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Toward a social-ecological theory of forest macrosystems for improved ecosystem management

April 11, 2018

The implications of cumulative land-use decisions and shifting climate on forests, require us to integrate our understanding of ecosystems, markets, policy, and resource management into a social-ecological system. Humans play a central role in macrosystem dynamics, which complicates ecological theories that do not explicitly include human interactions. These dynamics also impact ecological services and related markets, which challenges economic theory. Here, we use two forest macroscale management initiatives to develop a theoretical understanding of how management interacts with ecological functions and services at these scales and how the multiple large-scale management goals work either in consort or conflict with other forest functions and services. We suggest that calling upon theories developed for organismal ecology, ecosystem ecology, and ecological economics adds to our understanding of social-ecological macrosystems. To initiate progress, we propose future research questions to add rigor to macrosystem-scale studies: (1) What are the ecosystem functions that operate at macroscales, their necessary structural components, and how do we observe them? (2) How do systems at one scale respond if altered at another scale? (3) How do we both effectively measure these components and interactions, and communicate that information in a meaningful manner for policy and management across different scales?

Publication Year 2018
Title Toward a social-ecological theory of forest macrosystems for improved ecosystem management
DOI 10.3390/f9040200
Authors William J. Kleindl, Paul C. Stoy, Michael W. Binford, Ankur R. Desai, Mike Dietze, Courtney A. Schultz, Gregory Starr, Christina Staudhammer, David J. A. Wood
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Forests
Index ID 70196494
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center