Resistance & Resilience

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Colorado Wildland Fire Conference

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Conference theme: Resilient Colorado: Moving Forward in Evolving Wildfire Landscapes

September 21-23, 2021
Double Tree Hotel
743 Horizon Drive
Grand Junction, Colorado

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Ecological drought: Planning for resilience

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This webinar focuses on planning, restoration, and recovery actions that strengthen ecosystem resilience, mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, and realize co-benefits.

Presenters: Dr. Jennifer Cartwright, Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center, USGS
Rachel M. Gregg, Senior Scientist, EcoAdapt
Hannah Panci, Climate Change Scientist and Robert Croll, Climate Change Program Coordinator, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

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Rethinking the restoration of resilience for ecosystems outside their historical range of variation

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Resilience goals should be updated to better apply to 21st century ecosystems. They propose a concept of scaled resilience, which incorporates scales of time, space, and biological level of organization. By measuring disturbance and post-disturbance ecosystem responses in all three dimensions, scaled resilience models can be grounded by data that are much more useful to land managers than simple comparisons to reference site conditions.

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Managing for resilience during climate change

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Making lands resilient to climate change has become a legal mandate for US Forest Service land planners (2012 USFS Planning Rule). However, interpreting and applying the directive is challenging because the term “resilience” is rather vague. It is diluted by a variety of definitions in the literature, as well as executed differently in diverse ecosystems by a variety of specialists.

To better grasp how USFS staff interpreted and applied the directive, twenty-six Southwestern Region USFS planners and mangers were interviewed for 30-60 minutes each. The semi-structured interviews were then coded to identify themes and trends. Overall, inductive content analysis of the coded interview data showed that the interviewees had three main areas of concern over the difficulty in reporting and implementing the resilience directive: 1) definitions and scale, 2) flexibility and specificity, and 3) the resilience to climate change paradox.

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Operationalizing concepts of resilience and resistance for at risk ecosystems

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A resilience-based approach to management can facilitate regional planning by guiding the allocation of management resources to where they will have optimal socioecological benefits. This type of approach requires a sound understanding of the environmental factors, ecosystem attributes and processes, and landscape components that influence ecological resilience of the focal system. Chambers et al. review and integrate resilience concepts to help inform natural resources management decisions for ecosystems and landscapes. They describe the six key components of a resilience-based approach, beginning with managing for adaptive capacity and selecting an appropriate spatial extent and grain. Additional components include developing an understanding of the factors influencing the general and ecological resilience of ecosystems and landscapes, the landscape context and spatial resilience, pattern and process interactions and their variability, and relationships among ecological and spatial resilience and the capacity to support habitats and species. They suggest that a spatially explicit approach that couples geospatial information on general and spatial resilience to disturbance with information on resources, habitats, or species provides the foundation for resilience-based management. A case study from the sagebrush biome is provided that is widely used by the management agencies.

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Insights for resilient forest landscapes in the Rogue Basin of southwestern Oregon

Webinar recording.

Description: Severe wildfires threaten forests and communities of the northern Klamath Mountains. Historically these forests thrived with frequent, low-mixed severity fire. However, hotter, drier summers, a century of fire exclusion, and past destructive logging practices are increasing the likelihood of destructive fire. Insights from historical fire regimes and stand conditions have been integrated with contemporary evaluations of wildfire risk and habitat needs to inform the collaboratively derived Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy.

Presenter: Kerry Metlen, Forest Ecologist with The Nature Conservancy of Oregon

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Managing for resilience? Examining management implications of resilience in southwestern National Forests

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The United States Forest Service 2012 Planning Rule prioritizes making lands resilient to climate change. Although researchers have investigated the history of “resilience” and its multiple interpretations, few have examined perceptions or experiences of resource staff tasked with implementing resilience. This study interviewed Forest Service staff in the Southwestern Region to evaluate how managers and planners interpret resilience as an agency strategy, execution of resilience in management, and climate change’s impact on perception of resilience. Interviewees identified resilience as a main driver of agency response to land management but, when applying the concept, experienced barriers including ambiguity; scale; management specificity versus broad, adaptive landscape approach; and lack of metrics or examples. Interviewees found restoring ecosystem function to promote resilience while planning for future changed landscapes difficult. They desired landscape-scale collaboration to understand how to operationalize the resilience directive. Our findings revealed obstacles and opportunities for resilience in a managerial context.

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Past management spurs differential plant communities with single aspen clone forest

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This study found distinct evidence that within management group species composition was more similar than across groups for two of the three pairings. However, the other pairing, the most successfully protected area and the completely unprotected area, was not statistically distinct; likely a result a deteriorating overstorey in these two areas, whereas the third management type (2014 Fence) exhibited higher canopy cover. Indicator species analysis found that a small group of plant species had statistical allegiances to specific management groups, suggesting resource preference selection within Pando. Ordination analysis searching for causal factors reached two broad conclusions: (1) aspen regeneration, and therefore long-term resilience, is being negatively affected by chronic animal browsing and (2) current understorey species diversity is highest where forest canopy gaps are abundant.

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Using remote sensing products to predict recovery of vegetation after energy development

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With remotely-sensed (Landsat) estimates of vegetation cover collected every 2–5  years from sw Wyoming (1985–2015), we modeled changes in sagebrush cover on 375 former oil and gas well pads in response to weather and site-level conditions. We then used modeled relationships to predict recovery time across the landscape as an indicator of resilience for vegetation after well pad disturbances, where faster recovery indicates a greater capacity to recover when similarly disturbed. Rate of change in sagebrush cover generally increased with moisture and temperature, particularly at higher elevations. Rate of change in sagebrush cover also increased and decreased with greater percent sand and larger well pads, respectively. We predicted 21% of the landscape would recover to pre-disturbance conditions within 60 years, whereas other areas may require >100 years for recovery.

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Reproduction and dispersal of biological soil crust organisms

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Biological soil crusts (BSCs) consist of a diverse and highly integrated community of organisms that effectively colonize and collectively stabilize soil surfaces. BSCs vary in terms of soil chemistry and texture as well as the environmental parameters that combine to support unique combinations of organisms – including cyanobacteria dominated, lichen-dominated, and bryophyte-dominated crusts.  The various BSC organismal groups demonstrate several common characteristics including – desiccation and extreme temperature tolerance, production of various soil binding chemistries, a near exclusive dependency on asexual reproduction, a pattern of aerial dispersal over impressive distances, and a universal vulnerability to a wide range of human-related perturbations. With this publication, we provide literature-based insights as to how each organismal group contributes to the formation and maintenance of the structural and functional attributes of BSCs, how they reproduce, and how they are dispersed. We also emphasize the importance of effective application of molecular and microenvironment sampling and assessment tools in order to provide cogent and essential answers that will allow scientists and land managers to better understand and manage the biodiversity and functional relationships of soil crust communities.

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