Compilation by Robyn Darbyshire

Carvalho-Santos, C., J. P. Honrado, et al. (2014). “Hydrological services and the role of forests: Conceptualization and indicator-based analysis with an illustration at a regional scale.” Ecological Complexity 20(0): 69-80.

Forests are among the most important ecosystems for the provision of hydrological services. These include water supply and water damage mitigation, in the dimensions of quantity, timing and quality. Although the hydrological role of forests is well documented in the literature, a conceptual framework integrating these three dimensions is still missing. In this study, a comprehensive conceptual framework to improve the assessment of hydrological services provided by forests was developed. In addition, the framework was tested by an illustration for northern Portugal, a region with both Mediterranean and Atlantic climatic influences. The TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) framework of ecosystem services was adapted to the relation between forests and water. Then, this new framework was complemented with a set of spatially-explicit indicators that quantify the supply and demand of hydrological services. In addition, the implications of the framework were discussed in the context of the social-ecological systems, using the DPSIR (Drivers, Pressures, State, Impacts, and Responses) model. Finally, the framework and the indicators were illustrated for northern Portugal using the water supply (quantity) and soil erosion control as examples. Results show that the proposed conceptual framework is a useful tool to support land planning and forest management, adapting the provision of hydrological services to the regional biophysical and social conditions. The test of the framework across a heterogeneous region suggests that a spatially explicit combination of system property, function, service and benefit indicators can be an effective way of analysing and managing the supply and demand of the hydrological services.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1476945X14000932


Moody, J. A. and B. A. Ebel (2014). “Infiltration and runoff generation processes in fire-affected soils.” Hydrological Processes 28(9): 3432-3453.

Post-wildfire runoff was investigated by combining field measurements and modelling of infiltration into fire-affected soils to predict time-to-start of runoff and peak runoff rate at the plot scale (1 m2). Time series of soil-water content, rainfall and runoff were measured on a hillslope burned by the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire west of Boulder, Colorado during cyclonic and convective rainstorms in the spring and summer of 2011. Some of the field measurements and measured soil physical properties were used to calibrate a one-dimensional post-wildfire numerical model, which was then used as a ‘virtual instrument’ to provide estimates of the saturated hydraulic conductivity and high-resolution (1 mm) estimates of the soil-water profile and water fluxes within the unsaturated zone. Field and model estimates of the wetting-front depth indicated that post-wildfire infiltration was on average confined to shallow depths less than 30 mm. Model estimates of the effective saturated hydraulic conductivity, Ks, near the soil surface ranged from 0.1 to 5.2 mm h−1. Because of the relatively small values of Ks, the time-to-start of runoff (measured from the start of rainfall),  tp, was found to depend only on the initial soil-water saturation deficit (predicted by the model) and a measured characteristic of the rainfall profile (referred to as the average rainfall acceleration, equal to the initial rate of change in rainfall intensity). An analytical model was developed from the combined results and explained 92–97% of the variance of tp, and the numerical infiltration model explained 74–91% of the variance of the peak runoff rates. These results are from one burned site, but they strongly suggest that tp in fire-affected soils (which often have low values of Ks) is probably controlled more by the storm profile and the initial soil-water saturation deficit than by soil hydraulic properties.

FULL TEXT LINK:   http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hyp.9857


Podolak, C. J. P. (2014). “A visual framework for displaying, communicating and coordinating a river restoration monitoring project.” River Research and Applications 30(4): 527-535.

A visual framework to display complex river restoration monitoring plans is proposed. The framework provides for four dimensions of information—spatial coverage, and the frequency, density and type of measurement to be evaluated—in a concise and transparent fashion. It is not only useful as a display and communication tool but also facilitates identification of overlaps, gaps and inefficiencies. The visual framework is particularly useful for coordinating multiple monitoring efforts and for communicating or negotiating modifications. An example application of the framework is presented using the multi-year monitoring effort surrounding the removal of the Marmot Dam from the Sandy River, OR.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rra.2651


Kane, V. R., J. A. Lutz, et al. (2015). “Water balance and topography predict fire and forest structure patterns.” Forest Ecology and Management 338: 1-13.

Mountainous topography creates fine-scale environmental mosaics that vary in precipitation, temperature, insolation, and slope position. This mosaic in turn influences fuel accumulation and moisture and forest structure. We studied these the effects of varying environmental conditions across a 27,104 ha landscape within Yosemite National Park, California, USA, on the number of fires and burn severity (measured from Landsat data for 1984–2010) and on canopy cover at two heights (>2 m and 2–8 m) and dominant tree height (measured with airborne LiDAR data). We used site water balance (actual evapotranspiration and climatic water deficit) and topography (slope position, slope, and insolation) as environmental predictors. Random forest modeling showed that environmental conditions predicted substantial portions of the variations in fire and forest structure: e.g., 85–93% of the variation in whether a location did not burn, burned once, or burned twice; 64% of the variation in the burn severity; and 72% of the variation in canopy cover >2 m for unburned forests, 64% for once-burned forests, and 59% for twice-burned forests. Environmental conditions also predicted a substantial portion of forest structure following one and two fires, even though the post-fire forest structures were substantially different than pre-fire structures. This suggests a feedback mechanism in which local fire regimes and pre-fire forest structures are related to local environments, and their interaction produces post-fire structures also related to local environments. Among environmental predictors, water balance had the greatest explanatory power, followed by slope position, and then by slope and insolation. Managers could use our methods to help select reference areas that match environmental conditions, identify areas at risk for fires that endanger critical habitat or other resources, and identify climate analog areas to help anticipate and plan for climate change.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112714006203


Martinuzzi, S., V. C. Radeloff, et al. (2015). “Scenarios of future land use change around United States’ protected areas.” Biological Conservation 184: 446-455.

Land use change around protected areas can diminish their conservation value, making it important to predict future land use changes nearby. Our goal was to evaluate future land use changes around protected areas of different types in the United States under different socioeconomic scenarios. We analyzed econometric-based projections of future land use change to capture changes around 1260 protected areas, including National Forests, Parks, Refuges, and Wilderness Areas, from 2001 to 2051, under different land use policies and crop prices. Our results showed that urban expansion around protected areas will continue to be a major threat, and expand by 67% under business-as-usual conditions. Concomitantly, a substantial number of protected areas will lose natural vegetation in their surroundings. National land-use policies or changes in crop prices are not likely to affect the overall pattern of land use, but can have effects in certain regions. Discouraging urbanization through zoning, for example, can reduce future urban pressures around National Forests and Refuges in the East, while the implementation of an afforestation policy can increase the amount of natural vegetation around some Refuges throughout the U.S. On the other hand, increases in crop prices can increase crop/pasture cover around some protected areas, and limit the potential recovery of natural vegetation. Overall, our results highlight that future land-use change around protected areas is likely to be substantial but variable among regions and protected area types. Safeguarding the conservation value of protected areas may require serious consideration of threats and opportunities arising from future land use.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320715000828