ESA Session on Resilience, Disturbance, and Long-Term Environmental Change: Aug 4-9, 2013

This year, the ESA Annual Meeting to be held in Minneapolis, MN August 4-9, 2013 will have a session on “Resilience, Disturbance, and Long-Term Environmental Change: Integrating Paleoecology into Conservation and Management in the Anthropocene” cosponsored by the Paleoecology Section, Vegetation Section, and Biogeosciences Section.

Details on speakers and their topics can be reviewed here.

Symposium Description: 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.

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