Líffræðifélag Íslands - biologia.is
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2017

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster E44

Applying state-and-transition models to rangelands in Iceland: developing a framework for grazing research

Höfundar / Authors: Isabel C BARRIO (1,2), David S HIK (3), Johann THÓRSSON (4), Kristín SVAVARSDÓTTIR (4), Bryndís MARTEINSDÓTTIR (4), Ingibjörg Svala JÓNSDÓTTIR (1,5)

Starfsvettvangur / Affiliations: 1. Institute of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, 2. Agricultural University of Iceland, 3. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, 4. Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, 5. University Centre in Svalbard

Kynnir / Presenter: Isabel C Barrio

Current landscapes in Iceland have been shaped by natural processes associated with harsh environmental conditions and frequent volcanic activity, and by human influence, through clear-cutting and livestock grazing. Large grazing animals were introduced to Iceland by the first Norse settlers in the IX century, and their impacts have been linked to the extensive soil erosion and range degradation that we see today especially in the Highlands and within the volcanic active zone. Sheep grazing is a primary economic activity but the ecological impacts of past and current grazing practices have not been thoroughly evaluated and environmental monitoring programs are not yet in place. State-and-transition models (STMs) can provide an adaptive framework for understanding the ecology of complex ecosystems and guide research and management efforts. The development of STMs to northern rangelands has been limited, despite their successful application to other ecosystems worldwide. Integrating the best available knowledge, we have developed an STM for rangelands in Iceland for three time periods with different historical human influence, from pre-settlement to present days. This approach provides a deeper understanding of the set of states, transitions and thresholds in these ecosystems, and provides a framework for research into the social and ecological processes driving the system and can facilitate setting specific and measurable goals for management and restoration.