Ecosystem stressors in southern Nevada: Chapter 2 in The Southern Nevada Agency Partnership science and research synthesis: science to support land management in southern Nevada

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Abstract

Southern Nevada ecosystems and their associated resources are subject to a number of global and regional/local stressors that are affecting the sustainability of the region. Global stressors include elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and associated changes in temperature and precipitation patterns and amount, solar radiation, and nutrient cycles (Smith and others 2009b). Global stressors are ubiquitous in nature and interact both directly and indirectly with regional or local stressors. Regional/local stressors in southern Nevada include: population growth and urbanization and associated increases in nitrogen deposition, energy development, water development, and recreation; increased effects of insects and disease; ongoing effects of livestock, wild horse and burro grazing; new and expanding invasive species; and altered fire regimes. This chapter provides background information on the stressors affecting southern Nevada's ecosystems that is needed to address Goal 1.0 in the SNAP Science Research Strategy, which is to restore, sustain, and enhance southern Nevada's ecosystems (Turner and others 2009).


Human population growth and changes in land use strongly affect the type and magnitude of local/regional stressors. From 1960 to 2010, Nevada's growth rate was the highest in the nation (www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-01.pdf). Clark County has experienced particularly high growth, with a population increase of greater than 40 percent since the 2000 census. Factors like land ownership, historic and current land use, proximity to human and energy developments, and desirability for recreation all influence the level of human-caused stress.


The strong elevation/climate gradients and large difference in the environmental characteristics of southern Nevada ecosystems (fig. 1.2; Chapter 1) have a major influence on both patterns of land use and the dominant stressors for different ecosystem types. Shifts in land use related to population growth, urbanization, and energy development and largely focused in lower elevation ecosystems including sagebursh, blackbrush and shadscale, and Mojave Desert scrub. Water divisions influence riparian/aquatic ecosystems and springs, while groundwater pumping also has the potential to affect ecosystems that characterize lower valleys including Mojave Desert scrub. Recreational uses influence all ecosystems, and wild horse and burro use and livestock grazing affect all but alpine and subalpine ecosystems. Insects and disease, as well as invasive species are widespread stressors. Fire is limited to ecosystems with sufficient fuels to carry fire and is strongly influence by invasive species in lower elevation Mojave Desert scrub, blackbrush and shadscale, and sagebursh ecosystems.


This chapter address aspects of several of the Goals and Sub-goals listed in the SNAP Science Research Strategy (table 1.3; Turner and others 2009). Altered fire regimes, invasive species, land use practices, and management actions are addressed in Goal 1 -- Sustain, Restore, and Enhance Southern Nevada's Ecosystems. The effects of these stressors on sensitive species and habitat are specifically addressed in Sub-goal 1.4 -- Sustain and Enhance Southern Nevada's Biotic Communities, to Preserve Biodiversity and Maintain Populations. Anthropogenic factors, such a recreation and urbanization, are referred to in Goal 2-- Provide for Responsible Use of Southern Nevada;s Lands in a Manner that Preserve Heritage Resources and Promotes an Understanding of Human Interaction with the Landscape.

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Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Ecosystem stressors in southern Nevada: Chapter 2 in The Southern Nevada Agency Partnership science and research synthesis: science to support land management in southern Nevada
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher U.S. Forest Service
Publisher location Fort Collins, CO
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 20 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Federal Government Series
Larger Work Title The Southern Nevada Agency Partnership science and research synthesis: science to support land management in southern Nevada (General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-303)
First page 17
Last page 36
Country United States
State Nevada
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