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In a Restoration Ecology paper, early-career restoration scientists provide promising areas of research that are aligned with UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration goals and can serve as a road map for those embarking on ecological restoration careers.

Rapid climate and land use change, increased ecological extremes, and human disturbance on the Colorado Plateau in the southwest US are creating new, significant challenges for land managers, policymakers, and local and Tribal communities. These conditions highlight a need for intensified research efforts that inform restoration in order to outpace the rate of change. 

A graphic showing Restoration outcomes on the Colorado Plateau are the product of many diverse, interconnected factors
Restoration outcomes are the product of many diverse, interconnected factors. The black textboxes in this illustration highlight key factors that directly and indirectly affect restoration success. The panels represent examples of a degraded dryland on the Colorado Plateau (left panel) and a restoration goal for that landscape (right panel). Expanding research efforts to encompass as many of these other key factors as possible can promote restoration success. The numbers in the black textboxes correspond to the factors associated with each of the research directions highlighted in the paper, "Restoration research actions to address rapid change in drylands: Insights from the Colorado Plateau."

The rapid intensification of ecological extremes in response to climate change and human land use is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in drylands, including the semiarid region of the Colorado Plateau. 

USGS and Utah State University researchers highlight research directions to aid in the restoration of Colorado Plateau ecosystems during the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030) that:

  1. Address high levels of ecosystem heterogeneity (variable soil and geomorphic properties and land use histories among patchworks of vegetation communities);
  2. Explore simultaneous global change drivers;
  3. Are co-produced with a broad range of partners and,
  4. Center Indigenous ways of knowing.

The researchers provide examples of restoration research efforts led by early career researchers grappling with informing management actions in a region where new ecological extremes are the result of historic grazing, continued land-use pressures, and a rapidly changing climate.

Read the paper here: Young, K.E., Osborne, B.B., Phillips, M., and Winkler, D.E., 2022, Restoration research actions to address rapid change in drylands—Insights from the Colorado Plateau: Restoration Ecology, e13855, p. 1-5,

A map from a USGS 2022 paper that illustrates BLM Native Plant Program land management boundaries, Colorado Plateau
A map from the USGS paper titled "Restoration research actions to address rapid change in drylands: Insights from the Colorado Plateau," that illustrates Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Native Plant Program land management boundaries on the Colorado Plateau with photos that identify different regions within the land management area. 

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