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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS Title: Approaches to predicting broad-scale regime shifts using changing pattern-process relationships across scales

Authors
item Peters, Debra
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon
item Knapp, Alan - COLORADO STATE UNIV
item Herrick, Jeffrey
item Monger, H. Curtis - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV
item Havstad, Kris

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2008
Publication Date: January 5, 2009
Citation: Peters, D.C., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Knapp, A.K., Herrick, J.E., Monger, H., Havstad, K.M. 2009. Approaches to predicting broad-scale regime shifts using changing pattern-process relationships across scales. In: Miao, S., Carstenn, S., Nungesser, M. editors. Real World Ecology: Large-Scale and Long-Term Case Studies and Methods. New York: Springer. p. 47-72.

Interpretive Summary: Experimental and analytical methods to examine state changes, such as from perennial grasslands to woodlands, have not been fully developed. We first define and describe the expansion of woody plants into perennial grasslands. We then outline a multi-scale experimental approach to examining the key processes influencing woody plant encroachment from fine to broad scales, and describe the application of this approach to the Jornada Basin Agricultural Research Service-Long Term Ecological Research site as a case study. Several questions can be addressed with this approach, such as: how and under what conditions do dynamics and decisions made at fine scales influence dynamics at broader scales? How and under what conditions do broad-scale dynamics overwhelm fine-scale processes to influence landscape patterns? Finally, we discuss analytical techniques for predicting regime shifts and their associated thresholds.

Technical Abstract: Understanding and predicting the occurrence of alternative ecosystem states (i.e., regime shifts) at broad scales is a pressing challenge for ecologists given the scope and nature of global change. In many cases, regime shifts at broad-scales are affected by pattern-process relationships across a range of finer scales. However, experimental and analytical methods to examine state changes, such as from perennial grasslands to woodlands, have not been fully developed. We first define and describe the expansion of woody plants into perennial grasslands. Woody plant encroachment has well-documented consequences for local, regional, and global ecology, and takes several forms, from shrub invasion in arid/semiarid grasslands and arctic ecosystems to tree invasion in mesic and alpine grasslands. We then outline a multi-scale experimental approach to examining the key processes influencing woody plant encroachment from fine to broad scales, and describe the application of this approach to the Jornada Basin Agricultural Research Service-Long Term Ecological Research site as a case study. Several questions can be addressed with this approach, such as: how and under what conditions do dynamics and decisions made at fine scales influence dynamics at broader scales? How and under what conditions do broad-scale dynamics overwhelm fine-scale processes to influence landscape patterns? Finally, we discuss analytical techniques for predicting regime shifts and their associated thresholds.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014