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Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
Research Topics Ecosystem Processes
About this Research:
Sierra Nevada Ecosystems
Conservation of Biological Diversity
The worldwide loss of biological diversity continues, largely in response to widespread habitat destruction, over-harvesting, pollution, and the accidental or otherwise inappropriate introduction of foreign plants and animals. Thus, to conserve the biological diversity of the Sierra Nevada it will be crucial to identify the vulnerable components of biological diversity, determine the threats to diversity, understand the response of organisms and ecosystems to the threats, determine restoration and recovery techniques, perform adaptive management projects, and monitor recovery.
To protect and maintain biological diversity we must understand how management activities and natural environmental changes affect species and their habitats, work to conserve and protect species that remain viable, and restore species in trouble. Research at the SNRC focuses on the response of populations and communities of aquatic and riparian-associated species to natural and anthropogenic influences, such as introduced exotic species, natural and regulated stream flow regimes, livestock grazing, natural and prescribed fire, and vegetation management.
Subproblem 1: Determine ecological responses of aquatic and ecosystems to anthropogenic (human-induced) and natural environmental changes
Responses of aquatic, riparian, and wetland systems to natural and anthropogenic influences (e.g., fire, flood, drought, climate variation, fuels management, silviculture, livestock grazing, invasive species, dams and diversions) will be studied to provide information for conserving the biological diversity of Sierra Nevada aquatic ecosystems. In order to understand various ecological responses, we will also study physical, chemical, and biological interactions under conditions of minimal human-induced disturbance in aquatic, riparian, and wetland systems.
Subproblem 2: Understanding the basic ecology of aquatic organisms in less disturbed habitats
Basic understanding of the natural history of species and their relationship toless altered habitats is necessary to gain a comparative understanding of processes in managed and unmanaged environments. If management activities are factors in species declines, understanding how ecosystems and species dynamics operate under natural conditions will be important in designing reserves or other restoration plans. For this reason, some research attention is focused in Sierra Nevada National Parks (Yosemite and Kings Canyon) where less disturbance has occurred historically and some management activities are no longer permitted (cattle grazing, logging, fish stocking, etc.). Research gathered in less disturbed, reference areas provides a scientific basis for future management, conservation, and restoration.
Subproblem 3: Develop aquatic species and ecosystem conservation and restoration techniques and strategies
It is widely acknowledged that many aquatic ecosystems are degraded and aquatic species are in decline. New research on the best methods for maintaining, conserving, and, where necessary, restoring the structure, composition, function, and connectivity of aquatic, riparian, and wetland ecosystems and species is needed. Land managers and policy-makers require reliable and defensible science to support restoration activities.
Subproblem 4: Ecological Response of Terrestrial Species and Ecosystems to Management Activities and Natural Processes
Understanding human-induced effects, especially management activities distinguished from natural variability of ecosystems, on populations and communities of terrestrial species is a primary emphasis of this subproblem. Research in this subarea addresses the direct and indirect effects of such influences on the structure, composition and function of vegetation, the quantity and quality of habitat, and the resulting distribution and abundance of species. Broad areas of inquiry include the effects of fire, both wild and prescribed, fire suppression, vegetation management, grazing, climate change, and recreation on Sierran species and communities. Research activities are crafted in collaboration with land managers to maximize practical learning opportunities.
Subproblem 5: Habitat Relationships of Terrestrial Wildlife Species
Basic knowledge of natural history and habitat relationships provides the foundation for understanding the reasons behind responses to human-induced and natural influences, determining the conservation status of species, and assessing projected future change in distribution and abundance. Research in this subproblem emphasizes species-habitat relationships, estimation of important population ecology parameters, and the development of models to predict species occurrence and demographic performance. Possible models range in specificity from habitat suitability models developed from presence-absence data that predict the suitability of a site for occupancy by a species to more detailed models that address habitat quality as determined by relationships among vegetation structure and composition and species survival, reproduction, and dispersal. Habitat models are developed at multiple spatial scales ranging from the plot scale to the larger home range and landscape scales using combinations of vegetation plot data, environmental data, and remotely sensed data.
Subproblem 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Restoration
Inquiry in this sub-area focuses on a broad array of issues related to the conservation and specifically restoration of biodiversity in the Sierra Nevada. Basic and applied research covers topics such as risk assessment, ecological monitoring, identification of focal species, population dynamics and viability assessment, community structure and function, habitat conservation planning, vertebrate community monitoring methods, and species and habitat restoration. Research in this subarea spans multiple spatial and temporal scales and is typically multi-disciplinary in nature, integrating landscape/ecosystem pattern and processes with ecological and socio-economic factors in the development of methods, techniques, and models for managing, conserving, and restoring biodiversity in the Sierra Nevada.
|Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 10:56:03 AM|