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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Comprehending Complexity Together with the Public: Practical Strategies for Improving Rangeland Conservation, Restoration and Management

Authors
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon
item Mccarthy, Patrick - THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
item Bestelmeyer, Stephanie - CHI. DESERT NATURE PARK
item Havstad, Kris
item Melgoza, Alicia - INIFAP MEXICO
item Tugel, Arlene - USDA-NRCS

Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2002
Publication Date: August 4, 2002
Citation: HERRICK, J.E., BESTELMEYER, B.T., MCCARTHY, P., BESTELMEYER, S., HAVSTAD, K.M., MELGOZA, A., TUGEL, A. COMPREHENDING COMPLEXITY TOGETHER WITH THE PUBLIC: PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING RANGELAND CONSERVATION, RESTORATION AND MANAGEMENT. 87TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA. 2002. ABSTRACT P. 25.

Technical Abstract: Rangeland ecosystems are complex, particularly when soil and climate are considered. Complexity is viewed as a liability when dealing with the public and scientific uncertainty often leads to uncertainties about the usefulness of science. Basic research is needed to reduce scientific uncertainties about the probable consequences of human intervention in arid and semiarid environments. Research is also needed to develop tools that can be used to more effectively communicate our evolving understanding. We will describe four successful approaches that illustrate how indicators and conceptual models based on basic research are being used to increase appreciation of ecological complexity, reduce environmental conflicts, and improve rangeland management: (1) monitoring and assessment workshops for ranchers, environmentalists and government agency personnel in the U.S. and Mexico, (2) development of ecological state and transition models, (3) implementation of integrated soil and vegetation management and monitoring plans, and (4) introduction of school children to ecological and experimental design concepts. All four of these approaches use indicators of basic ecosystem functions to help individuals and organizations with diverse goals and logistical constraints to understand and apply concepts including soil-vegetation feedbacks and ecological thresholds. Conceptual state and transition models are used to help explain how human management of fire, livestock and wildlife grazing and invasive species can have diverse effects on vegetation dynamics.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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