Attributes of reliable long-term landscape-scale studies: Malpractice insurance for landscape ecologists

  • Thomas J. Stohlgren
  • Dan Binkley
  • Thomas T. Veblen
  • William L. Baker
Article

Abstract

Monitoring long-term change in forested landscapes is an intimidating challenge with considerable practical, methodological, and theoretical limitations. Current field approaches used to assess vegetation change at the plot-to-stand scales and nationwide forest monitoring programs may not be appropriate at landscape scales. We emphasize that few vegetation monitoring programs (and, thus, study design models) are designed to detect spatial and temporal trends at landscape scales. Based primarily on advice from many sources, and trial and error, we identify 14 attributes of a reliable long-term landscape monitoring program: malpractice insurance for landscape ecologists. The attributes are to: secure long-term funding and commitment; develop flexible goals; refine objectives; pay adequate attention to information management; take an experimental approach to sampling design; obtain peer-review and statistical review of research proposals and publications; avoid bias in selection of long-term plot locations; insure adequate spatial replication; insure adequate temporal replication; synthesize retrospective, experimental, and related studies; blend theoretical and empirical models with the means to validate both; obtain periodic research program evaluation; integrate and synthesize with larger and smaller scale research, inventory, and monitoring programs; and develop an extensive outreach program. Using these 14 attributes as a guide, we describe one approach to assess the potential effect of global change on the vegetation of the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. This self-evaluation helps identify strengthes and weaknesses in our program, and may serve the same role for other landscape ecologists in other programs.

Keywords

Monitoring Program Landscape Ecologist Landscape Scale Forest Monitoring Vegetation Monitoring 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Stohlgren
    • 1
  • Dan Binkley
    • 2
  • Thomas T. Veblen
    • 3
  • William L. Baker
    • 4
  1. 1.National Biological Service, Natural Resources Ecology LaboratoryColorado State UniversityFt. CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forest SciencesColorado State UniversityFt. CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

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