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Volume 27
Number 3
Winter 2010-2011
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Schematic diagram of the syndromes concept Science Feature
Defining resource stressor syndromes in southwestern national parks

By Kristina Monroe Bishop, Lisa J. Graumlich, and William L. Halvorson
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
Syndromes approach
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Diagram of the syndromes concept

(Above) Diagram of the syndromes concept.

Researchers have increasingly focused on the interactions and connections between ecosystems and humans. Through the greater use of resources, increases in pollution, and changes in land use, humans have changed the ecosystems around them. Human activities such as urbanization and intensification of agriculture lead to an increase in road and housing density, oil and gas usage, and necessary infrastructure such as utility transmission corridors. While it is clear that such shifts in land and resource use impact our environment, current research shows that linking the changing population to specific ecosystem change is not simple (Meyer 1996; Harte 2007). Measuring these impacts in protected areas provides an additional layer of complexity, as the source of the ecosystem stress is often found off-site. Although those who manage protected areas, such as the National Park Service (NPS), understand there is a link between encroaching human populations and a change in ecosystem health of the protected area, untangling specific causes of change has proven difficult. With this in mind we aimed to develop a conceptual framework for using available social, economic, and environmental indicators to give land managers new tools for understanding the potential ecological ramifications (effects) to park resources of adjacent socioeconomic stressors (causes). What emerged from this process was the “syndromes” approach. This is a new method for categorizing impacts to park ecosystems that moves away from trying to find one-to-one relationships between socioeconomic factors and ecosystem changes in protected areas. Establishing such relationships is extremely difficult and we therefore suggest this holistic approach to gaining insight into how socioeconomic factors effect park ecosystem changes. When one or more syndromes are found to be influencing a protected area, the protected area would benefit by monitoring the factors involved, such as encroaching development, mining, ranching, and public use.

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This page updated:  22 February 2011

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From the Editor
In This Issue
Information Crossfile
Science Notes
Park Operations
Field Moment
Masthead Information
Building partnerships to restore an urban marsh ecosystem at Gateway National Recreation Area
  Defining resource stressor syndromes in southwestern national parks
On the application of the cyberinfrastructure model for efficiently monitoring invasive exotic species
Greater sage-grouse of Grand Teton National Park
An innovative method for nondestructive analysis of cast iron artifacts at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
Sidebar: Hopewell Furnace
Integrating traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) into natural resource management
The benefits of live interpretive programs to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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