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Open AccessArticle

Toward a Social-Ecological Theory of Forest Macrosystems for Improved Ecosystem Management

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Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, 334 Leon Johnson Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
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Department of Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences, University of Wisconsin, 1225 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53706, USA
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Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, 685 Commonwealth Ave Rm 130, Boston, MA 02215, USA
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Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Colorado State University, 1472 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, PO Box 870344, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
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U.S. Geological Survey Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, 2327 University Ave., Ste. 2, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(4), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9040200
Received: 6 March 2018 / Revised: 29 March 2018 / Accepted: 2 April 2018 / Published: 11 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
The implications of cumulative land-use decisions and shifting climate on forests, require us to integrate our understanding of ecosystems, markets, policy, and resource management into a social-ecological system. Humans play a central role in macrosystem dynamics, which complicates ecological theories that do not explicitly include human interactions. These dynamics also impact ecological services and related markets, which challenges economic theory. Here, we use two forest macroscale management initiatives to develop a theoretical understanding of how management interacts with ecological functions and services at these scales and how the multiple large-scale management goals work either in consort or conflict with other forest functions and services. We suggest that calling upon theories developed for organismal ecology, ecosystem ecology, and ecological economics adds to our understanding of social-ecological macrosystems. To initiate progress, we propose future research questions to add rigor to macrosystem-scale studies: (1) What are the ecosystem functions that operate at macroscales, their necessary structural components, and how do we observe them? (2) How do systems at one scale respond if altered at another scale? (3) How do we both effectively measure these components and interactions, and communicate that information in a meaningful manner for policy and management across different scales? View Full-Text
Keywords: macrosystem; macroscale; forest; management; ecosystem function; ecosystem service; cross-scale; trade-off; governance; social-ecological system macrosystem; macroscale; forest; management; ecosystem function; ecosystem service; cross-scale; trade-off; governance; social-ecological system
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Kleindl, W.J.; Stoy, P.C.; Binford, M.W.; Desai, A.R.; Dietze, M.C.; Schultz, C.A.; Starr, G.; Staudhammer, C.L.; Wood, D.J.A. Toward a Social-Ecological Theory of Forest Macrosystems for Improved Ecosystem Management. Forests 2018, 9, 200.

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