Submitted to: Society of Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2005
Publication Date: 2/5/2005
Citation: Brown, J.R., Bestelmeyer, B.T. 2005. Research needs; making vegetation dynamics a basis for vegetation management. Society for Range Management 58th Annual Meeting and Trade Show, February 5-11, 2005, Fort Worth, Texas. p. 194. Interpretive Summary: No interpretive summary required.
Technical Abstract: The 1994 SRM Research Needs Symposium identified three important developments for vegetation science in the coming decade: 1) improved understanding of nonequilibrium dynamics, 2) new strategies for halting degradation and 3) sustainable restoration strategies. There has been remarkable progress toward achieving these goals in the last 10 years. However, continued progress in increasing the relevance of vegetation science to land management will require more than just broader application of existing techniques and principles. We suggest that the pursuit of four new objectives is critical. First, applications of nonequilibrium theory must turn from explaining observations to providing realistic predictions. Our understanding is sufficiently well-developed to go beyond retrospective explanations to predictive principles and tools, within the constraints of uncertaintly. Second, the concepts of vegetation resistance and resilience must be applied at multiple scales, both spatially and temporally to provide a context for land management decisions. Plant communities, landscapes and regions vary tremendously in their general rates and magnitudes of change and recovery. Third, rangeland vegetation science must expand to include dynamic soil:plant relationships as a means of improving predictions and providing a basis for extending research to real-world situations. Many sites in arid and semi- arid areas will not recover in management timeframes and effective land management requires principles to differentiate and set priorities. Finally, vegetation scientists must transcend traditional research:application boundaries to integrate vegetation science into policies and programs that guide land management. Regardless of the extent or precision of knowledge, without clear links to decision-making, it is irrelevant.