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Ecosystem approach to management. What is Ecosystem Management? The ecosystem Past Resource Management Approach New ecosystem management approach Examples Using Natural Processes under Ecosystem Management Disturbance Succession Important types of natural disturbance.

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ecosystem approach to management
Ecosystem approach to management
  • What is Ecosystem Management?
    • The ecosystem
    • Past Resource Management Approach
    • New ecosystem management approach
    • Examples
  • Using Natural Processes under Ecosystem Management
    • Disturbance
    • Succession
    • Important types of natural disturbance

Epic of Gilgamesh – ancient Mesopotamia

Social systems developed by the civilization far outstretched the constraints of ecological systems

i what is ecosystem management
I. What is Ecosystem Management?

A. The Ecosystem = All the organisms in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to trophic structure, biotic diversity and material cycles.

“Any land management system that seeks to protect populations of all native species, perpetuates natural disturbance…at the regional scale, adopts a planning time line of centuries, and allows human use at levels that do not result in long-term ecological degradation.”

components of the ecosystem
Components of the ecosystem
  • Energy flow – thermal energy, primary production, secondary production
  • Nutrient flow – organic detritus (detritovores extract soluble substances)
  • Abiotic – latitude/longitude, temp., moisture, wind, exposure, elevation, geology, geography, water current, salinity, amount of oxygen
  • Biotic – species in the community
b past resource management approach
B. Past Resource Management Approach
  • Multiple use – Pinchot’s resource conservation ethic
  • Resource Management -Wildlife managers/ fisheries/ forestry
    • Manipulate processes of ecosystems to boost desired species’ populations
    • Treat populations as commodities within ecosystems
    • Separate Agencies manage separate populations
    • Federal land use – value part of the ecosystem as a resource
    • Management UNIT =
c new ecosystem management approach
C. New Ecosystem Management Approach
  • Recognizes the interrelated nature of air, land, water and all living beings rather than geopolitical boundaries and departmental divisions.
  • Calls for creative partnerships that look at natural boundaries, such as watersheds, as the unit of management.
  • It was endorsed at the fifth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CoP 5 in Nairobi, Kenya; May 2000) as the primary framework for action under the Convention.
an ecosystem approach involves the following principles
An ecosystem approach involves the following principles:
  • Includes the whole system, and not just parts of it
  • Based on a broad spatial and temporal scale
  • Focuses on interrelationships among the components of the environment and between living and non-living things
  • Includes consideration of the natural environment, society and economy & emphasizes collaborative decision making
  • Is based on natural geographic units (defined by ecological boundaries) such as watersheds
ecosystem management holistic approach
Ecosystem management = Holistic approach
  • Considers humans and all living components as one interacting system
  • Seeks sustainable human use
  • Emphasizes interaction between stakeholders
    • Land owners: private individuals, industry, county/state, tribal lands, federal lands,
Sustainable management at an ecosystem level will only succeed when human welfare & economic considerations are taken into account
d examples
D. Examples

Each unit is represented by an ecosystem team which has developed its own biologically- based strategy. The Service has identified and defined boundaries for 53 ecosystem units by grouping the USGS defined watersheds -

1 northwest forest plan nwfp
1) Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP)
  • Connectivity
  • Landscape heterogeneity
  • Structural complexity
  • Integrity of aquatic systems
  • Plan represents an agreement among diverse stakeholders to manage across wide forest and insitutional boundaries
2 greater yellowstone ecosystem
2) Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
  • Number of various agencies governing the management of the lands
  • 2 national parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton (parts of Wyoming, Montana & Idaho)
  • 3 national wildlife refuges
  • Headwaters of 3 major river systems: Yellowstone, Snake and Green Rivers
3 bocas del toro panama
3) Bocas del Toro, Panama
ii using natural processes under ecosystem management
II. Using Natural Processes under Ecosystem Management:
  • Management must protect ecological processes that determine the characteristics of the ecosystem

Ecological Processes:

  • Disturbance
  • Succession
  • Important types of natural disturbance
a natural disturbance
A. Natural Disturbance
  • A force that alters a community and usually removes organisms from it, but is an integral part of ecosystem structure/function
    • Intermediate level: positive effects (increase heterogeneity) reduces competition, increases biodiversity
b succession
B. Succession
  • There is an impact of established species upon their environments…causes changes in environmental conditions.



for species



for species



for species






Primary community: arises in a lifeless area

Secondary community: occurs after disturbance

1 fire as a natural disturbance
1) Fire as a natural disturbance
  • Habitat heterogeneity, amount of edge
  • Species Diversity
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Nutrient loss from soil
  • Erosion and surface runoff
  • Stream flow rates
  • Grazing and browsing of ungulates
  • Establishment of early successional species

Prescribed Burns -the controlled application of fire to existing naturally occurring fuels under specified environmental conditions, which allows the fire to be confined to a predetermined area.

  • suppressed fires can result in overgrowth of non-native shrubs, trees and grasses
  • Native, fire-resistant species survive –some even dependant upon fire
  • Leaf litter & undergrowth removed -helps to remove the “fuel” for future fires
  • Problem: potential to spread to inhabited areas – out of control…

Prairie ecosystem:

In a study comparing an area burned in April after the snows melt to an area unburned for 25 years, there was a three to fourfold increase in forbs (flowers) for 1 to 2 growing seasons.

effects of flooding
Effects of Flooding
  • Natural flooding – increases habitat heterogeneity

Damn Dams!

Effects of Dams on ecosystems

3 herbivores small scale disturbance agents
3). Herbivores – small scale disturbance agents
  • Regulate habitat, energy flow, nutrient cycling, plant nutrition
  • prevent vertical development, reduce litter and soil nutrients
experiment 1 artificial ponds
Experiment 1: Artificial ponds
  • Cattle tanks
  • Stock with leaf litter, plants, invertebrates
  • 1200 newly hatched larvae of a mix of the 6 anuran species (150 to 300 each species)
  • Predators: 0, 2, 4, 8 adult newts
temporary pond amphibians
Temporary pond amphibians
  • Predators … salamanders
    • Newts (Notophthalmus)
      • adults and larvae
  • Prey: anuran larvae
effect of newt predation
Effect of newt predation
  • 0 newts
    • Scaphiopus dominates, Hyla rare
  • 2 newts
    • Scaphiopus dominates, Hyla crucifer increases
    • Maximal mass of anuran adults; Maximal evenness
  • 4 newts
    • Hyla crucifer & Scaphiopus equally abundant
  • 8 newts
    • 60% Hyla crucifer, all others rare