Using management to address vegetation stress related to land-use and climate change

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Abstract

While disturbances such as fire, cutting, and grazing can be an important part of the conservation of natural lands, some adjustments to management designed to mimic natural disturbance may be necessary with ongoing and projected climate change. Stressed vegetation that is incapable of regeneration will be difficult to maintain if adults are experiencing mortality, and/or if their early life-history stages depend on disturbance. A variety of active management strategies employing disturbance are suggested, including resisting, accommodating, or directing vegetation change by manipulating management intensity and frequency. Particularly if land-use change is the main cause of vegetation stress, amelioration of these problems using management may help vegetation resist change (e.g. strategic timing of water release if a water control structure is available). Managers could direct succession by using management to push vegetation toward a new state. Despite the historical effects of management, some vegetation change will not be controllable as climates shift, and managers may have to accept some of these changes. Nevertheless, proactive measures may help managers achieve important conservation goals in the future.

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Middleton, B. A., Boudell, J., & Fisichelli, N. A. (2017). Using management to address vegetation stress related to land-use and climate change. Restoration Ecology, 25(3), 326–329. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12507

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