Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - 31

CHAPtER 3

Concepts in Natural Resources Management

Source: US National Park Service

land again. Then the algae and water plants will be replaced by grasses and small
shrubs. After a few more years, cedars and small trees will dominate the area.
Later still, those will be replaced by taller trees until; eventually, the area will
become forested, perhaps with tall hardwood trees.
The term climax species implies eventual stability in ecosystems. If an ecosystem
were to become completely stable, as in the example just given, the species of plants
that would dominate the system would be known as the climax species. Of course,
as we have seen, there is no permanent climax species because no ecosystem is ever
truly stable forever. In the example of the pond that fills in and becomes a hardwood
forest, there will someday be a fire, a disease, a logger, an ice age, or something else
that changes the conditions of the ecosystem, and the whole process will start over.
An important concept in ecology is that of the biome. A biome can be thought
of as the biotic subsystem (living organisms) in an extensive ecosystem. When we
speak of biomes, we describe them in terms of their geography and of their climax
vegetation (Climax vegetation refers to the species of plants that eventually becomes
dominant in a given location if there are no major disturbances). The major biomes
are the Arctic, the Antarctic, tundra, deserts, coniferous forests, deciduous forests,
grasslands, the freshwater biome, and the marine biome. The study of the distribution and residents of the world's biomes is called biogeography.

31

FIguRE 3-5 this is a mature

forest in the the Flint ridge
section of california's
coastal train. the ecosystem
is relatively stable, i.e.
"balanced" for now. Disease
or fire could change that at
any time.

Balance of nature
We have all read or heard about the balance of nature, but is nature really balanced? If nature were perfectly balanced, there would be little change. As a gallon
of water flowed to the ocean, another gallon would evaporate and enter the hydrologic cycle. As one rabbit died, another would be born. Rivers would not change
their courses. Ice ages would never occur. Clearly these situations are not the case.
The forces of nature are constantly counteracting each other. The result is
a constant change of nature. Change is different from balance because balance
implies no change. The reality is that change in the environment is both continuous
and natural. What is important is that the changes in nature be gradual to allow
time for organisms such as humans to adapt to the changes. Gradual change is what
we are really talking about when we refer to a balance of nature. Please hold that
idea in mind whenever the term balance of nature is used in this book (Figure 3-6).

Source: US Fish and Wildlife Service

FIguRE 3-6 this prescribed

burn in the Bayou Sauvage
National Wildlife refuge in
Louisiana is changing the
ecosystem drastically. If the
ecosystem is left alone for a
natural succession, grasses
will return first, then shrubs,
then eventually trees.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp

Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover1
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover2
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - i
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iv
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - v
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - vii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - viii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ix
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - x
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xi
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xiii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xiv
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xv
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xvi
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xvii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xviii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ixx
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xx
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xxi
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xxii
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