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Methods for Determining Historical Range of Variability

  • Hope C. Humphries
  • Patrick S. Bourgeron

Abstract

Previous chapters have emphasized the dynamic nature of ecosystems, including the occurrence of periodic disturbances. Consequently, current ecosystem composition, structure, and function are likely to operate within ranges of variability that arise from climatic variability, disturbance, and the effects of human activities (Bourgeron and Jensen, 1994; Kaufmann et al., 1994; Morgan et al., 1994; Cissel et al., 1998). Understanding the magnitude and direction of anthropogenic impacts requires knowledge of the range of fluctuations historically experienced by ecosystems as a result of variability in climatic conditions, disturbance regimes, and their interactions (Swetnam and Betancourt, 1998). Therefore, the determination of the historical range of variability (HRV) in key ecosystem patterns and processes is an important part of ecological assessments and results in the characterization of the range of variability in conditions to which ecosystem components (e.g., species) are adapted (Bourgeron and Jensen, 1994; Morgan et al., 1994; Swanson et al., 1994). HRV provides a baseline for evaluating anthropogenic changes and a means for identifying the potential for surprise events to occur (Holling, 1986). Historical conditions serve as a model of the functioning of ecosystems under unmodified disturbance regimes and alternative land-use scenarios. Ecosystem patterns and processes operate at multiple hierarchically structured spatial and temporal scales, and therefore the determination of HRV should be conducted at scales that both meet the objectives of the assessment and are appropriate for the patterns and processes of interest (Bourgeron et al., 1994).

Keywords

Pollen Analysis Fire Regime Disturbance Regime Fire History Plant Macrofossil 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hope C. Humphries
  • Patrick S. Bourgeron

There are no affiliations available

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