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Taking the pulse of giants: Detecting change and its consequences in western mountain ecosystems

To many people, mountains represent the very essence of the American Wild West. Breathtakingly beautiful, seemingly impenetrable, and staggeringly large, Western mountains loom like giants on the horizon. But in spite of their awesome qualities, the Cascades, the Sierra Nevada, and the Rockies are all currently experiencing a great deal of stress as a result of more than a century of habitation and resource extraction by humans. On Sunday, August 6, 2000, some members of the Ecological Society of America will explore the ecological implications and causes of this stress in a symposium entitled, "Stressors in Western Mountain Ecosystems: Detecting Change and Its Consequences." The session, which will be held during the Society's Annual Meeting in Snowbird, Utah, will examine specific stressors and their effects on these ranges.

David Peterson from the US Geological Survey (USGS) will begin the session with a presentation entitled, "Taking a Pulse of the Mountains: Stress and Ecosystem Change in the 20th Century." Stressors that significantly impact mountain ecosystems include climatic variability, exotic species, air pollution, and land use. Most ecological analyses, Peterson says, are typically conducted at small spatial scales. This makes the detection of mountain problems a real challenge. During the last decade, however, research focused on monitoring, synthesis and modeling of ecological situations in the Cascades, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada has increased. Peterson will outline the ways in which this has helped to quantify many of the stress effects on natural resources at regional and sub-continental scales. Peterson will also address how the detection of environmental change will challenge land managers and policymakers in the next few years.

As the second speaker in the session, Lisa Graumlich from Montana State University will present "1000 years of Climate Change and Ecological Response in Western Montane Forests." Grauml
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Contact: Alison Gillespie
alison@esa.org
202-833-8773 ext.211
Ecological Society of America
5-Aug-2000


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