The Princeton Guide to Ecology, edited by Simon Levin

HP_ecology Many of the topics covered in The Princeton Guide to Ecology, edited by Simon Levin, appear regularly in the news. A good demonstration of how this indispensable resource can enhance our understanding of world issues is the Guide’s treatment of global climate change. In their article “Conservation and Global Climate Change,” Diane M. Debinski and Molly S. Cross explain some of the research methods scientists use to learn the effects of climate change, but also the questions they face in determining how to preserve biodiversity in changing conditions:


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“The science of managing for climate change is currently in its infancy, and the language of this field is still developing. Strategies include whether to manage for resistance options (e.g., those that delay the effects of climate change), resilience options (e.g., those that increase the ability of the ecosystem to return to previous conditions following a disturbance), or response options (e.g., those that facilitate ecosystem changes brought about by a changing climate). Monitoring to establish baseline conditions and quantify change is a first step in providing scientists with the tools to understand how ecosystems are responding to a changing environment. Adaptive management—modifying management approaches over time as the manager obtains a better understanding of the system—will be an important approach to dealing with climate change. For example, if wildfire frequency increases with warmer temperatures, a manager might want to modify the way that wood is harvested to maximize the placement of fire breaks or minimize the amount of standing dead trees that could provide fuel for a fire. However, even if a manager knows the current status of the system, there are several challenges inherent in dealing with climate change: (1) developing a baseline for comparison; (2) understanding time lags; and (3) consideration of entirely new management approaches.”

–from “Conservation and Global Climate Change” by Diane M. Debinski and Molly S. Cross, in The Princeton Guide to Ecology, edited by Simon Levin

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