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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Recommendations for development of resilience-based state-and-transition models

Authors
item Briske, David - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon
item Stringham, Tamzen - OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
item Shaver, Patrick - NRCS

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 15, 2008
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
Citation: Briske, D.D., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Stringham, T.K., Shaver, P.L. 2008. Recommendations for development of resilience-based state-and-transition models. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 61:359-367.

Interpretive Summary: The objective of this paper is to recommend conceptual modifications for incorporation into the state-and-transition model (STM) framework to: 1) explicitly link this framework to the concept of ecological resilience, 2) direct management attention away from thresholds and toward the maintenance of state resilience, and 3) enhance the ability of STMs to capture a broader set of relevant ecological information to support ecosystem management. Three STMs representing unique ecological conditions and geographic locations are presented to illustrate the incorporation and application of these recommendations.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this paper is to recommend conceptual modifications for incorporation into the state-and-transition model (STM) framework to: 1) explicitly link this framework to the concept of ecological resilience, 2) direct management attention away from thresholds and toward the maintenance of state resilience, and 3) enhance the ability of STMs to capture a broader set of relevant ecological information to support ecosystem management. Ecological resilience describes the amount of change or disruption that is required to transform a system from being maintained by one set of mutually reinforcing processes and structures to a different set of processes and structures (e.g., alternative stable state). Effective ecosystem management must focus on the adoption of management practices and policies that maintain or enhance ecological resilience to prevent stable states from exceeding potential thresholds. In this context, resilience management does not focus on thresholds per se, but rather on within-state dynamics that influence resilience and state proximity and vulnerability to thresholds. Resilience-based ecosystem management provides greater opportunities to incorporate adaptive management than does threshold-based management because thresholds specifically define the limits of state resilience, rather than the conditions that determine the likelihood that these limits will be surpassed. We recommend that the STM framework incorporate triggers, at-risk communities, feedback mechanisms, and restoration pathways and develop process-specific indicators that enable managers to identify at-risk plant communities and potential restoration pathways. Three STMs representing unique ecological conditions and geographic locations are presented to illustrate the incorporation and application of these recommendations. We anticipate that these conceptual modifications will enhance the ability of the STM framework to more efficiently capture and convey ecological information supporting ecosystem management to a broader range of stake holders and special interest groups.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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