Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Spatial perspectives in state-and-transition models: a missing link to land management?

Buy Article:

$52.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

Summary

1. State-and-transition models (STMs) synthesize and communicate knowledge about the alternative states of an ecosystem and causes of state transitions. Data supported narrative descriptions within STMs are used to select or justify management actions. State transitions are characteristically heterogeneous in space and time, but spatial heterogeneity is seldom described in STMs, thereby limiting their utility.

2. We conducted a review that indicates how spatially explicit data can be used to improve STMs. We first identified three spatial scales at which spatial patterns and processes are manifest: patches, sites and landscapes. We then identified three classes of spatial processes that govern heterogeneity in state transitions at each scale and that can be considered in empirical studies, STM narratives and management interpretations.

3. First, spatial variations in land-use driver history (e.g. grazing use) can explain differences in the occurrence of state transitions within land areas that are otherwise uniform. Secondly, spatial dependence in response to drivers imposed by variations in soils, landforms and climate can explain how the likelihood of state transition varies along relatively static environmental gradients. Thirdly, state transition processes can be contagious, under control of vegetation-environment feedbacks, such that the spatiotemporal evolution of state transitions is predictable.

4. We suggest a strategy for considering each of the three spatial processes in the development of STM narratives. We illustrate how spatial data can be employed for describing early warning indicators of state transition, identifying areas that are most susceptible to state transitions, and designing and implementing monitoring schemes.

5.Synthesis and applications. State-and-transition models are increasingly important tools for guiding land-management activities. However, failure to adequately represent spatial processes in STMs can limit their ability to identify the initiation, risk and causes of state transitions and, therefore, the appropriate management responses. We suggest that multi-scaled studies targeted to different kinds of ecosystems can be used to uncover evidence of spatial processes. Such evidence should be included in STM narratives and can lead to novel interpretations of land change and improved management.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: Chihuahuan Desert; Iceland; contagion; monitoring; patch dynamics; regime shift; southern Great Plains; spatial dependence; thresholds

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA 2: School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2011

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more