Southern Sierra
Science Symposium

Five Major Agents of Change Influencing Ecosystems in the Southern Sierra

Climate change

In a period when we are experiencing global warming, how will the ecosystems of the southern Sierra respond? There is still uncertainty around the magnitude of likely change and the trajectory of precipitation but clearly we will be experiencing changes in climate in the coming decades. How should managers prepare to cope with these changes? What possibilities are there to adapt to and mitigate these changes?

Fire

Wildfire is a natural and dominant force in western forests and shrublands. It is both inevitable and necessary that we enable fire to continue to play a significant role in the formation of ecosystems in the southern Sierra. The larger and immediate questions revolve around how do we adjust to ~100 years of fire suppression, how do we manage fire in the urban-wildland interface, how will fire change in the face of warming climates, can we return fire to these ecosystems in a safe and ecologically sounds manner?

Forest management

Forest management of the past had relatively simple and focused objectives around timber production (on Forest Service lands) and recreational enjoyment (on National Park lands). As we learn more about the complexity of forest systems and as society matures and diversifies in its interests and objectives for public lands, the job of forest management has become exponentially more difficult. The broader objectives of providing vital ecosystem services from our wildlands requires a well developed understanding and tested methods of new land management techniques.

Pollutants

We are becoming more aware of the influences of some human produced pollutants on wildland systems. For example, air pollution from automobile and industrial exhausts is now obvious to people who live in these affected areas and we are also beginning to understand the environmental consequences. It is important to understand the full array of pollutants and their consequences for forest health, water production, air quality, and other vital values derived from forest ecosystems.

Invasive species

Invasive species have become dominant features of many ecosystems around the world. The southern Sierra has been invaded by some non-natives but for the most part these ecosystems are relatively intact. However, invasive species typically are difficult to detect in the early stages of invasion and once established they are very difficult to eradicate. What is the current status of invasives in the ecosystems of the southern Sierra Nevada?

Primary Concerns in Response to these Agents of Change

Wildife

We are interested in the response of particular features to these pervasive stressors. We will focus on two such features of our landscape and examine how wildlife and human communities are/will respond to the array of stressors that exist on this landscape. Two focused presentations will address these issues.

Human communities

We are interested in the response of particular features to these pervasive stressors. We will focus on two such features of our landscape and examine how wildlife and human communities are/will respond to the array of stressors that exist on this landscape. Two focused presentations will address these issues.
Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 03:31:48 PM
Site hosted by the
Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Sierra Nevada Research Center
Print This Page | Webmaster