U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Published in LANDSLIDE ECOLOGY (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), by Lawrence R. Walker (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and Aaron B. Shiels (USDA National Wildlife Research Center, Hila, Hawai’i).


This document is a U.S. government work, not subject to copyright in the United States.


1. The geological characteristics of landslides and their management as physical hazards are well documented. In contrast, the ecological processes that are initiated by landslides, and their relevance to efforts to restore stability to unstable slopes, have never been synthesized.

2. Landslides can cause intense human suffering and human activities can aggravate natural causes oflandslides. However, we can ameliorate many of the worst effects of landslides through improved prediction and restoration of landslides and adjoining slopes.

3. Landslides initiate many ecological processes at landscape to local scales, including the process of ecological succession. Although landslides have negative effects on the survival of many terrestrial and aquatic organisms, they also recycle nutrients and provide habitats for colonizing species.

4. Landslides encompass many types of gravity-driven movements of mass. A typical landslide often has material that falls, slides, and flows, thereby creating geologically and ecologically heterogeneous substrates. Landslides cause and are caused by other disturbances, an interaction that creates a disturbance regime.

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