Resilience, Disturbance, and Long-Term Environmental Change: Integrating Paleoecology Into Conservation and Management in the Anthropocene

Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Auditorium, Rm 3, Minneapolis Convention Center
Alex W. Ireland, The Pennsylvania State University
Philip E. Higuera, University of Idaho
Alex W. Ireland, The Pennsylvania State University
Ecologists are increasingly tasked with predicting the fate of ecosystems in a future with warmer global temperatures, greater climate variability, and increased human land-use pressures. This challenge raises fundamental questions about ecosystem resilience, the ability to recover following a range of perturbations, including wildfire, drought, insect outbreaks, and land surface alteration. Future ecosystem resilience has direct impacts for conservation organizations, land managers, and society at large, which depends on a myriad of potentially vulnerable ecosystem services. Paleoecology plays a central role in understanding ecosystem resilience, by offering a rich set of examples of the causes, patterns, and consequences of past environmental variability. While some examples reveal resilience through large-scale climate change over millennia, others highlight abrupt ecological shifts in response to high-frequency environmental changes, including enhanced climate variability and human activities. Paleoecological records also provide a critical context for evaluating ongoing change, particularly through documenting the rate and impacts of past disturbance events. Learning from the past, however, is more challenging than learning about the past, as it requires integrating paleoecological knowledge with current land management decisions and policy. Timescale disparities represent one such challenge to integration. Paleoecological insights usually document processes operating over decades to millennia, while applied ecologists must work and evaluate success at much shorter timescales. Recent efforts in the paleoecological community aim to meet these challenges, for example, by using paleoecological data to inform ecosystem models that simulate responses to future environmental change, and by integrating our understanding of ecosystem ecology across annual to millennial timescales. This symposium will bring together scientists focused on understanding resilience and vulnerability from both paleoecological and modern perspectives. The session will begin with an overview of the challenges facing ecosystem management and conservation in the Anthropocene, highlighting the need for long-term perspectives. Presentations by paleoecologists working to understand ecological resilience at various timescales with an eye toward informing management and conservation policies and practices will follow. The symposium will also feature ecologists who are actively incorporating long-term perspectives into modeling, management, and conservation. The session will conclude with a roundtable discussion and dialog with symposium attendees.
Paleoecology Section, Vegetation Section
1:30 PM
 A landscape perspective on stability and change over 4000 years in northern Wisconsin
Sara C. Hotchkiss, University of Wisconsin; Elizabeth A. Lynch, Luther College; Randy Calcote, University of Minnesota; Michael A. Tweiten, University of Wisconsin - Madison; Gregor Schuurmann, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
2:00 PM
 The role of disturbances in mediating ecosystem responses to climate changes: Lessons from a diversity of landscapes
Bryan N. Shuman, University of Wyoming; W. John Calder, University of Wyoming; Jeremiah P. Marsicek, University of Wyoming; Thomas Minckley, University of Wyoming
2:30 PM
3:00 PM
3:10 PM
 Bridging paleo- and neo- perspectives in conservation management: A tale of two mountain landscapes
Erica AH Smithwick, The Pennsylvania State University; Elizabeth A. Crisfield, The Pennsylvania State University
3:40 PM
 Model simulations driven by paleo-forcing data reveal large and rapid responses of carbon storage to boreal fire-regime shifts
Ryan Kelly, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Hélène Genet, University of Alaska Fairbanks; A. David McGuire, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Feng Sheng Hu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
4:10 PM
 ­Conservation planning for resilience to climate change: Putting paleobiology into practice
Joseph E. Fargione, The Nature Conservancy; Jenny L. McGuire, University of Washington; Brad H. McRae, The Nature Conservancy
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