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Tuesday, April 10 • 10:00am - 10:15am
DISTURBANCE LEGACIES AND RESILIENCE: Risk and Resilience in an Uncertain World

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AUTHORS: Virginia H. Dale*, University of Tennessee; Charlie C. Crisafulli, US Department of Agriculture Forest Service; Henriette I. Jager, Amy K. Wolfe, Rebecca A. Efroymson – Oak Ridge National Laboratory

ABSTRACT: Ecological disturbances are occurring with greater frequency and intensity than in the past. Furthermore, multiple events or different types of disturbances can undermine the ability of environmental systems to recover, and interacting disturbances can cause ecological systems to transition to new, undesirable states. Under projected shifts in disturbance regimes and patterns of recovery, societal and environmental impacts are expected to be more extreme and occur over a larger area. Furthermore, reestablishment may be to a new state or what some call an “emerging ecosystem,” whose properties then influence future risks and resilience to subsequent disturbances. The need to proactively address risk and resilience is pressing. Managing complex ecosystems to maintain essential characteristics in the face of an uncertain future is challenging. Therefore, I offer a perspective on risk and resilience that encompasses interactions among ecosystems, human organizational dynamics and infrastructure, and evolving technological capabilities. Management decisions need to address (1) hazard assessment, monitoring, and mitigation; (2) natural resource use and management of ecosystem services; and (3) interfaces among humans, technologies, and emerging ecosystems. The spectacular eruption of Mount St. Helens on 18 May 1980 was the largest and most deadly volcanic eruption in historical times in the conterminous United States. I will review lessons distilled from the 37-year body of research, which has strongly influenced and even reshaped our understanding of biological community assembly and successional processes. Because the future is uncertain and unknowable, ecologists must be cognizant of how disturbance patterns become integrated into planning of future infrastructure and protection. Ecological research can test and demonstrate the benefits of protecting or proactively managing important features and places, circumstances, and processes that enhance provisioning of ecosystem services. It is time to demonstrate how ecological science applied to human-environmental systems can reduce risks and enhance resilience in a complex, changing world.

Tuesday April 10, 2018 10:00am - 10:15am CDT
Water Tower Parlor