Natural range of variation (NRV) assessment for Southern California montane forests
Principal Investigator: John N. Williams
Project Partners: Pacific Southwest Research Station, US Forest Service
Institution: University of California, Davis
Project Type: Science Synthesis and Tool Development
Grant Award: #8GG21802
Amount awarded: $183,037
Award Date: March, 2021
The montane forests of southern California are rich in biodiversity and generate vital ecosystem services for the most densely populated part of the State. At the same time, a range of serious threats including climate change and extensive high-severity wildfire threaten the integrity and distribution of these forests. To assess the implications of these threats and to identify actions for their remediation, we must first have a well-defined understanding of the natural range of variation (NRV) in ecological parameters under minimal anthropogenic influence. At present, no such NRV assessment exists for southern California’s montane forests. In response, we propose to use a well-tested methodology pioneered by our lab group for other forest types in California to establish this critical ecological baseline. Using a combination of contemporary and historical data, together with a thorough examination of published research, we will use the same four-step process used in previous highly-cited published NRV reports to produce an NRV assessment for southern California’s montane forests. These steps include: 1) determining key ecosystem elements (e.g., functions/processes, structures/patterns, composition); 2) identifying measurable indicators for those ecosystem elements (e.g., fire frequency, tree density, species diversity); 3) estimating values for the indicators over the selected NRV reference period; and 4) comparing current and projected future conditions to NRV. Once completed, we will publish and diffuse the results of our assessment to ensure that scientists, land managers, tribal groups, government agencies and the full range of public and private stakeholders have access to and understand the utility of this resource. We expect it to serve as the principal baseline for quantifying the impacts to these forests from threats like climate change and wildfire, as well as an ecological reference point for developing conservation strategies and gauging the success of threat reduction efforts.
No publications at this time.