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Ecosystems - Terrestrial, Freshwater, and Marine Ecosystems Program

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About Program

Our Research Goals

The Terrestrial, Freshwater, and Marine Environments Program has five overarching goals that provide context for the science activities it supports:

1. To quantify and understand factors influencing patterns of temporal and spatial variability in key ecosystem components:

  • Increase the understanding of the linkages between wetlands, rivers, lakes, and surrounding landscapes,
  • Quantify the role of scaling in understanding and managing the spatial and temporal responses of biological systems to global change, and
  • Increase understanding of coral reef ecosystem and coastal and estuarine environment.

2. To model factors controlling ecosystem patterns at various scales and develop decision support systems which integrate this information with management options:

  • Develop and test management options for adapting to the effects of global change and minimizing undesired effects of global change, and
  • Incorporate human dimensions (social and economic data) information into decision support and expert systems for management and conservation.

3. To develop indexes of ecosystem sensitivity to change and vulnerability to potential stressors, and tools to predict ecosystem responses to environmental change:

  • Determine relative sensitivity of biological resources and geographic areas of the nation to global changes in order to detect early changes and prioritize response actions.

4. To devise a restoration and adaptive management framework for impaired ecosystems:

  • Improve the scientific basis for wetlands rehabilitation and restoration,
  • Improve methods for post fire rehabilitation, and
  • Develop a USGS fire ecology research and management assistance plan.

5. To identify research areas representative of U.S. ecosystems and initiate a research reference site network:

  • Develop strategy to designate and begin characterizing Index Sites representatives of the nation's ecosystems, and
  • Select prototype sites with an initial focus on Department of the Interior lands.


Other Program Documents

Preview of Our Changing Planet: The U.S. Climate Change Science Program for Fiscal Year 2008

Preview of Our Changing Planet publication coverAbstract: Climate plays an important role in shaping the environment, natural resources, infrastructure, economy, and
other aspects of life in all countries of the world. Therefore, variations and changes in climate can have substantial
environmental and socioeconomic implications.


Western Mountain Initiative (WMI), Program Report 2006 (338 KB, PDF)

Western Mountain Initiative

Abstract: The objective of the Western Mountain Initiative (WMI) is to understand and predict the responses - emphasizing
sensitivities, thresholds, resistance, and resilience - of Western mountain ecosystems to climatic variability and change.



MRI Newsletter 10: The Western Mountain Initiative (WMI) (.PDF)

MRI newsletter

The Western Mountain Initiative (WMI) of the US Geological Survey (USGS) studies global change in the mountains of the
American West. This MRI Newsletter describes the functioning and the specialties of this Initiative, which we advance as
an excellent example of scientific collaboration. MRI talked with two of WMI’s principal investigators: Jill Baron, a USGS
scientist and Senior Research Ecologist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University,
and Dave Peterson, Senior Scientist with the USDA Forest Service at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Seattle.
For the second part of the article they joined us in a discussion about the key leverage points in developing adaptation
strategies to deal with global change in mountains.  Access the Newsletter >




Preliminary review of adaptation options for climate-sensitive ecosystems and resources Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.4

sap4-4-final-report-cover CCSP, 2008: Preliminary review of adaptation options for climate-sensitive ecosystems and resources. A Report by the
U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. [Julius, S.H., J.M. West (eds.),
J.S. Baron, L.A. Joyce, P. Kareiva, B.D. Keller, M.A. Palmer, C.H. Peterson, and J.M. Scott (Authors)]. U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA, 873 pp.





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