Assessment, Management and Sustainability of Terrestial Ecosystems
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In the world of rangeland/grazingland management sciences, decisions are often made with less than perfect knowledge. Those tasked with the responsibility of stewarding the lands they manage are confronted with challenges that require a decision in the present that may have long-term implications, both operationally as well as across a broader array of society. Added to the basic operational challenges of rangeland management, the impacts of social, political, ecological and economic drivers confronts the land manager with a complexity of scenarios that cannot be addressed through traditional scientific methodologies.Land steward decisions are based upon and impact a complex set of feedback loops that interact across temporal and spatial scales within the landscape in both linear and non-linear fashions. These decisions, many individually considered simple and straight forward, are linked within the complexity of the ecosystem and follow/influence, cumulatively, past results and future decisions. Karl et al. (2012) described some of the complexity within the decision-making process for rangeland management and suggest that there are three "simultaneous occurrences" that confound decision-makers abilities to find and apply knowledge to rangeland management; 1) the impacts of large-scale environmental and land use changes, 2) a diminished local knowledge of ecosystems, and 3) an ever increasing amount of data and information from which to draw inputs.Ultimately, the systems research efforts within this Hatch Project are geared to moving forward the concepts and capabilities for conservation, management and utilization of a significant land resource in Texas, the nation and the world to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of current generations while maintaining opportunities for future generations. Resilience of these landscapes requires that their management both ensure adequate livelihoods for those who manage for production while meeting the needs/desires of a society at large. To achieve this goal, land managers seek and synthesize and integrate knowledge to be able to make informed decisions that are ecologically sound, economically feasible, and socially acceptable (Teague et al., 2009).