NCEAS Product 5420

Hart, Stephen C. 1998. Progress Report on the Analysis and Synthesis of the Historical Range of Variability in Ecosystem Structure and Function of Inland West Forests - Implications for Ecological Restoration. (Abstract) (Online version)

Abstract

Management activities such as fire suppression, overgrazing, and selective logging since Euro-American settlement of the Inland West have resulted in forest ecosystems that are in a poor ecological condition. Current proposals to restore these forest ecosystems to their presettlement conditions suffer from the lack of a comprehensive assessment of the historical range of variability in ecosystem structures and functions of these forests. As a Resident Fellow at NCEAS on sabbatical leave from Northern Arizona University, I propose to conduct a comprehensive analysis and synthesis of the current state of knowledge regarding the historical range of variability of forest ecosystems of the Inland West. This analysis will include published manuscripts in professional journals, public documents from land management agencies, and unpublished data contained in graduate student theses or archived in researchers' databases. Other quantitative data such as those from early land survey records or qualitative data such as repeat photography will also be collected and analyzed. Process-based ecological simulation models will be used to assess changes in ecological attributes since Euro-American settlement, and to predict alterations in these attributes following restoration treatments (such as thinning and prescribed burning). Existing experimental data will be used to help verify simulation predictions. This comprehensive synthesis will aid land managers in predicting the potential impact of restoration efforts on ecosystem health in different forest-types, and evaluate the transportability of restoration practices across forests of the Inland West.