Resilience in Quaking Aspen: restoring ecosystem processes through applied science
High Lonesome Ranch, De Beque, Colorado
June 27-28, 2012
See the workshop program here.
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) is an oasis of local diversity, a regional link in conservation corridors, and continentally our most widespread forest type. Its successful establishment across diverse landscapes and environmental extremes demonstrates adaptability as a species. However, recent reports of aspen decline suggest that current management strategies and changing ecological conditions may impose constraints on aspen resilience in some portions of its range. In contrast, other studies report areas in which aspen is persistent or expanding. Clearly the ecological conditions that influence the sustainability and function of aspen ecosystems are complex. How should we move forward given disparities in aspen’s perceived status, physical settings, compositional associates, and functional processes? The purposes of this symposium are to collectively, 1) gain an understanding of the “state of the science,” including identifying research gaps, in quaking aspen studies; 2) think more deeply about the critical questions ahead that that will better inform management and science; and 3) document findings and recommendations with a goal of communicating outcomes to wider audiences in several formats.
We chose the isolation and beauty of the High Lonesome Ranch to bring together key researchers and managers to synthesize the current knowledge of aspen ecology and explore critical knowledge gaps through presentations, synthesis, and goal-oriented discussion. Though we will emphasize topics that have received a lot of attention of late—succession/disturbance dynamics and aspen/ungulate interactions—we also wish to address less well known subjects covering a range from basic to applied and physical to social realms. Our method will be “starter talks,” follow-up discussion, and synthesis sessions. Additionally, A special issue of review papers from the symposium will be published in Forest Ecology and Management in the coming year. Published papers will follow a similar format as presentations, though we are hopeful that relevant issues raised here will modify final submissions. Less formally, a field excursion, meals, breaks, and free time will allow ample opportunity for individual and group interaction.
The genesis of this symposium stems from past efforts to bring members of the Western Aspen Alliance (WAA) Science Advisory Panel (SAP) together in a single location. Our belief was that if we could get an interdisciplinary team of “key players” into the field, we could advance aspen sciences simply by facilitating novel idea exchange, as well as personal connections. Secondarily, we hoped to make significant headway in prioritizing key research issues facing land managers and aspen researchers….an ongoing SAP task. From the outset we felt a relatively small group, ideally in a secluded setting, would provide the atmosphere to best accomplish these goals. The current assembly still adheres to these objectives. Your active participation here, with a bit of rumination time, will ultimately decide whether this approach is fruitful.