Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Pennsylvania
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Pennsylvania Project

Trans-boundary management and conservation: linking large-scale dynamics to ecological monitoring and management

October 2012 - September 2014


Participating Agencies

  • US Geological Survey

A central challenge to natural resource management is to understand and predict ecological responses to management and environmental change over large spatial scales. It is recognized, however, that the management and conservation of many important ecological systems and the services they provide must be addressed at spatial scales that transcend jurisdictional and political boundaries. For example Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) recognize that managing natural resources is complex and requires landscape-scale (i.e., trans-boundary) approaches. Although trans-boundary approaches are necessary to understand large-scale phenomenon (e.g., species range), it remains unclear in many cases how best to address the inherent complexities in managing ecosystems at large (e.g., regional) spatial scales. In addition to challenges associated with performing trans-boundary research, it is often unclear how to link large-scale system dynamics with on-the-ground decision-making processes, which are often done using adaptive management principles. For example, a critical component for successfully implementing adaptive management is the development of a rigorous monitoring program, which provides a critical feedback loop for learning about system dynamics. It is unclear, however, how the interplay between components acting at different, hierarchical scales will affect the ability of natural resource managers to detect changes in important state variables (e.g., animal abundance, occupancy, etc.) at trans-boundary spatial scales. Thus, our overarching objective is to use freshwater stream fish populations as model systems to develop a framework and tools for addressing the inherent challenges in performing trans-boundary research and for linking large-scale dynamics to ecological monitoring and management.