Plenary Title: Can we manage for resilience? Making decisions about where and how to restore in a changing world
When: Tuesday February 14th 2017
Description: Resilience has long been championed in ecological restoration as a strategy to sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services in the face of a rapidly changing and uncertain future. By identifying components and dynamics that bolster the system’s ability to resist, recover or adapt to environmental changes, restoration can ensure sustainability in the coming century. But how can we actually manage for resilience? I focus on three possible strategies: we can manage drivers of change to enable historic states to persist; we can enhance a system’s ability to adapt to changing conditions; and – particularly when anticipating catastrophic collapse – we can enable transformation to an alternative desired state. A key consideration is that processes which allow for ecological novelty (e.g., evolution, composition turnover) are necessary for ecosystems to adapt to change but actions which introduce “anthropogenic” novelty may often reduce adaptive capacity. While it may be difficult to predict how novelty will “naturally” emerge from complex ecosystem processes, attempting to emulate nature’s response to environmental change may best embrace innovations critical for managing unprecedented environmental change.
Biography: Katharine Suding is a plant community ecologist, and she is working at the interface of ecosystem, landscape and population biology. Her goal is to apply cutting-edge “usable” science to the challenges of restoration, species invasion, and environmental change. She and her research group are working with a range of conservation groups, government agencies and land managers to provide evidence-based solutions that take into account biodiversity, human well-being, and management opportunities. They employ a combination of long-term monitoring, modeling and experimental approaches in settings that range from alpine tundra to oak woodlands to grasslands. Common themes include plant-soil feedbacks, functional traits, species effects on ecosystem processes, and non-linear and threshold dynamics.
Katharine Suding is Professor of ecology at the University of Colorado in Boulder Colorado USA. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan and was on the faculty at the University of California Berkeley before moving to Boulder. She leads the Long-term Ecological Research Program at Niwot Ridge and is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Her research is aimed at understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of systems, why some systems change rapidly and others are surprisingly stable, and how this information can help us better meet conservation and restoration goals.