DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
Chapters:Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11IntroductionCase StudiesAcknowledgements
Chapter 8: The Effects of Natural and Man-Made Disturbances

Management Implications

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: Fred Powledge)

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.

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About This Chapter's Author
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.

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