Ecological Principles and Guidelines for Managing the Use of Land

Dale, V.H., S. Brown, R.A. Haeuber, N.T. Hobbs, N. Huntly, R.J. Naiman, W.E.Riebsame, M.G. Turner and T.J. Valone

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Five principles of ecological science have particular implications for land use and can assure that fundamental processes of Earth’s ecosystems are sustained. These ecological principles deal with time, species, place, disturbance, and the landscape. The recognition that ecological processes occur within a temporal setting and change over time is fundamental to analyzing the effects of land use. In addition, individual species and networks of interacting species have strong and far-reaching effects on ecological processes. Furthermore, each site or region has a unique set of organisms and abiotic conditions influencing and constraining ecological processes. Disturbances are important and ubiquitous ecological events whose effects may strongly influence population, community, and ecosystem dynamics. Finally, the size, shape, and spatial relationships of habitat patches on the landscape affect the structure and function of ecosystems. The responses of the land to changes in use and management by people depend on expressions of these fundamental principles in nature. These principles dictate several guidelines for land use.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Ecological Principles and Guidelines for Managing the Use of Land