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Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Emerging technological and cultural shifts advancing drylands research and management

Author
item Browning, Dawn
item Rango, Albert
item Karl, Jason
item LANEY, CHRISTINE - University Of Texas - El Paso
item VIVONI, ENRIQUE - Arizona State University
item TWEEDIE, CRAIG - University Of Texas - El Paso

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/2014
Publication Date: 2/2/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/60336
Citation: Browning, D.M., Rango, A., Karl, J.W., Laney, C., Vivoni, E., Tweedie, C. 2015. Emerging technological and cultural shifts advancing drylands research and management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 13:52-60.

Interpretive Summary: Many challenges exist for advancing scientific understanding and improving management practices in dryland landscapes to ensure sustained provisioning of ecosystem services. A paradigm shift in dryland research is occurring, where landscape-scale examination of properties and processes via functional indicators complements a historical focus on ecosystem structure and function at small-plot scales. Development and implementation of new technologies – including instrumentation, sensor platforms, and software analytical tools – is catalyzing this paradigm shift. Better integration of research and management of dryland landscapes will require improved access to large volumes of different types of data and information and must be motivated by policy and strategic decision making. This contribution was written with land managers and decision makers (federal, state, and private) in mind to broaden awareness of cutting edge technologies for the most effective use of limited resources.

Technical Abstract: Sustainable provisioning of ecosystem services in dryland landscapes is complicated by extreme conditions that constrain biological responses to perturbation, vast spatial and temporal complexity, and uncertainty regarding the resilience of these ecosystems to management practices and climate change. For these reasons, traditional approaches to data collection, management, and analysis require innovation for monitoring and assessment. The traditional research paradigm for dryland landscapes relied on spatially-distributed plots sampled through time. An emerging research paradigm is typified by multi-investigator studies occurring across many sites, spatial and temporal scales, and biological levels of organization with novel applications of existing technologies and implementation of new analytical techniques. To better integrate research and management of dryland landscapes we require improved access to large volumes of different types of data, systems for identifying and sharing ecologically relevant data, and improved systems for data dissemination and synthesis to broaden public understanding of pressing issues in dryland ecosystems.