MAJOR RESEARCH QUESTIONS
OF THE CONSORTIUM
- How can we measure trajectories of change in
ecosystems across scales from sites to large basins or landscapes?
- What is the current state of ecological resources
within the region?
- How do natural patterns and processes of landscapes
or ecosystems interact with anthropogenic patterns and processes?
- What types of interactions are consistent and
what types are contradictory?
- What are critical yardsticks for comparing and
contrasting various alternative future scenarios (e.g., biological/ecological,
economic, climate/hydrologic, demographic)?
- What indicators of ecosystem processes or components
are most useful, meaningful, and tractable for describing historical
condition, current status, and alternative futures across multiple
spatial scales in the Pacific Northwest?
- What indicators of climatic/hydrologic/geomorphic
processes or components are most useful, meaningful, and tractable
for describing historic condition, current status, and alternative
futures across multiple spatial scales in the Pacific Northwest?
- What indicators of demographic and economic processes
or components are most useful, meaningful, and tractable for describing
historic condition, current status, and alternative futures across
multiple spatial scales in the Pacific Northwest?
- What environmental management options are available
to alter future ecosystem conditions across a range of spatial scales?
- How can natural processes and human programs
be used to maintain or restore ecosystem processes and patterns?
- What are fundamental limits on achievement of
ecosystem management objectives?
- How can human efforts be designed to enhance
natural processes that restore ecosystems and recognize ecological
benefits of future disturbances?
RESEARCH APPROACHES OF THE CONSORTIUM
The fundamental research components will integrate
a series of assessments designed to create a rigorous context for decision
making. We will apply quantitative tools and information systems to
provide critical interpretation of the uncertainty associated with decisions
about future alternatives. We will employ three major research approachesócharacterizing
change, identifying and understanding critical processes, and evaluating
Characterizing Status and Change
The research will assess trajectories of change
from pre-settlement reconstructions through alternative future scenarios.
Research components will be guided by initial assessments
which will influence future research and environmental management. Assessment
- Describe historical change
- Describe current condition and function
- Delimit bio-physical and socio-economic processes
and functions that constrain possible future ecosystem trajectories
- Characterize the level of rigor and the uncertainty
and unknowns in the assessment
Identifying and Understanding Critical Processes
We will produce a set of conceptual, quantitative,
and evaluative models to identify and analyze critical anthropogenic
and non-anthropogenic processes related to ecosystems. This phase of
the research will:
- Identify critical ecological (biotic), environmental
(physical and chemical) and socio-economic (individual, household,
and institutional) influences on ecosystem structure and function
- Select indicators in each process category that
quantify the magnitude of response to these influences on ecosystems
- Integrate quantitative tools, information systems,
and qualitative understanding to describe system responses both within
and across process categories
We will evaluate and illustrate the social and ecological
consequences of potential management actions for future landscape conditions.
To the extent possible, we will describe sources and levels of uncertainty
and define likely boundaries of ecosystem and socio-economic trajectories.
This phase of the effort will require:
Creating alternative futures that:
- illustrate the major strategic choices
- are linked to population and socio-economic settings
- explicitly identify the likelihood and advantage
of relevant choices
Evaluating the consequences of alternative
futures on critical anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic processes. Evaluation
of future scenarios will characterize:
- reversibility of consequences of resource decisions
- technical limitations of achieving future actions
- scientific uncertainty
- policy or legislative constraints
- community actions to influence landscape conditions
- social outcomes in terms of distributional effects
- public response to alternative futures
Using scholarly articles, electronic media,
technical workshops, and public forums to present the results of these