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Ecological indicators for land management.
Dale, Virginia1, Feminella, Jack2, Mulholland, Pat1, Olsen, Lisa1, Peacock, Aaron3, White, David3, 1 2 3
ABSTRACT- We discuss the use of ecological indicators as a land management tool, focusing on the development and implementation of a procedure for selecting and monitoring indicators. In response to limitations that hamper the effectiveness of ecological indicators as a management device, we developed a hierarchical approach to land management and examined the role indicators can play in providing monitoring information required for ecosystem management. Criteria for the selection of ecological indicators are presented. The development and implementation of indicators useful for land management are applied to Fort Benning, Georgia, where military training, controlled fires (for endangered species), and timber thinning are common management practices. A suite of indicators are being monitored to provide information about understory vegetation, stream chemistry and macroinvertebrates, soil microorganisms, and landscape patterns. For example, geophytes are the predominant species in disturbed areas, and some understory species are more common in disturbed sites than in reference areas. Storm sediment concentration profiles suggest that the more highly disturbed catchments had much greater rates of erosion and sediment transport to streams than less disturbed catchments. Disturbance also resulted in lower EPT richness than in reference streams but similar total species richness. A discriminant analysis using soil microbial phospholipid fatty acids, (PLFAs) was able to predict degree of land use about 90% of the time. Each indicator provides information about the ecological system at different temporal and spatial scales.
KEY WORDS: indicators, land management