Is Cedar Invasion Simply an Issue for Ranchers?
The dust bowl is a well-known state transition where ecosystems transitioned from a productive state to an unproductive state. Like the dustbowl, Eastern redcedar invasion is causing a state transition in the Great Plains, but with very different impacts. The impacts of cedar invasion extend well beyond the expected consequences to ranching communities, including collapses in native biodiversity; increased risk to endangered species; decreased ability to control wildfires; loss of water resources; increased allergens; and loss of public school funding. Like the dust bowl, cedar invasion is tied to the culture of land management and can be solved by changing some key management practices.
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[00:00:04.410]One of the greatest challenges
[00:00:05.830]to the science of ecology today
[00:00:08.060]is how to better understand, better predict
[00:00:11.500]and to share knowledge on what happens when we go
[00:00:14.150]from one alternative state to another.
[00:00:16.420]So one of the best well known state transitions
[00:00:18.680]in the Great Plains is the Dust Bowl Era,
[00:00:22.040]where we went from a very productive system
[00:00:24.120]to an unproductive one tied to bare ground
[00:00:27.540]and that high period of change.
[00:00:29.780]We saw major changes in natural resources
[00:00:32.500]and ecosystem services.
[00:00:33.900]That's what happens in state transitions.
[00:00:36.787]The Eastern redcedar is one of the only species
[00:00:38.810]invading that's having large scale regional impact
[00:00:42.920]that result in major collapses in ecosystem services.
[00:00:46.600]Not the same ones as the Dust Bowl,
[00:00:48.430]they're different and they're novel
[00:00:50.260]just like it was with the Dust Bowl.
[00:00:52.900]The impacts of undergoing that type
[00:00:56.010]of transition are profound.
[00:00:58.250]We know that there's collapses in wildlife
[00:01:01.920]and biodiversity that are grassland species.
[00:01:05.140]There's increased risks of threatening endangered species,
[00:01:07.710]increased vulnerabilities to wildfire
[00:01:10.200]and an inability to suppress it,
[00:01:11.870]water stream flow collapses and
[00:01:14.310]new research being done on aquifer security
[00:01:17.530]and water quality challenges.
[00:01:19.320]Ties to allergies, ties to school funding.
[00:01:22.730]There's an extraordinary list that goes beyond
[00:01:25.810]just what people are thinking about
[00:01:28.070]in an environmental or conservation standpoint.
[00:01:31.160]It effects every citizen of the Great Plains
[00:01:34.300]in some complex way.
[00:01:36.200]We're seeing the loss of the Great Plains biome
[00:01:39.550]and much of how we live in this fifth
[00:01:42.080]of the United States is owed to what
[00:01:45.040]used to be a grassland system.
[00:01:48.980]When we start talking about changes in
[00:01:50.400]things that effect cities, like water and wildfire,
[00:01:53.740]allergies and school funding,
[00:01:55.880]we don't know of another species that does that.
[00:01:58.340]So it removes this idea that,
[00:02:01.020]ah, this doesn't need to be something
[00:02:02.480]that I worry about in urban areas.
[00:02:04.710]This is a rural impact.
[00:02:07.870]It's an environmental one, or a wild one.
[00:02:11.780]What's happening here is that things
[00:02:13.810]that are happening outside of cities
[00:02:15.210]are effecting things that we gain from nature,
[00:02:20.000]things that we thrive on from nature
[00:02:21.810]that effect our wellbeing.
[00:02:23.550]So there's not many species at all
[00:02:25.690]that have that kind of an impact.
[00:02:27.860]The Eastern redcedar is one of them.
[00:02:32.900]We should care, as society,
[00:02:34.800]because it's one that is tied to how we manage.
[00:02:38.100]It is not tied to something that is just happening to us,
[00:02:40.750]it is solvable.
[00:02:42.240]It is tied to the generation of
[00:02:46.030]hundreds of thousands of seedlings that we disperse,
[00:02:49.900]but don't have in place, control mechanisms,
[00:02:52.580]to prevent spread.
[00:02:54.420]So, it's a cultural management issue,
[00:02:58.030]yet we can solve it.
[00:02:59.280]And it'll effect future generations
[00:03:01.170]depending on how we act.
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