last decade has been slow because most nations lack the institutional capacity and human and financial resources necessary to develop comprehensive drought plans and policies. Recent commitments by governments and international organizations and new drought monitoring technologies and planning and mitigation methodologies are cause for optimism. The challenge is the implementation of these new technologies and methodologies. It is critical for governments that possess this experience to share it with others through regional and global networks. One way to accomplish this goal is to create a network of regional networks on drought preparedness to expedite the adoption of drought preparedness tools to lessen the hardships associated with severe and extended drought episodes. [source]

Market Perceptions and Opportunities for Native Plant Production on the Southern Colorado Plateau

Donna L. Peppin
Increases in revegetation activities have created a large demand for locally adapted native plant materials (NPM) in the southwestern United States. Currently, there is a minimal supply of local genotypes to meet this demand. We investigated the potential for the initiation of a native plant market in the southern Colorado Plateau. Through a literature search, interviews, and site visits, we identified existing native plant markets outside of the region as useful models to help initiate a regional market. We used web-based surveys to identify and analyze current and future NPM needs and concerns. Survey results indicate that management policy strongly drives decisions regarding the use and purchase of NPM. From a demand perspective , lack of availability and cost of NPM has kept purchasing minimal, despite policy changes favoring the use of natives. For suppliers, further development of NPM is limited by inconsistent and unreliable demand and lack of production knowledge. The knowledge and tools necessary to initiate an NPM market are available, but inadequate funding sources and insufficient information sharing hinder its development. Communication among producers, land managers, buyers, and researchers, as well as partnerships with local growers, appear to be vital to initiating a functional market. [source]

Origin, diversification and conservation status of talus snails in the Pinaleño Mountains: a conservation biogeographic study

K. F. Weaver
Abstract For many taxa, determining conservation status and priority is impeded by lack of adequate taxonomic and range data. For these problematic groups, we propose combining molecular techniques with careful geographic sampling to evaluate the validity, extent and phylogenetic relatedness of the proposed units of diversity. We employed such a strategy to document monophyletic lineages, range extents and phylogenetic relatedness for talus snails (genus Sonorella) in the Pinaleño Mountains of Arizona, an isolated range that has the most vertical relief of any of the sky islands in Arizona. Three of the four species found in the Pinaleño Mountains have been considered candidate species for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Further, one of these taxa, Sonorella macrophallus, is of particular concern and was protected under an USFS conservation agreement until 2004, due to its presumed endemicity to a narrow portion of one canyon. We collected a large dataset of 12S and COI mitochondrial DNA, and subsamples of reproductive morphology from specimens collected throughout the Pinaleños and from adjacent ranges (e.g. the Huachucas, Chiricahuas and Santa Catalinas). We generated a phylogeny based on the mitochondrial data, and matched clades with named species utilizing reproductive morphology. Our results show that both S. macrophallus and Sonorella imitator are relatively widespread across the Pinaleños while Sonorella grahamensis and Sonorella christenseni are restricted to very small areas. These results dramatically change our previous knowledge about range extents, especially for S. macrophallus. Given these results, land managers may need to reassess the status of all four Sonorella species. Finally, all Sonorella species from the Pinaleños are more closely related to each other than to other taxa on other ranges. This result strongly suggests that diversification of the four Sonorella species in the Pinaleños occurred in situ. [source]

The big ecological questions inhibiting effective environmental management in Australia

Abstract The need to improve environmental management in Australia is urgent because human health, well-being and social stability all depend ultimately on maintenance of life-supporting ecological processes. Ecological science can inform this effort, but when issues are socially and economically complex the inclination is to wait for science to provide answers before acting. Increasingly, managers and policy-makers will be called on to use the present state of scientific knowledge to supply reasonable inferences for action based on imperfect knowledge. Hence, one challenge is to use existing ecological knowledge more effectively; a second is to tackle the critical unanswered ecological questions. This paper identifies areas of environmental management that are profoundly hindered by an inability of science to answer basic questions, in contrast to those areas where knowledge is not the major barrier to policy development and management. Of the 22 big questions identified herein, more than half are directly related to climate change. Several of the questions concern our limited understanding of the dynamics of marine systems. There is enough information already available to develop effective policy and management to address several significant ecological issues. We urge ecologists to make better use of existing knowledge in dialogue with policy-makers and land managers. Because the challenges are enormous, ecologists will increasingly be engaging a wide range of other disciplines to help identify pathways towards a sustainable future. [source]

Beyond Reserves: A Research Agenda for Conserving Biodiversity in Human-modified Tropical Landscapes

BIOTROPICA, Issue 2 2009
Robin L. Chazdon
ABSTRACT To truly understand the current status of tropical diversity and to forecast future trends, we need to increase emphasis on the study of biodiversity in rural landscapes that are actively managed or modified by people. We present an integrated landscape approach to promote research in human-modified landscapes that includes the effects of landscape structure and dynamics on conservation of biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services, and sustainability of rural livelihoods. We propose research priorities encompassing three major areas: biodiversity, human,environment interactions, and restoration ecology. We highlight key areas where we lack knowledge and where additional understanding is most urgent for promoting conservation and sustaining rural livelihoods. Finally, we recommend participatory and multidisciplinary approaches in research and management. Lasting conservation efforts demand new alliances among conservation biologists, agroecologists, agronomists, farmers, indigenous peoples, rural social movements, foresters, social scientists, and land managers to collaborate in research, co-design conservation programs and policies, and manage human-modified landscapes in ways that enhance biodiversity conservation and promote sustainable livelihoods. [source]