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The 24 papers in this issue of Northwest Science summarize research and management presented at a 2010 meeting convened by the Cascadia Prairie-Oak Partnership, a collaboration focusing on the prairie/oak ecosystems of the Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin ecoregion. We present an overview that builds on these papers to consider future threats and conservation priorities in these systems. Human population growth, encroachment by woody vegetation, the spread of invasive non-native organisms, and climatic changes all will provide future challenges. Developing and implementing techniques to abate these threats will require effective collaboration, creative research, and innovative management of natural areas. One priority will be the restoration of highly degraded habitats to increase acreage of native ecosystems, create buffers, and enhance connectivity. Other priorities will focus on detecting and eradicating newly-arrived invasives, enhancing species diversity and habitat heterogeneity, and increasing ecological resilience. Long-term commitments and investments are critical. Developing realistic restoration goals will be particularly challenging, especially when assembling new communities from the ground up, and in a world with a rapidly changing climate. To assist with goal development, we propose a system for conceptualizing restoration goals so that their relative merits can be more easily compared when deciding amongst them. We suggest evaluating goals along two continua, one related to management intensity (ecological goals) and the other to ecological impacts (cultural goals). We conclude by suggesting some specific restoration and management principles that may help to further guide conservation action, and that point toward critical information needs for future research.
Links to the 24 articles listed below:
Dunwiddie, P.W. and Bakker, J.D. 2011. The future of restoration and management of prairie-oak ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. Northwest Science. 85(2): 83-92.