PROGRAM TITLE:	Impacts of Global Change on Terrestrial Ecosystems
ACTIVITY STREAMS:	Process, Observations/Data Mgmt., Modeling
SCIENCE ELEMENTS:	Ecological Systems and Dynamics, Earth System 
History, Climate/Hydrologic Systems, Biogeochemical Dynamics, Human 
Interactions, Solid Earth Processes

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

DESCRIPTION:  What have been and will be the impacts of human-induced 
or natural global change on regional terrestrial ecosystems remain significant 
concerns of resource managers, regional planners, and policy makers.  This 
program addresses the impacts of climate variability or change and interacting 
stresses on regional terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems represented in the 
National Parks, on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land 
Management, and in managed forests of the Indian Nations.  The program 
draws on the established infrastructure within the DOI for protected, natural 
and managed study sites, laboratory and support facilities, and information 
management.

The program supports ecological process studies and long-term 
measurements of ecological responses at the species, community, ecosystem, 
landscape, and biome level.  Projects are designed to:  (1) determine the 
response and sensitivity of  ecosystems and ecological processes to existing 
climate conditions and other environmental factors, (2) evaluate how global 
change may influence ecosystem dynamics, structure, function, habitat 
associations, populations, and long-term variability, resiliency, and 
productivity, and (3) assess approaches to sustain the productivity, health, and 
diversity of ecosystems through adaptation or mitigation.  Emphasis is on 
sensitive areas likely to provide early indications of climatic change (e.g., high 
latitude, arid to semi-arid, mid-continent, and coastal regions, relict 
communities, and ecotones).  Research projects are conducted in land 
management units, where researchers compare selected ecosystems at a 
variety of elevations,  latitudes, and climatic extremes and in areas of 
contrasting land uses, ranging from undisturbed wilderness areas to highly 
disturbed areas of resource development.  Analysis and evaluation of overall 
ecosystem responses using key indicator species, as well as ecosystem status 
and trends will provide the basis for identifying human and natural forcing 
factors and impacts of environmental change in particular biogeographic 
areas.

The NPS and BLM data management requirements and systems are in place 
or are being implemented.  Most data bases are indexed and available through 
the USGS and NASA.  The BIA, in cooperation with the Indian Nations, 
monitor more than 600,000 trees in 18,000 permanent fixed-radius forest 
inventory plots and currently maintain records spanning 20 to 30 years.

STAKEHOLDERS:  Data and information are available to all agencies and 
researchers in the USGCRP.  The NPS, BLM, and Indian Nations maintain 
protected research areas (some in the International Network of Biosphere 
Reserves) that are invaluable for researchers and for developing educational 
programs to foster public awareness of environmental issues.  Observations 
and data from this program improve understanding of processes in terrestrial 
ecosystems and the utility of models for predicting ecosystem responses at 
local and regional scales, including responses of ecotones.  The program will 
provide the NPS, BLM, Tribal Governments, and other ecosystem managers, 
regional planners, and policy makers a basis for assessing local to regional 
impacts of environmental change.  Partnerships and agreements are in place 
between DOI bureaus and with other federal agencies; various state, tribal, 
and foreign governments; and numerous universities.  The program 
contributes to the development of cooperative regional ecological research 
with other federal, state and local agencies, private and multi-sector groups, 
and academic institutions.

SHORT-TERM POLICY PAYOFFS:  Communication between researchers and 
managers facilitates early application of research results to resource 
management assessments.  Important results to date address the (1) role of 
fire and historical climate change in forest ecosystems, (2) improved capability 
for modelling the effects of climate variability or change at regional scale, (3) 
ability of native plants in arid ecosystems to compete with exotic species that 
may be favored by climatic change, (4) ability of watersheds to withstand the 
impacts of climate change and human stress.  Our research results and 
methods are providing baseline conditions and prototype procedures for 
long-term ecological monitoring that supports federal land management.  
Research results address the impacts of climate change and ozone depletion, 
biodiversity, deforestation, and desertification.  Monitoring and research in 
controlled sensitive ecosystems provide a network for early detection of 
change.

PROGRAM CONTACT:	Dr. Peter Comanor
	Global Change Program Coordinator
	National Biological Survey
	U.S. Department of the Interior
	1849 C Street, N.W.
	Mail Stop 725
	Washington, D.C.  20240
	Phone (703) 358-1710
	Fax (703) 358-2228