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Shrub encroachment in arid and semiarid rangelands, a worldwide phenomenon, results in a heterogeneous landscape characterized by a mosaic of nutrient-depleted barren soil bordered by nutrient-enriched shrubby areas known as “fertile islands.� Even though shrub encroachment is considered as a major contributor to rangeland degradation, little is known about mechanisms favoring the reversibility of the early stages of this process. Here we synthesize the interactions between fires and soil erosion processes, and the implications of these interactions for management of rangelands. The burning of shrub vegetation develops relatively high levels of soil hydrophobicity. This fire-induced water repellency was shown...
State-and-transition models are increasingly being used to guide rangeland management. These models provide a relatively simple, management-oriented way to classify land condition (state) and to describe the factors that might cause a shift to another state (a transition). There are many formulations of state-and-transition models in the literature. The version we endorse does not adhere to any particular generalities about ecosystem dynamics, but it includes consideration of several kinds of dynamics and management response to them. In contrast to previous uses of state-and-transition models, we propose that models can, at present, be most effectively used to specify and qualitatively compare the relative benefits...
Many biological, hydrological, and geological processes are interactively linked in ecosystems. These ecological phenomena normally vary within bounded ranges, but rapid, nonlinear changes to markedly different conditions can be triggered by even small differences if threshold values are exceeded. Intrinsic and extrinsic ecological thresholds can lead to effects that cascade among systems, precluding accurate modeling and prediction of system response to climate change. Ten case studies from North America illustrate how changes in climate can lead to rapid, threshold-type responses within ecological communities; the case studies also highlight the role of human activities that alter the rate or direction of system...
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Conclusions: The amount of upstream impervious area affects downstream fish habitat quality, channel stability, and water quality. The use of riparian buffers can reduce the magnitude of urban impacts, however, they cannot fully mitigate the impacts of upstream development in the watershed. Threshold percentages of impervious areas , as well as the percentage of forest cover in a watershed appear to be the most effective indicators of watershed health. Thresholds/Learnings: Impervious areas should be kept at or below 10% of a watershed, and forest cover should be maintained at a minimum of 65% in order to effectively mitigate the impacts of urbanization and development on watersheds. Synopsis: This paper articulates...
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Historical and projected climate data point toward significant changes in the future for the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. These changes will include impacts to many species (like birds, fish, and mammals), ecosystems (like forests), and natural resources (like water) that humans appreciate and rely on. In order to prepare for these changes, land and resource managers need to be able to predict how species will respond, what specific mechanisms are driving these changes, and what thresholds wildlife species may soon be pushed across. Crossing these thresholds could lead to rapid change or decline in the health of a wildlife population. In response to this need, a team of researchers is working to identify the...
Despite the fact that arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations are among the most ancient, abundant and important symbioses in terrestrial ecosystems, there are currently few unifying theories that can be used to help understand the factors that control their structure and function. This review explores how a stoichiometric perspective facilitates integration of three complementary ecological and evolutionary models of mycorrhizal structure and function. AM symbiotic function should be governed by the relative availability of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus (trade balance model) and allocation to plant and fungal structures should depend on the availabilities of these resources (functional equilibrium model). Moreover,...
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We evaluated the potential for restoring riparian grass and sedge meadows currently dominated by Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata with an experiment in which we burned sites with low, intermediate, and high water tables, i.e., dry, intermediate, and wet sites. To define the alternative states and thresholds for these ecosystems, we examined burning and water table effects on both abiotic variables and establishment of grasses adapted to relatively high (Poa se-cunda ssp. juncifolia), intermediate (Leymus triticoides), or low (L. cinereus) water tables. Wet sites had lower soil temperatures and higher soil water contents than dry sites. Burning increased soil temperatures on all sites. Undershrub microsites on...
Science is frequently touted as the solution to dryland management problems, yet most management decisions are, by necessity, based primarily on expert knowledge and experience. This paper describes an integrated framework for organizing, synthesizing, and applying our growing understanding of aridland ecosystems using a flexible, multi-objective assessment, monitoring, and management approach. The framework is dual-purpose: (1) to coordinate the use of existing tools, resources, and diffuse knowledge, and (2) to facilitate the integration and application of new knowledge as it is developed. In particular, this framework must facilitate the integration of new knowledge about linkages among landscape units across...


    map background search result map search result map Restoring riparian meadows currently dominated by Artemisia using alternative state concepts - the establishment component Urbanization of aquatic systems: degradation thresholds, stormwater detection, and the limits of mitigation. Examining the Responses of Species to Climate Change: Will Wildlife Face Biological Thresholds? Urbanization of aquatic systems: degradation thresholds, stormwater detection, and the limits of mitigation. Restoring riparian meadows currently dominated by Artemisia using alternative state concepts - the establishment component Examining the Responses of Species to Climate Change: Will Wildlife Face Biological Thresholds?