Submitted to: Society for Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 22, 2011
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The rangeland science profession in the United States has its roots in the widespread overgrazing and concurrent severe droughts of the late 19th Century. These drivers contributed to rangeland resource degradation especially in the American Southwest. Experimental stations like those established early in the 1900s in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico rose up out of a real need to address this degradation. Logical for the time, the 20th century scientific activities at these and other locals, and the resulting policies, were based on reductionist experimentation and productionist emphases on food and fiber. After a century of science and policy there are two additional perspectives that shape our vision for the scientific emphases of the future. First, rangeland landscapes are extremely heterogeneous; general principles derived from scientific experimentation cannot be easily, or generally, applied without adjusting to the distinct societal and ecological characteristics of a location. Principles and policies need to be contextualized to their landscapes. Second, rangeland management occurs at spatial scales considerably larger than those that have been addressed in range science. Scaling up science results is not a simple, additive process. The leading features of the emerging science are (1) research at landscape scales and (2) over longer time spans at these spatial scales, that (3) approaches conservation practices as treatments requiring scientific evaluation, (4) incorporates local knowledge, (5) is explicitly applied in nature, and (6) is transparent in its practice. We strongly argue for a science that supports resource management by testing hypotheses relevant to actual conservation practices. This will require applying the scientific method in a postmodern fashion where management is an integral part of hypotheses.