Towards broad-scale perspectives on landscape dynamics: The National Ecological Dynamics Database

TitleTowards broad-scale perspectives on landscape dynamics: The National Ecological Dynamics Database
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsWilliamson J, Bestelmeyer BT
Conference NameSociety for Range Management, 65th Annual Meeting
Date Published10/2011
PublisherSociety for Range Management
Conference LocationSpokane, WA
ARIS Log Number285856

Ecological site descriptions (ESDs) are a useful technology for conveying the ecological potential of specific land types and the possible responses of vegetation and soils on them to management. Yet some of the same traits that lend ESDs their management utility (e.g., narrative format and site-specific focus) also make them an inefficient resource for broader-scaled analyses, such as comparing ecological processes among regions or producing national maps of conservation needs. Such objectives would be better served by a database in which ecological information for a region can be (1) readily queried and (2) easily analyzed in a geographic information system. To help address this need, we have initiated development of a National Ecological Dynamics Database (NEDD), which aims to identify and describe ecological dynamics of primary management concern at the level of Major Land Resource Areas. This database will catalog information pertinent to such dynamics in a relational geodatabase format. The core objectives of the NEDD are to (1) promote nationwide consistency in ESD development and (2) provide a national view of potential ecological states (in the sense applied to state-and-transition models), their dynamics, restoration successes and failures, and the factors determining the patterns and types of ecological change observed at landscape to continental scales. As a first step in designing and populating the NEDD, data are being harvested from ESDs currently available. Here, we present insights from this initial exercise and describe in more detail the background, goals, design, and expected utility of this new database.