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Open-File Report 2014–1029

Prepared for the Southwest Climate Summit 2012

Improving Paleoecology Studies for Future Predictions—Role of Spatial and Temporal Scales for Understanding Ecology of the Arid and Semiarid Landscape of the Southwest

By David M. Miller, Gene-Hua Crystal Ng, and Katherine Maher

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (3.4 MB)Abstract

Paleoecology (or ecological biogeography) describes the past distribution of species or communities and is an informative path used to understand the future in the face of climate change. Paleoecological changes in the Southwest over the past several thousand years happened in the presence of landscape manipulations by humans, a factor that adds relevance but increases difficulty of interpretation. What paleo-records are needed for (1) understanding past climate-driven changes (climate proxies), (2) resolving species sensitivity to and resilience against change (biogeographical data), and (3) understanding past ecosystem function and changes (environmental data)? What information is most urgently needed for ecosystem forecasts, and are there kinds of monitoring we need to start now so that we will have ground truth in the near future? These are major questions. Answering them for the arid and semiarid landscape of the Southwest in part relies on careful thought about the spatial and temporal scales of data needed.

First posted February 18, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Contact Information, Geology, Minerals, Energy, & Geophysics Science Center—Menlo Park
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3591

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Suggested citation:

Miller, D.M., Ng, G-H.C., and Maher, K., 2014, Improving paleoecology studies for future predictions—Role of spatial and temporal scales for understanding ecology of the arid and semiarid landscape of the Southwest: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1029, 25 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)

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