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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Understanding Snow and Hydrologic Processes in Mountainous Terrain with a Changing Climate

Location: Northwest Watershed Management Research

Title: Ecohydrologic connections and complexities in drylands: New perspectives for understanding transformative landscape change

Authors
item Wilcox, B -
item Seyfried, Mark
item Breshears, D -
item Mcdonnell, J -

Submitted to: Ecohydrology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 3, 2012
Publication Date: April 2, 2012
Citation: Wilcox, B.P., Seyfried, M.S., Breshears, D.D., Mcdonnell, J.J. 2012. Ecohydrologic connections and complexities in drylands: New perspectives for understanding transformative landscape change. Ecohydrology. 5:143-144.

Interpretive Summary: Complex changes are occurring in drylands across the globe—desertification, woody plant encroachment, altered fire regimes, large-scale tree die-offs and invasion by nonnative species. Changes of this kind and magnitude are transformative for ecosystem processes. Such changes are being driven by the dual global change drivers of intensifying land use and climate change (Wilcox et al., 2011). They are expected to only accelerate in the future. Because transformative landscape change is so complex, its course is often difficult to predict. Devising informed management strategies for dealing with its effects will be a critical priority for ecohydrologists in the coming decades (Wilcox, 2010). Sun Valley, Idaho, was the setting for an October 2009 AGU Chapman conference, Ecohydrological Feedbacks of Landscape Change Along Elevation Gradients in Semiarid Regions, convened to advance the understanding of ecohydrologic connections and complexities in drylands. The series of articles in this special issue are a direct result of that conference. One unique aspect is that these articles do not consist simply of information presented at the meeting; rather, each is a product of collaborative work initiated during the conference and continuing for up to 2 years thereafter. It is noteworthy that the teams of coauthors include many young scientists just beginning to make their mark in the field of ecohydrology. In addition, these teams are inherently interdisciplinary—integrating both hydrological and ecological perspectives—an approach that we think is particularly powerful and that reinforces the idea that ecohydrology encompasses more than either of the parent disciplines alone. As a result, each article provides a fresh and synthetic perspective on transformative landscape change.

Technical Abstract: This series of articles not only represents a testimonial to the rapid progression of ecohydrology as a field but also reinforces the potential for new insights through targeted interdisciplinary collaboration. Within this issue, readers will find new insights and hypotheses, the testing of which can serve as a roadmap for future research. As a whole, these articles highlight the need for ongoing interdisciplinary work and demonstrate that ecohydrology is well poised to advance substantially our understanding of transformative landscape change and its many implications.

Last Modified: 11/1/2014
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