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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Articles

Changes on the Range: Exploring Climate Change with Range Managers


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 76-86
    Received: Dec 12, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): Crimmins@u.arizona.edu
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  1. Michael A. Crimmins *a,
  2. George Zaimesb,
  3. Niina Haasc,
  4. Christopher K. Jonesd,
  5. Gregg Garfinc and
  6. Theresa M. Crimminse
  1. a Dep. of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, Univ. of Arizona, P.O. Box 210038, Tucson, AZ 85721
    b School of Natural Resources, Univ. of Arizona, 325 Biological Sciences East, Tucson, AZ 85721
    c Climate Assessment for the Southwest, 715 N. Park Avenue (2nd Floor), Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
    d Gila County Coop. Ext., Univ. of Arizona, Globe Office, 5515 S. Apache Ave., Suite 600, Globe, AZ 85502-4367
    e Office of Arid Lands Studies, Univ. of Arizona, 1955 E. Sixth St., Tucson, AZ 85719


In the southwestern United States, climate variability strongly influences range conditions and thus is an important factor in range managers’ land management decisions. Access to cutting-edge climate and range science information is vital for managers to make better short and long-term decisions. To engage land management practitioners and scientists in communicating about climate change and range science concepts, an experiential learning exercise was implemented at a recent meeting of land managers and scientists. Within a state and transition model framework, participants explored potential trajectories for rangeland management units under a changing climate. Small groups collectively managed a 400-hectare (1000-acre) parcel of land given financial constraints and environmental disturbances determined by chance for six decision periods, representing 60 years. In each round, groups discussed potential changes to and transitions of their parcel based on the interaction between initial state, disturbances, and the decade-by-decade climate time series data provided. The groups enacted management strategies based on trying to keep the parcel in the current state or trying to move the parcel to a more favored state. Evaluation results indicate that the exercise was useful in facilitating small group discussions between scientists and managers on the complex interactions between short-term climate variability, longer-term changes, and management decisions at all time-scales. Additionally, participants’ knowledge and comfort levels with state and transition models significantly increased following the exercise. With minor adaptations, the exercise could be implemented in any part of the country and for use by college courses studying land management issues.

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