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Sustaining Biological Diversity and Ecological Functions in the Face of Large-scale Change: Future Challenges in Natural Resource Management. Pat Leahy – Acting Director, U.S. Geological Survey Matt Hogan – Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Future

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Sustaining Biological Diversity and Ecological Functions in the Face of Large-scale Change: Future Challenges in Natural Resource Management.Pat Leahy – Acting Director, U.S. Geological SurveyMatt Hogan – Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
What is the
  • Future Challenges
  • project?
  • A USGS and FWS,
  • future-oriented partnership in science-based conservation.
  • emerged from
  • October 2003 meeting
  • of USGS Executive
  • Leadership Team and
  • FWS Directorate.

L to R, former USGS Director Chip Groat

and former USFWS Director Steve Williams

Future Challenges
  • project goal:
  • To position USGS and FWS to
  • predict and respond to
  • significant challenges to
  • biodiversity and ecosystem
  • function over the next
  • 15-20 years.
  • breaking
  • scientific
  • research
  • has historically provided the basis for significant progress in addressing environmental challenges.

Rachel Carson J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling

It is our turn, and our responsibility, to build the scientific foundation that will support conservation leaders who come after us.
Today, significant future impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem function are predicted from:
  • Invasive Species
  • Biotechnology
  • Climate Change
  • Water for Ecological Needs
Invasive Species:
  • Growing threat of invasive species to ecosystem function and native species conservation.

Globalization: Trade-Travel-Transport

  • A potential conservation tool, but genetic engineering can pose potential threats to ecological functioning that need to be assessed.
Can modern biotechnology support natural resource conservation?
  • To better understand and manage populations?
  • To modify or manipulate organisms?
  • To determine effects of modified organisms on existing populations?
First Transgenic Animal

on U.S. Market

The New York Times Nov 22, 2003

“Gene-Altering Revolution Nears the Pet Store: Glow-in-the-Dark Fish”

Nature Nov 27 2003

GloFish casts light on murky policing of transgenic animals

Marketed without regulatory environmental review. FDA is lead authority.

Climate Change:
  • 2-4 degree C. increase
  • in earth’s temperature
  • predicted by end of
  • 21st Century.
Water For Ecological Needs:
  • Scientists predict significant implications for aquatic resource conservation from changes in use and allocation of water.
demand for ecosystem services is a major driver of changes in water allocations
Demand for ecosystem services is a major driver of changes in water allocations








future challenge elevating ecosystem requirements in water use planning
Future Challenge: Elevating ecosystem requirements in water-use planning
  • New paradigm
  • Whole hydrograph
  • Dynamic channel
  • And ground water
  • Biological community

Old paradigm

Minimum flow

Static channel

Surface water

Single species

Invasive species


Climate Change

Water for Ecological Needs

Given these identified future challenges to ecosystem function and sustainability, USGS and FWS must lay both a science and a management foundation for future generations of decision-makers and resource managers.

Overall Game Plan
  • Regional workshops and
  • reports – completed
  • National Listening Session
  • Final Report and Action Plan
Regional Workshops
  • Primarily to engage our employees
  • Held in Denver, Anchorage, Sacramento, and Atlanta
Results: Invasive Species
  • Be strategic: focus on species and habitats where USGS & FWS can make a difference. Increase use of FWS lands.
  • Emphasize research and management for detection, prevention and control efforts early in the invasion process.
  • Focus on understanding linkages between global change, biotechnology, and invasive species.
Results: Biotechnology
  • Planning for the use of biotechnology in conservation should proceed due to great potential benefits, but with deliberation and great care.
  • Information exchange and broader partnerships with academia and industry are essential for success.
  • Risk assessment procedures and the need for policy changes must be addressed very soon.
Results: Climate Change
  • Develop and implement specific monitoring strategies tailored to effects on wildlife and habitats.
  • Focus planning and management efforts at the ecosystem level.
  • Rethink the design of reserves and protected areas.
  • Climate Change complicates planning for the other three challenges.
Results: Water for Ecological Needs
  • Place greater emphasis on whole systems approaches.
  • Improved systems understanding will allow resource managers to prioritize areas and develop strategies for vulnerable systems.
  • Need for predictive models of potential systems effects under different land/water management regimes.
Workshops’ Consensus:
  • Importance of comprehensive monitoring programs
  • Need for systems-level understanding
  • Value of predictive modeling to guide proactive management actions
  • Need for effective risk assessment and management
National Listening Session
  • Planned for early 2006 in Washington, DC
  • Verify direction, elicit ideas, identify partners
Action Plan
  • Create a final plan to guide
  • broad partnership in science-based conservation over the next two decades.
Opportunity for Input
  • All are invited to meet later today to discuss why this Future Challenges effort is needed.
  • 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Concourse Hotel, University AB