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

rk Service will summarize what scientists know about the effects of air pollution upon ecosystems in the western mountain ranges, including the coastal ranges of Southern California, in her presentation entitled, "Air Pollution: A Chronic Stressor in Western Mountains." Issues of concern include: visibility-reducing particles; the deposition of nitrogen and sulfur compounds; and ozone. Air pollution threats to species, biogeochemical processes, and human health will be outlined in her presentation. Emerging air pollution issues include elevated concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in snow, the influence of climate change on air pollution, and the effects of prescribed fire on air quality.

As dramatic shifts in land use occur throughout the region, the "Wild West" is quickly becoming the "New West." Andrew Hansen from Montana State University and Richard Knight from Colorado State University will consider the impact of this change in their presentation, "Land Use in the New West: Ecological and Socioeconomic Causes and Consequences." Where once land was used for resource extraction, now there is exurban residential development. In protected areas, these demographic changes are expressed in the rapid growth of recreation. Hansen and Knight will explore the causes of these changes and the consequences for ecosystem and community sustainability. The challenge for the New West, say the researchers, is to manage land use in order to sustain the ecosystem qualities that are attracting newcomers and stimulating the new economic expansion.

Daniel Fagre (USGS) will conclude the symposium with a presentation entitled, "Taking the Pulse of Mountains: Research and Monitoring Networks." Although mountains contribute 50% of the freshwater that humans consume and are home to one tenth of the world's population, they have been monitored and researched less than other ecosystems. But because mountains' steep environmental gradients make changes easi

Contact: Alison Gillespie
202-833-8773 ext.211
Ecological Society of America

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