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Title: Are Madrean ecosystems approaching tipping points? Anticipating interactions of landscape disturbance and climate change

Author: Falk, Donald A.;

Date: 2013

Source: In: Gottfried, Gerald J.; Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gebow, Brooke S.; Eskew, Lane G.; Collins, Loa C. Merging science and management in a rapidly changing world: Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago III and 7th Conference on Research and Resource Management in the Southwestern Deserts; 2012 May 1-5; Tucson, AZ. Proceedings. RMRS-P-67. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 40-47.

Publication Series: Proceedings (P)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: Contemporary climate change is driving transitions in many Madrean ecosystems, but the time scale of these changes is accelerated greatly by severe landscape disturbances such as wildfires and insect outbreaks. Landscape-scale disturbance events such as wildfires interact with prior disturbance patterns and landscape structure to catalyze abrupt transitions to novel ecosystem configurations. These reorganized landscapes are characterized by new disturbance regimes and potentially dramatic departures in species diversity and distributions, community composition, carbon storage, landscape mesoclimate, and soil and hydrologic processes. Post-transition ecosystems can be highly resilient in their altered state, and resistant to return to pre-disturbance conditions in the current and near-term climate regime, possibly representing alternative metastable states. Severe landscape disturbance interacts with, and may be driven by, climate variation to govern ecosystem dynamics and large-scale ecosystem change. We present a conceptual model organized around six key attributes that may drive ecosystems to rapid change and novel trajectories.

Keywords: Madrean Archipelago, Sky Islands, southwestern United States, northern Mexico, natural environment, fauna, flora, research, management, biodiversity, climate change

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Falk, Donald A. 2013. Are Madrean ecosystems approaching tipping points? Anticipating interactions of landscape disturbance and climate change. In: Gottfried, Gerald J.; Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gebow, Brooke S.; Eskew, Lane G.; Collins, Loa C. Merging science and management in a rapidly changing world: Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago III and 7th Conference on Research and Resource Management in the Southwestern Deserts; 2012 May 1-5; Tucson, AZ. Proceedings. RMRS-P-67. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 40-47.

 


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