Landscape Ecology

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 213–227 | Cite as

A revised concept of landscape equilibrium: Disturbance and stability on scaled landscapes

  • Monica G. Turner
  • William H. Romme
  • Robert H. Gardner
  • Robert V. O'Neill
  • Timothy K. Kratz
Article

Abstract

Temporal and spatial scales of disturbance and recovery are often confounded in discussions of landscape equilibrium. We developed a broad framework for the description of landscapes that separates the spatial and temporal scales of disturbance and recovery and predicts the resultant dynamics of a landscape. Two key parameters representing time and space are used to describe potential disturbance dynamics. The temporal parameter, T, is the ratio of the disturbance interval (i.e., time between successive disturbance events) to the time required for a disturbed site to recover to a mature stage. The spatial parameter, S, is the ratio of the size of the disturbance to the size of the landscape. The use of ratios in both parameters permits the comparison of landscapes across a range of spatial and temporal scales. A simple simulation model was developed to explore the implications of various combinations of S and T. For any single simulation, disturbances of a fixed size are imposed at random locations on a gridded landscape at specified intervals. Disturbed sites recover deterministically through succession. Where disturbance interval is long relative to recovery time and a small proportion of the landscape is affected, the system is stable and exhibits low variance over time (e.g., northeastern hardwood forests). These are traditional “equilibrium” systems. Where disturbance interval is comparable to recovery interval and a large proportion of the landscape is affected, the system is stable but exhibits large variance (e.g., subalpine forests in Yellowstone Park). Where disturbance interval becomes much shorter than recovery time and a large proportion of the landscape is affected, the system may become unstable and shift into a different trajectory (e.g., arid ecosystems with altered fire regimes). This framework permits the prediction of disturbance conditions that lead to qualitatively different landscape dynamics and demonstrates the scale-dependent nature of concepts of landscape equilibrium.

Keywords

disturbance landscape equilibrium landscape ecology scale 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen, T.F.H. and Starr, T.B. 1982. Hierarchy. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, W.L. 1989a. Landscape ecology and nature reserve design in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota. Ecology 70: 23–35.Google Scholar
  3. Baker, W.L. 1989b. Effect of scale and spatial heterogeneity on fire-interval distributions. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 19: 700–706.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, C.R. and Marx, D.H. 1978. Effects of Pisolithus tinctorius ectomycorrhizae on growth of loblolly and Virginia pines in the Tennessee Copper Basin. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Research Note SE-264.Google Scholar
  5. Botkin, D.B. 1990. Discordant harmonies: a new ecology for the twenty-first century. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  6. Botkin, D.B. and Sobel, M.J. 1975. Stability in time-varying ecosystems. American Naturalist 109: 625–646.Google Scholar
  7. Bormann, F.H. and Likens, G.E. 1979. Pattern and process in a forested ecosystem. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Canham, C.D. and Loucks, O.L. 1984. Catastrophic windthrow in the presettlement forests of Wisconsin. Ecology 65: 803–809.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, J.S. 1988. Effect of climate change on fire regimes in northwestern Minnesota. Nature 334: 233–235.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, J.S. 1989. Ecological disturbance as a renewal process: theory and application to fire history. Oikos 56: 17–30.Google Scholar
  11. Connell, J.H. and Sousa, W.P. 1983. On the evidence needed to judge ecological stability or persistence. American Naturalist 121: 789–824.Google Scholar
  12. Cooper, W.S. 1913. The climax forest of Isle Royale, Lake Superior, and its development. I. Botanical Gazette 55: 1–44.Google Scholar
  13. Davis, M.B. 1981. Quaternary history and the stability of forest communities. In Forest succession: concepts and applications. Edited by D.C. West, H.H. Shugart and D.B. Botkin. pp. 132–153. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  14. DeAngelis, D.L.and Waterhouse, J.C. 1987. Equilibrium and nonequilibrium concepts in ecological models. Ecological Monographs 57: 1–21.Google Scholar
  15. Delcourt, H.R. and Delcourt, P.A. 1991. Quaternary ecology. Chapman & Hall, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Delcourt, H.R., Delcourt, P.A. and Webb, T. 1983. Dynamic plant ecology: the spectrum of vegetational change in space and time. Quaternary Science Review 1: 153–175.Google Scholar
  17. Despain, D., Rodman, A., Schullery, P. and Shovic, H. 1989. Burned area survey of Yellowstone National Park: the fires of 1988. Unpublished report, Division of Research and Geographic Information Systems Laboratory, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.Google Scholar
  18. Despain, D.G. 1991. Yellowstone vegetation: consequences of environment and history. Roberts Rinehart Publishing Co., Boulder, Colorado.Google Scholar
  19. Egerton, F.N. 1973. Changing concepts of the balance of nature. Quarterly Review of Biology 48: 322–350.Google Scholar
  20. Fearnside, P.M. 1985. Environmental change and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. In Change in the Amazon Basin: man's impact on forests and rivers. Edited by J. Hemming, pp. 70–89. Manchester University Press, Manchester, UK.Google Scholar
  21. Flannigan, M.D. and Harrington, J.B. 1988. A study of the relation of meteorological variables to monthly provincial area burned by wildfire in Canada. Journal of Applied Meteorology 27: 441–452.Google Scholar
  22. Franklin, J.F. and Forman, R.T.T. 1987. Creating landscape patterns by forest cutting: ecological consequences and principles. Landscape Ecology 1: 5–18.Google Scholar
  23. Franklin, J.F. and Hemstrom, M.A. 1981. Aspects of succession in the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. In Forest succession: concepts and application. Edited by D.C. West, H.H. Shugart and D.B. Botkin. pp. 212–239. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Gardner, R.H., Milne, B.T., Turner, M.G. and O'Neill, R.V. 1987. Neutral models for the analysis of broad-scale landscape patterns. Landscape Ecology 1: 19–28.Google Scholar
  25. Golley, F.B. 1974. Structural and functional properties as they influence ecosystem stability. In Proceedings of the First Conference of the International Association for Ecology, pp. 97–102.Google Scholar
  26. Graham, R.L., Turner, M.G. and Dale, V.H. 1990. How increasing CO2 and climate change affect forests. BioScience 40: 575–587.Google Scholar
  27. Harrison, G.W. 1979. Stability under environmental stress: resistance, resilience, persistence and variability. American Naturalist 113: 659–669.Google Scholar
  28. Hemstrom, M.A. and Franklin, J.F. 1982. Fire and other disturbances of the forests in Mount Rainier National Park. Quaternary Research 18: 32–51.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, E.A. 1979. Fire recurrence in the subarctic and its implications for vegetation composition. Canadian Journal of Botany 57: 1374–1379.Google Scholar
  30. Johnson, E.A. and Van Wagner, C.E. 1985. The theory and use of two fire history models. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 15: 214–220. Knight, D.H. 1987. Parasites, lightning, and the vegetation mosaic in wilderness landscapes. In Landscape heterogeneity and disturbance. Edited by M.G. Turner, pp. 59–83. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  31. Leopold, A.S. 1933. Game Management. Scribner's, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Levin, S.A. and Paine, R.T. 1974. Disturbance, patch formation, and community structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 71: 2744–2747.Google Scholar
  33. Loucks, O.L. 1970. Evolution of diversity, efficiency, and community stability. American Zoologist 10: 17–25.Google Scholar
  34. MacArthur, R.H. and Wilson, E.O. 1967. Island biogrography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  35. May, R.M. 1973. Stability and complexity in model ecosystems. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  36. O'Neill, R.V., DeAngelis, D.L., Waide, J.B., Allen, T.F.S. 1986. A hierarchical concept of ecosystems. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  37. Paine, R.T. and Levin, S.A. 1981. Intertidal landscapes: disturbance and the dynamics of pattern. Ecological Monographs 51: 145–178.Google Scholar
  38. Pickett, S.T.A. and Thompson, J.N. 1978. Patch dynamics and the design of nature reserves. Biological Conservation 13: 27–37.Google Scholar
  39. Pickett, S.T.A. and White, P.S. 1985. Patch dynamics: a synthesis. In The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Edited by S.T.A. Pickett and P.S. White, eds. pp. 371–384. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Reynolds, C.S. 1984. The ecology of freshwater phytoplankton. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  41. Richards, P.W. 1966. The tropical rain forest. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  42. Romme, W.H. 1982. Fire and landscape diversity in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park. Ecological Monographs 52: 199–221.Google Scholar
  43. Romme, W.H. and Despain, D.G. 1989. Historical perspective on the Yellowstone fires of 1988. BioScience 39: 695–699.Google Scholar
  44. Romme, W.H. and Martin, W.H. 1982. Natural disturbance by tree - falls in old-growth mixed mesophytic forest: Lilley Cornett Woods, Kentucky. In Central Hardwood Forest Conference IV Proceedings. Edited by R.N. Muller. pp. 367–383. University of Kentucky, Lexington.Google Scholar
  45. Romme, W.H. and Turner, M.G. 1991. Implications of global climate change for biogeographic patterns in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Conservation Biology 5: 373–386.Google Scholar
  46. Rykiel, E.J. 1986. Toward a definition of ecological disturbance. Australian Journal of Ecology 10: 361–365.Google Scholar
  47. Runkle, J.R. 1982. Patterns of disturbance in some old-growth mesic forests of eastern North America. Ecology 63: 1533–1546.Google Scholar
  48. Runkle, J.R. 1985. Disturbance regimes in temperate forests. In The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Edited by S.T.A. Pickett and P.S. White, pp. 17–34. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  49. Salati, E., Lovejoy, T.E. and Voose, P.B. 1983. Precipitation and water recycling in tropical rainforests. Environmentalist 3: 67–72.Google Scholar
  50. Sandenburgh, R., Taylor, C. and Hoffman, J.S. 1987. Rising carbon dioxide, climate change, and forest management: an overview. In The greenhouse effect, climate change, and U.S. forests. Edited by W.E. Shands and J.S. hoffman. pp. 113–121. The Conservation Foundation, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  51. Shugart, H.H. and West. D.C. 1981. Long-term dynamics of forest ecosystems. American Scientist 69: 647–652.Google Scholar
  52. Sprugel, D.G. 1976. Dynamic structure of wave-regenerated Abies balsamea forests in the north-eastern United States. Journal of Ecology 64: 889–911.Google Scholar
  53. Sprugel, D.G. and Bormann, F.H. 1981. Natural disturbance and the steady state in high-altitude balsam fir forests. Science 211: 390–393.Google Scholar
  54. Steele, J.H. 1985. A comparison of terrestrial and marine ecological systems. Nature 313: 355–358.Google Scholar
  55. Sullivan, A.L. and Shaffer, M.L. 1975. Biogeography of the megazoo. Science 189: 13–17.Google Scholar
  56. Turner, M.G., Dale, V.H. and Gardner, R.H. 1989a. Predicting across scales: theory development and testing. Landscape Ecology 3: 245–252.Google Scholar
  57. Turner, M.G., O'Neill, R.V., Gardner, R.H.and Milne, B.T. 1989. Effects of changing spatial scale on the analysis of landscape pattern. Landscape Ecology 3: 153–162.Google Scholar
  58. Turner, M.G. and Romme, W.H. Landscape dynamics in crown fire ecosystems. In Pattern and process in crown fire ecosystems. Edited by R.D. Laven and P.N. Omi. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey (In press).Google Scholar
  59. Van Wagner, C.E. 1978. Age-class distribution and the forest fire cycle. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 8: 220–227.Google Scholar
  60. Watt, A.S. 1947. Pattern and process in the plant community. Journal of Ecology 35: 1–22.Google Scholar
  61. Webb, III, T. 1981. The past 11,000 years of vegetational change in eastern North America. BioScience 31: 501–506.Google Scholar
  62. West, N.E. 1988. Intermountain deserts, shrub steppes and woodlands. In North American terrestrial vegetation. Edited by M.G. Barbour and W.D. Billings, pp.209–230. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  63. White, P.S. 1979. Pattern, process, and natural disturbance in vegetation. Botanical Review 45: 229–299.Google Scholar
  64. White, P.S. and Bratton, S.P. 1980. After preservation: philosophical and practical problems of change. Biological Conservation 18: 241–255.Google Scholar
  65. White, P.S. and Pickett, S.T.A. 1985. Natural disturbance and patch dynamics: An introduction. In The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Edited by S.T.A. Pickett and P.S. White, pp. 3–13. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  66. Wiens, J.A. 1984. On understanding a nonequilibrium world: myth and reality in community patterns and processes. In Ecological communities: conceptual issues and the evidence. Edited by D.R. Strong Jr., D. Simberloff, L.G. Abele and Thistle, A.B. pp. 439–457. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Wiens, J.A. 1989. Spatial scaling in ecology. Functional Ecology 3: 385–397.Google Scholar
  67. Wright, H.E. Jr. 1974. Landscape development, forest fires, and wilderness management. Science 186: 487–495.Google Scholar
  68. Yarie, J. 1981. Forest fire cycles and life tables: a case study from interior Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 11: 554–562.Google Scholar
  69. Zackrisson, O. 1977. Influence of forest fires on the North Swedish boreal forest. Oikos 29: 22–32.Google Scholar
  70. Zedler, P.H., Gautier, C.R. and McMaster, G.S. 1983. Vegetation change in response to extreme events: the effect of a short interval between fires in California chaparral and coastal shrub. Ecology 64: 809–818.Google Scholar
  71. Zedler, P.H. and Goff, F.G. 1973. Size-association analysis of forest successional trends in Wisconsin. Ecological Monographs 43: 79–94.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing by 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica G. Turner
    • 1
  • William H. Romme
    • 2
  • Robert H. Gardner
    • 1
  • Robert V. O'Neill
    • 1
  • Timothy K. Kratz
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentFort Lewis CollegeDurangoUSA
  3. 3.Trout Lake Biological Station, Center for Limnology, University of WisconsinBoulder JunctionUSA

Personalised recommendations