Center for Large Landscape Conservation

Bozeman, MT, United States

Center for Large Landscape Conservation

Bozeman, MT, United States
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Brookshire E.N.J.,Montana State University | Gerber S.,University of Florida | Greene W.,Montana State University | Jones R.T.,Center for Large Landscape Conservation | Thomas S.A.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Geophysical Research Letters | Year: 2017

Denitrification and hydrologic leaching are the two major pathways by which nitrogen (N) is lost from the terrestrial biosphere. Humid tropical forests are thought to dominate denitrification losses from unmanaged lands globally, but there is large uncertainty about the range and key drivers of total N gas emissions across the biome. We combined pantropical measures of small watershed stream chemistry with ecosystem modeling to determine total N gas losses and associated uncertainty across humid tropical forests. Our calculations reveal that denitrification in soils and along hydrologic flow paths contributes on average >45% of total watershed N losses. However, when denitrification occurs exclusively in shallow soils, simulations indicate that gas emissions would exceed N inputs and render plants severely N limited, which contradicts observations of widespread N sufficiency in tropical forests. Our analyses suggest an upper bound on soil denitrification of ~80% of total external N losses beyond which tropical plant growth would be compromised. ©2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


Bixler R.P.,Texas A&M University | Johnson S.,University of Montana | Emerson K.,University of Arizona | Nabatchi T.,Syracuse University | And 4 more authors.
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment | Year: 2016

The objective of large landscape conservation is to mitigate complex ecological problems through interventions at multiple and overlapping scales. Implementation requires coordination among a diverse network of individuals and organizations to integrate local-scale conservation activities with broad-scale goals. This requires an understanding of the governance options and how governance regimes achieve objectives or provide performance evaluation across both space and time. However, empirical assessments measuring network-governance performance in large landscape conservation are limited. We describe a well-established large landscape conservation network in North America, the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent, to explore the application of a social-ecological performance evaluation framework. Systematic approaches to setting goals, tracking progress, and collecting data for feedback can help guide adaptation. Applying the established framework to our case study provides a means of evaluating the effectiveness of network governance in large landscape conservation. © The Ecological Society of America.


Cross M.S.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Zavaleta E.S.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Bachelet D.,Conservation Biology Institute | Brooks M.L.,Southern Illinois University Carbondale | And 18 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2012

As natural resource management agencies and conservation organizations seek guidance on responding to climate change, myriad potential actions and strategies have been proposed for increasing the long-term viability of some attributes of natural systems. Managers need practical tools for selecting among these actions and strategies to develop a tailored management approach for specific targets at a given location. We developed and present one such tool, the participatory Adaptation for Conservation Targets (ACT) framework, which considers the effects of climate change in the development of management actions for particular species, ecosystems and ecological functions. Our framework is based on the premise that effective adaptation of management to climate change can rely on local knowledge of an ecosystem and does not necessarily require detailed projections of climate change or its effects. We illustrate the ACT framework by applying it to an ecological function in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, USA)-water flows in the upper Yellowstone River. Wesuggest that the ACT framework is a practical tool for initiating adaptation planning, and for generating and communicating specific management interventions given an increasingly altered, yet uncertain, climate. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012.


Rudd M.A.,University of York | Beazley K.F.,Dalhousie University | Cooke S.J.,Carleton University | Fleishman E.,University of California at Santa Barbara | And 29 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2011

Integrating knowledge from across the natural and social sciences is necessary to effectively address societal tradeoffs between human use of biological diversity and its preservation. Collaborative processes can change the ways decision makers think about scientific evidence, enhance levels of mutual trust and credibility, and advance the conservation policy discourse. Canada has responsibility for a large fraction of some major ecosystems, such as boreal forests, Arctic tundra, wetlands, and temperate and Arctic oceans. Stressors to biological diversity within these ecosystems arise from activities of the country's resource-based economy, as well as external drivers of environmental change. Effective management is complicated by incongruence between ecological and political boundaries and conflicting perspectives on social and economic goals. Many knowledge gaps about stressors and their management might be reduced through targeted, timely research. We identify 40 questions that, if addressed or answered, would advance research that has a high probability of supporting development of effective policies and management strategies for species, ecosystems, and ecological processes in Canada. A total of 396 candidate questions drawn from natural and social science disciplines were contributed by individuals with diverse organizational affiliations. These were collaboratively winnowed to 40 by our team of collaborators. The questions emphasize understanding ecosystems, the effects and mitigation of climate change, coordinating governance and management efforts across multiple jurisdictions, and examining relations between conservation policy and the social and economic well-being of Aboriginal peoples. The questions we identified provide potential links between evidence from the conservation sciences and formulation of policies for conservation and resource management. Our collaborative process of communication and engagement between scientists and decision makers for generating and prioritizing research questions at a national level could be a model for similar efforts beyond Canada.©2010 Society for Conservation Biology.


Travis Belote R.,Wilderness Society | Dietz M.S.,Wilderness Society | McRae B.H.,Nature Conservancy | Theobald D.M.,Conservation Science Partners Inc. | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Conservation scientists emphasize the importance of maintaining a connected network of protected areas to prevent ecosystems and populations from becoming isolated, reduce the risk of extinction, and ultimately sustain biodiversity. Keeping protected areas connected in a network is increasingly recognized as a conservation priority in the current era of rapid climate change. Models that identify suitable linkages between core areas have been used to prioritize potentially important corridors for maintaining functional connectivity. Here, we identify the most "natural" (i.e., least human-modified) corridors between large protected areas in the contiguous Unites States. We aggregated results from multiple connectivity models to develop a composite map of corridors reflecting agreement of models run under different assumptions about how human modification of land may influence connectivity. To identify which land units are most important for sustaining structural connectivity, we used the composite map of corridors to evaluate connectivity priorities in two ways: (1) among land units outside of our pool of large core protected areas and (2) among units administratively protected as Inventoried Roadless (IRAs) or Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). Corridor values varied substantially among classes of "unprotected" non-core land units, and land units of high connectivity value and priority represent diverse ownerships and existing levels of protections. We provide a ranking of IRAs and WSAs that should be prioritized for additional protection to maintain minimal human modification. Our results provide a coarsescale assessment of connectivity priorities for maintaining a connected network of protected areas. © 2016 Belote et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Plowright R.K.,Montana State University | Eby P.,University of New South Wales | Hudson P.J.,Pennsylvania State University | Smith I.L.,CSIRO | And 18 more authors.
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2015

Viruses that originate in bats may be the most notorious emerging zoonoses that spill over from wildlife into domestic animals and humans. Understanding how these infections filter through ecological systems to cause disease in humans is of profound importance to public health. Transmission of viruses from bats to humans requires a hierarchy of enabling conditions that connect the distribution of reservoir hosts, viral infection within these hosts, and exposure and susceptibility of recipient hosts. For many emerging bat viruses, spillover also requires viral shedding from bats, and survival of the virus in the environment. Focusing on Hendra virus, but also addressing Nipah virus, Ebola virus, Marburg virus and coronaviruses, we delineate this cross-species spillover dynamic from the within-host processes that drive virus excretion to land-use changes that increase interaction among species. We describe how land-use changes may affect co-occurrence and contact between bats and recipient hosts. Two hypotheses may explain temporal and spatial pulses of virus shedding in bat populations: episodic shedding from persistently infected bats or transient epidemics that occur as virus is transmitted among bat populations. Management of livestock also may affect the probability of exposure and disease. Interventions to decrease the probability of virus spillover can be implemented at multiple levels from targeting the reservoir host to managing recipient host exposure and susceptibility. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


PubMed | The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Science Partners Inc., Center for Large Landscape Conservation, Gage Cartographics and The Wilderness Society
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

Conservation scientists emphasize the importance of maintaining a connected network of protected areas to prevent ecosystems and populations from becoming isolated, reduce the risk of extinction, and ultimately sustain biodiversity. Keeping protected areas connected in a network is increasingly recognized as a conservation priority in the current era of rapid climate change. Models that identify suitable linkages between core areas have been used to prioritize potentially important corridors for maintaining functional connectivity. Here, we identify the most natural (i.e., least human-modified) corridors between large protected areas in the contiguous Unites States. We aggregated results from multiple connectivity models to develop a composite map of corridors reflecting agreement of models run under different assumptions about how human modification of land may influence connectivity. To identify which land units are most important for sustaining structural connectivity, we used the composite map of corridors to evaluate connectivity priorities in two ways: (1) among land units outside of our pool of large core protected areas and (2) among units administratively protected as Inventoried Roadless (IRAs) or Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). Corridor values varied substantially among classes of unprotected non-core land units, and land units of high connectivity value and priority represent diverse ownerships and existing levels of protections. We provide a ranking of IRAs and WSAs that should be prioritized for additional protection to maintain minimal human modification. Our results provide a coarse-scale assessment of connectivity priorities for maintaining a connected network of protected areas.


PubMed | Australian National University, University of New South Wales, James Cook University, University of Queensland and 10 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2014

Viruses that originate in bats may be the most notorious emerging zoonoses that spill over from wildlife into domestic animals and humans. Understanding how these infections filter through ecological systems to cause disease in humans is of profound importance to public health. Transmission of viruses from bats to humans requires a hierarchy of enabling conditions that connect the distribution of reservoir hosts, viral infection within these hosts, and exposure and susceptibility of recipient hosts. For many emerging bat viruses, spillover also requires viral shedding from bats, and survival of the virus in the environment. Focusing on Hendra virus, but also addressing Nipah virus, Ebola virus, Marburg virus and coronaviruses, we delineate this cross-species spillover dynamic from the within-host processes that drive virus excretion to land-use changes that increase interaction among species. We describe how land-use changes may affect co-occurrence and contact between bats and recipient hosts. Two hypotheses may explain temporal and spatial pulses of virus shedding in bat populations: episodic shedding from persistently infected bats or transient epidemics that occur as virus is transmitted among bat populations. Management of livestock also may affect the probability of exposure and disease. Interventions to decrease the probability of virus spillover can be implemented at multiple levels from targeting the reservoir host to managing recipient host exposure and susceptibility.


McClure M.L.,Montana State University | McClure M.L.,Center for Large Landscape Conservation | Hansen A.J.,Montana State University | Inman R.M.,Wildlife Conservation Society
Landscape Ecology | Year: 2016

Context: Connectivity has become a top conservation priority in response to landscape fragmentation. Many methods have been developed to identify areas of the landscape with high potential connectivity for wildlife movement. However, each makes different assumptions that may produce different predictions, and few comparative tests against empirical movement data are available. Objectives: We compared predictive performance of the most-used connectivity models, cost-distance and circuit theory models. We hypothesized that cost-distance would better predict elk migration paths, while circuit theory would better predict wolverine dispersal paths, due to alignment of the methods’ assumptions with the movement ecology of each process. Methods: We used each model to predict elk migration paths and wolverine dispersal paths in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, then used telemetry data collected from actual movements to assess predictive performance. Methods for validating connectivity models against empirical data have not been standardized, thus we applied and compared four alternative methods. Results: Our findings generally supported our hypotheses. Circuit theory models consistently predicted wolverine dispersal paths better than cost-distance, though cost-distance models predicted elk migration paths only slightly better than circuit theory. In most cases, our four validation methods supported similar conclusions, but provided complementary perspectives. Conclusions: We reiterate suggestions that alignment of connectivity model assumptions with focal species movement ecology is an important consideration when selecting a modeling approach for conservation practice. Additional comparative tests are needed to better understand how relative model performance may vary across species, movement processes, and landscapes, and what this means for effective connectivity conservation. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht


Kociolek A.V.,Montana State University | Callahan A.R.,Montana State University | Clevenger A.P.,Center for Large Landscape Conservation
ITE Journal (Institute of Transportation Engineers) | Year: 2015

The article explores the creative, economic, cultural, and operational dimensions of wildlife-highway mitigation and highlights several efforts by the Animal Road Crossings partnership to identify barriers, potential solutions, and collaborative opportunities. Transportation engineering has the distinct and demanding tradition of meeting human mobility and safety needs. These days, however, more and more transportation professionals are expanding their focus to consider the needs of wildlife and their habitats. Cost-benefit analyses suggest there are many road sections in the US and Canada where the benefits of installing wildlife crossings with fencing would exceed the costs associated with collisions between motorists and animals such as deer, elk, and moose.

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