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Ecoregional-scale monitoring within conservation areas, in a rapidly changing climate

May 1, 2011

Long-term monitoring of ecological systems can prove invaluable for resource management and conservation. Such monitoring can: (1) detect instances of long-term trend (either improvement or deterioration) in monitored resources, thus providing an early-warning indication of system change to resource managers; (2) inform management decisions and help assess the effects of management actions, as well as anthropogenic and natural disturbances; and (3) provide the grist for supplemental research on mechanisms of system dynamics and cause-effect relationships (Fancy et al., 2009). Such monitoring additionally provides a snapshot of the status of monitored resources during each sampling cycle, and helps assess whether legal standards and regulations are being met. Until the last 1-2 decades, tracking and understanding changes in condition of natural resources across broad spatial extents have been infrequently attempted. Several factors, however, are facilitating the achievement of such broad-scale investigation and monitoring. These include increasing awareness of the importance of landscape context, greater prevalence of regional and global environmental stressors, and the rise of landscape-scale programs designed to manage and monitor biological systems. Such programs include the US Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program (Moser et al., 2008), Canada's National Forest Inventory, the 3Q Programme for monitoring agricultural landscapes of Norway (Dramstad et al., 2002), and the emerging (US) Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (USDOI Secretarial Order 3289, 2009; Anonymous, 2011). This Special Section explores the underlying design considerations, as well as many pragmatic aspects associated with program implementation and interpretation of results from broad-scale monitoring systems, particularly within the constraints of high-latitude contexts (e.g., low road density, short field season, dramatic fluctuations in temperature). Although Alaska is the focus of most papers in this Special Section, we posit that many of the issues that characterize the remote, relatively undisturbed ecosystems of high northern latitudes are widespread and thus applicable to natural-resource management and conservation across northern portions of the Holarctic ecozone and indeed anywhere broad-scale monitoring is contemplated.

Publication Year 2011
Title Ecoregional-scale monitoring within conservation areas, in a rapidly changing climate
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.04.001
Authors Erik A. Beever, Andrea Woodward
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biological Conservation
Index ID 70039882
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center