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Amy J. Symstad

Wind Cave National Park (WICA) protects one of the world’s longest caves, has large amounts of high quality, native vegetation, and hosts a genetically important bison herd. The park’s relatively small size and unique purpose within its landscape requires hands-on management of these and other natural resources, all of which are interconnected. Anthropogenic climate change presents an added challenge to WICA natural resource management because it is characterized by large uncertainties, many of which are beyond the control of park and National Park Service (NPS) staff. When uncertainty is high and control of this uncertainty low, scenario planning is an appropriate tool for determining future actions. In 2009, members...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
Karst aquifers—formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone—are critical groundwater resources in North America, and karst springs, caves, and streams provide habitat for unique flora and fauna. Springflow and groundwater levels in karst terrane can change greatly over short time scales, and therefore are likely to respond rapidly to climate change. How might the biological communities and ecosystems associated with karst respond to climate change and accompanying changes in groundwater levels and springflow? Sites in two central U.S. regions—the Balcones Escarpment of south-central Texas and the Black Hills of western South Dakota (fig. 1)—were selected to study climate change and its potential...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Fact Sheet
Indicators of rangeland health generally do not include a measure of biodiversity. Increasing attention to maintaining biodiversity in rangelands suggests that this omission should be reconsidered, and plant species richness and diversity are two metrics that may be useful and appropriate. Ideally, their response to a variety of anthropogenic and natural drivers in the ecosystem of interest would be clearly understood, thereby providing a means to diagnose the cause of decline in an ecosystem. Conceptual ecological models based on ecological principles and hypotheses provide a framework for this understanding, but these models must be supported by empirical evidence if they are to be used for decision making. To...
Grass identification is not for the faint of heart, especially when one has to rely on dichotomous keys using terms like “glume” and “flexuous pedicels.” A good, illustrated field guide that avoids such specialized terms is invaluable for ranchers, amateur naturalists, landscapers, and a variety of grassland professionals that aren’t hard-core botanists. These are the audience that Iralee Barnard targets, and none of them will have any trouble using this handy volume that is short on words but generous with full-color photographs. Review info: Field Guide to the Common Grasses of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. By Iralee Barnard, 2014. ISBN: 978-0700619450, 264 pp.
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Prairie Naturalist
The United States Northern Great Plains (NGP) has a high potential for landscape-scale conservation, but this grassland landscape is threatened by encroachment of woody species. We surveyed NGP land managers to identify patterns in, and illustrate a broad range of, individual managers' perceptions on (1) the threat of woody encroachment to grasslands they manage, and (2) what management practices they use that may influence woody encroachment in this region. In the 34 surveys returned, which came from predominantly public lands in the study area, 79% of responses reported moderate or substantial woody encroachment. Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) were the...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Natural Areas Journal
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