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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: A state-and-transition approach to evaluating trade-offs among ecosystem services)

item Ritten, J
item Fermandez-gimenez, Maria
item Kachergis, Emily
item Pritchett, James

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2011
Publication Date: 1/31/2012
Citation: Ritten, J., Fermandez-Gimenez, M., Kachergis, E.J., Pritchett, J. 2012. A state-and-transition approach to evaluating trade-offs among ecosystem services. 65th Annl Society for Range Management mtng. January 28-February 3. Spokane, WA. p. 0279.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: We developed a linked ecological and economic state-and-transition model (STM) to help managers understand the effects of economic decisions on land health, ecosystem services, and ranch viability and profitability. Parameterized for the Elkhead Watershed in Northern Colorado, our STM model was developed using both ecological data and local knowledge. States and transition probabilities were incorporated into a Stochastic Dynamic Programming (SDP) model to determine optimal cattle management decisions that maximize an infinite stream of returns to a "representative" ranch in the watershed. Management options include stocking decisions, spraying, and haying operations while stochastic variables include precipitation and wildfire. The model was also solved with constraints on minimum levels of ecosystem services. Results showed that both current ecological states and economic conditions impact optimal behavior. Management decisions are altered by accounting for impacts on ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat, plant diversity and soil erosion potential. For our study area, some ecosystem services are in direct conflict with each other, requiring land managers to choose which service(s) are most important to maintain.

Last Modified: 8/24/2016
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