Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011MT242B

Student Fellowship: Development and Testing of a Model that Assesses the Effects of the Stress of Climate Change on Ecosystem Condition

Institute: Montana
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $2,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $850

Principal Investigators: William Kleindl

Abstract: Ecosystems perform a suite of biogeochemical processes, are subject to physical fluxes and support dynamic biotic components. These biotic and abiotic processes and fluxes have collectively been referred to as ecosystem functions (Smith et al. 1995). Watershed managers are under increasing local, state and federal pressures to assess the condition of these functions in a rapid yet straightforward manner to facilitate applications for specific management actions (Barbour et al. 1999). However, because ecosystem functions often occur across multiple spatial and temporal scales, it is generally not possible to directly measure these functions within the limitations of a regulatory framework (i.e., short timeframe, highly limited budget). To address both time and financial constraints, parsimonious models (those models that provide ease of use and robust results with minimal complexity) have been developed using multiple metrics derived from referenced-based biotic and abiotic attributes (Stevenson and Hauer 2002). These metrics can be either positive indicators of structure and function or negative indicators of the loss of structure or function. Successful models composed of such metrics, are sensitive to a gradient of condition, and provide an assessment index of the ecosystem’s response to disturbance across a suite of biotic and abiotic factors.