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Anticipatory natural resource science and management for a changing future

TitleAnticipatory natural resource science and management for a changing future

Authors: John B. Bradford, Julio L. Betancourt, Bradley J. Butterfield, Seth M. Munson, and Troy E. Wood

John Bradford, the primary investigator of one of the NC CASC's project teams, and fellow authors discuss the potential for anticipatory natural resource science and management - the idea that applying existing and improving knowledge and tools can improve both short-term and long-term land management planning. 

Abstract: Prolonged shifts in long‐term average climate conditions and increasing variability in short‐term weather conditions affect ecological processes, and represent a fundamental challenge for natural resource management. Recent and forthcoming advances in climate predictability may offer novel opportunities, but capitalizing on these opportunities will require focusing scientific research on understanding the links between climate and ecological responses over multiple timescales, fostering programmatic links among science and management agencies, and developing new and flexible decision‐making frameworks. Anticipating short‐ to near‐term climate conditions can help managers mitigate land degradation driven by unfavorable conditions and promote actions that make the most of favorable conditions. Similarly, anticipating long‐term, multidecadal climate trajectories can help managers to identify those species and communities that are most likely to remain viable throughout the 21st century. A focus on “anticipatory science and management” could substantially bolster natural resource planning and management but will require long‐term investment and widespread adoption.

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the US Geological Survey's Ecosystems, Water, and Land Resources Mission areas, and by the Restoration Assessment and Monitoring Program for the US Southwest. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US government.