Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Journal of Environmental Management 183 (2016) 343-352

doi 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.07.054


US government work.


Management of natural resources for the production of ecosystem services, which are vital for human well-being, is necessary even when there is uncertainty regarding system response to management action. This uncertainty is the result of incomplete controllability, complex internal feedbacks, and nonlinearity that often interferes with desired management outcomes, and insufficient understanding of nature and people. Adaptive management was developed to reduce such uncertainty. We present a framework for the application of adaptive management for ecosystem services that explicitly accounts for cross-scale tradeoffs in the production of ecosystem services. Our framework focuses on identifying key spatiotemporal scales (plot, patch, ecosystem, landscape, and region) that encompass dominant structures and processes in the system, and includes within- and cross-scale dynamics, ecosystem service tradeoffs, and management controllability within and across scales. Resilience theory recognizes that a limited set of ecological processes in a given system regulate ecosystem services, yet our understanding of these processes is poorly understood. If management actions erode or remove these processes, the system may shift into an alternative state unlikely to support the production of desired services. Adaptive management provides a process to assess the underlying within and cross-scale tradeoffs associated with production of ecosystem services while proceeding with management designed to meet the demands of a growing human population.