A serious disturbance. Strip mines (often
called "surface mines" by their practitioners)
are among the most visible of humancaused
environmental disturbances. This
one, in southern Maryland, formerly was
devoted to pasture and row crops. (Photo:
Management should be guided by ecological principles and approximate as near
as possible ecologically appropriate disturbance regimes, while never neglecting
the overarching need to support the military mission. In many cases, restoration
of natural disturbance regimes has a positive long-term effect (Van Lear et al.
2005). Special care must be taken, of course, if there are threatened and endangered
species involved. Restoration of ecological communities that have long been
modified by anthropogenic activities or invasion of exotic species may not necessarily
have the intended result or immediately positive consequences. For example,
Varner et al. (2000) found that re-introduction of fire to a longleaf pine
forest after many years of fire exclusion and organic matter buildup led to an unforeseen
high mortality of large longleaf pines. In areas long degraded by fire suppression,
repeated burns may be necessary (Heuberger and Putz 2003). Another
challenge for land managers is simulating natural disturbances on small parcels
of land in a highly fragmented and human-dominated landscape although one
advantage of military installations may be that fragmentation and development
are less of a problem than on surrounding, non-military lands. Incorporating disturbance
regimes that approximate historic natural disturbances into management
schemes should help to improve and maintain structure and function of the
disturbance-dependent communities. Doing so, however, may be controversial
and demands a great deal of planning and forethought.
Proceed to: Chapter 9 - Show Me the Money
Steve Orzell is a botanist/ecologist at Avon Park Air Force Range.
William J. Platt is a professor of population biology/ecology at Louisiana State University.
to view literature cited in this chapter.
to download Chapter 8 as a PDF.