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Conservation strategies must shift with global environmental change, says CU-Boulder study
Date:1/31/2008

of Arctic and Alpine Research. Such projects could include "reassembling" forest ecosystems in the West devastated by bark beetles, replanting them with bug-resistant trees and introducing vegetation that absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide and filters nutrient-enriched water, he said.

Seastedt likened today's land managers to harried triage doctors. "They are so busy trying to rectify past problems they have a hard time dealing with current problems. We think it is time for managers and ecologists to get in the trenches together and act quickly to manage some of these ecosystems in desirable directions," he said.

Recent successes include public land in Boulder County that is home to a swath of endangered tall grass prairie, he said. There, land managers use a spring grazing regime, allowing cattle to trample and remove standing dead vegetation, doing the job natural fires once did. After the cattle are moved for the year, warm season grasses emerge and fill into a lush stand of tall grass prairie, he said.

A second Boulder County example is a reclaimed gravel pit where managers added low-budget topsoil and a mix of nine native grass species with widely varying moisture tolerances, he said. "The grassland that has emerged under unusually dry conditions was not the one that existed prior to the gravel operations," said Seastedt. "But it is now dominated by a mix of native plant species that thrives in dry soil and anchors an area almost devoid of invasive species.

The team looked at management studies from the past 12 years for their research effort. "In managing novel ecosystems, the point is not to think outside the box, but to recognize that the box itself has moved, and in the 21st century, will continue to move increasingly rapidly," the authors wrote.


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Contact: Timothy Seastedt
timothy.seastedt@colorado.edu
303-492-3302
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert  

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