From Drought to Deluge: Evolutionary Lessons for Natural Resource Management in an Increasingly Variable World

Monday, August 10, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
327, Baltimore Convention Center
Peter B. Adler, Utah State University
David J. Augustine, USDA-ARS
Peter B. Adler, Utah State University
What do annual plants in the Sonoran desert, seasonally migrating herds, Wall Street traders, and ranchers have in common? All are trying to make a living in highly variable, fluctuating environments. Yet despite the common challenges faced by these very different actors, and longstanding questions within each subdiscipline about strategies for coping with fluctuations, the research remains splintered. Biologists study life history evolution in variable environments; conservation biologists estimate the population-level impacts of environmental fluctuations; researchers working on social-ecological systems try to understand how traditional pastoralists and western ranchers respond to drought; climate scientists are trying to provide managers with improved mesoscale forecasting products. Thanks to recent advances in theory, the time is right to synthesize these typically distinct areas of research. The goal of our organized oral session is to highlight the common—and limited—strategies available for organisms and economic enterprises to deal with temporal variability. Our hope is that this synthesis will lead to novel insights about natural resource management in an increasingly variable world. Perhaps managers can apply evolution’s solutions? Our session will begin with a talk by Carlos Botero, who has developed theory showing that all strategies for coping with variability fall on a continuum from forecasting (i.e. adjusting investments based on information about the future environment) to bet-hedging (i.e. always making conservative investments to avoid catastrophic loss). The location of the strategy on this continuum depends on the organism’s ability to predict the future environment. The next talk will focus on the degree of predictability of the climate system. Rob Gillies, Utah’s state climatologist, will discuss challenges and recent improvements in meteorologists’ ability to predict weather and climate over a range of temporal scales. The rest of the presentations focus on organismal responses to varying environment. Osvaldo Sala will discuss the role of vegetation structure and composition in translating precipitation variability into variability in net primary production. Jennifer Gremer will discuss bet-hedging in desert annual plants. David Augustine will show how abiotic spatial heterogeneity can buffer consumers against temporal variability in precipitation. Randall Boone will focus on ungulate movement as a response to temporal variability in forage. The final two talks will focus on temporal variability’s impact on social-ecological systems. Lizzie King and then Maria Fernandez-Gimenez will discuss ways that pastoralists in different parts of the world respond to drought.
1:30 PM
 Evolutionary tipping points in the capacity to adapt to environmental change
Carlos Botero, North Carolina State University; Jonathan Wright, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Franjo J. Weissing, RUG; Dustin Rubenstein, Columbia University
1:50 PM
 Climate variability and predictability from seasonal to decadal time scales
Robert Gillies, Utah State University; S.-Y Wang, Utah Climate Center
2:10 PM
 Gambling in the desert: Bet hedging in Sonoran Desert winter annual plants
Jennifer R. Gremer, University of California, Davis; Sarah Kimball, UC Irvine; D. Lawrence Venable, University of Arizona
2:30 PM
 Contrasting plant-functional type responses to increased interannual precipitation variability
Laureano Gherardi, Arizona State University; Osvaldo E. Sala, Arizona State University
2:50 PM
 Does spatial heterogeneity mitigate the effect of extreme temporal variability on large herbivores? A test at local spatial scales in a semi-arid grassland
David J. Augustine, USDA-ARS; Lauren M. Porensky, USDA-ARS; Justin D. Derner, Rangeland Resources Research Unit
3:10 PM
3:20 PM
 Effects of fragmentation on large herbivores under variable climates
Randall B. Boone, Colorado State University; Jared Stabach, Colorado State University; Carolyn Lesorogol, Washington University
3:40 PM
 Novelty, uncertainty, and adaptability: Risk perceptions and coping strategies of kenyan pastoralists in a rapidly changing world
Elizabeth G. King, University of Georgia; Laura A. German, University of Georgia; Ryan R. Unks, University of Georgia
4:20 PM
 Pairing Bouteloua gracilis with its "home-team" soil organisms enhances plant growth regardless of environmental conditions
Michael Remke, Northern Arizona University; Matthew A. Bowker, Northern Arizona University; Nancy C. Johnson, Northern Arizona University
4:40 PM
 Increase the mean, reduce the variance, or bet on a bonanza: How should plants respond to environmental variability in pollen receipt?
Joshua M. Rapp, University of California; Sebastian J. Schreiber, University of California; Jay A. Rosenheim, University of California; Neal M. Williams, University of California; Lawrence D. Harder, University of Calgary