An integrated framework for science-based arid land management

J. E. Herrick, B. T. Bestelmeyer, S. Archer, A. J. Tugel, J. R. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Science is frequently touted as the solution to dryland management problems, yet most management decisions are, by necessity, based primarily on expert knowledge and experience. This paper describes an integrated framework for organizing, synthesizing, and applying our growing understanding of aridland ecosystems using a flexible, multi-objective assessment, monitoring, and management approach. The framework is dual-purpose: (1) to coordinate the use of existing tools, resources, and diffuse knowledge, and (2) to facilitate the integration and application of new knowledge as it is developed. In particular, this framework must facilitate the integration of new knowledge about linkages among landscape units across scales. The framework includes five elements: (1) an ecological site-based approach for categorizing land based on soils and climate, (2) a repository for organizing existing data and knowledge about each ecological site, (3) conceptual models that organize information on the impacts of management and climate variability, and protocols for (4) assessing and (5) monitoring key ecosystem attributes fundamental to a variety of management objectives. Within this framework, basic and applied research are explicitly linked to management of arid and semi-arid ecosystems to more effectively articulate research questions and set research priorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-335
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Adaptive management
  • Ecological site descriptions
  • Natural resource management
  • Rangelands
  • Thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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