Maintaining and restoring sustainable ecosystems in southern Nevada: Chapter 7 in The Southern Nevada Agency Partnership science and research synthesis: science to support land management in southern Nevada

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Abstract

Managers in southern Nevada are challenge with determining appropriate goals and objectives and developing viable approaches for maintaining and restoring sustainable ecosystems in a time of rapid socio-ecological and environmental change. Sustainable or "healthy" ecosystems supply clean air, water and habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals. As described in Chapter 1, sustainable ecosystems retain characteristic processes like hydrological flux and storage, geomorphic processes, biogeochemical cycling and storage, biological activity and productivity, and population regeneration and reproduction over the normal cycle of disturbance events (modified from Chapin and others 1996 and Christensen and others 1996). Ecological restoration of stressed or disturbed ecosystems in an integral part of managing for sustainable ecosystems. The Society of Ecological Restoration International (SERI) defines ecological restoration as the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed (SERI 2004).


Many of the southern Nevada's ecosystems are being subjected to anthropogenic stressors that span global, regional, and local scales (Chapter 2)., and are crossing ecological thresholds to new alternative states (Chapter 4 and Chapter 5). These alternative states often represent novel communities with disturbance regimes that differ significantly from historic conditions. Past management and restoration goals often focused on returning ecosystems to pre-disturbance conditions (Harris and others 2006). This approach assumes stable or equilibrium conditions and ignores changes in ecosystems processes due to land uses, increases in CO2 concentrations, and climate change. A more realistic approach is to base management and restoration goals on the current potential of an ecosystem to support a given set of ecological conditions, and on the likelihood of future change due to warming climate (Harris and others 2006). This approach requires understanding ecosystem resilience to anthropogenic disturbance and climate change, the alternative states that exist for ecosystems, and the factors that result in threshold crossing (Bestelmeyer and others 2009; Hobbs and Harris 2001; Stingham and others 2003; Whisemnant 1999). It also requires the ability to predict how climate is likely to influence ecosystems in the future (Harris and others 2006).


This chapter addresses the restoration aspects of Sub-goal 1.3 in the SNAP Science Research Strategy which is to restore and sustain proper function of southern Nevada's watersheds and landscapes (able 1.3; Turner and others 2009). The effects of global, regional and local stresses on southern Nevada ecosystems are presented in Chapter 2. Here, we discuss appropriate objectives and develop guidelines for maintaining and restoring southern Nevada ecosystems. We then discuss the differences in ecological resilience to stress and disturbance and resistance to invasive species in southern Nevada ecosystems and describe restoration and management approaches for the different ecosystem types. We conclude with knowledge gaps and management implications.

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Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Maintaining and restoring sustainable ecosystems in southern Nevada: Chapter 7 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 30 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 125
Last page 154
Country United States
State Nevada
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