The interaction between administrative jurisdiction and disturbance on public lands: Emerging socioecological feedbacks and dynamics

Clare Aslan, Sara Souther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Disturbance is one of the fundamental shapers of ecological communities, redistributing resources and resetting successional pathways. Human activities including resources management can influence disturbance regimes and trajectories by actively imposing or suppressing disturbance events or shaping ecosystem recovery via disturbance response. Furthermore, different management objectives may drive different disturbance responses. This suggests that the management jurisdiction to which a land parcel is assigned is likely to influence disturbance management and therefore ecological conditions within that parcel. Here, we combined two exploratory approaches to investigate this linkage. First, we used a systematic literature review to develop a typology of reported disturbance response types and strategies by federal land management agencies in the US. Second, we used Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plot data in five multi-jurisdictional ecosystems containing national parks to investigate the relationship between land ownership and large disturbance occurrence and between disturbance and tree growth rate. We found that agencies vary in the diversity of disturbance response tactics they are reported to employ, and disturbance types vary in the diversity of responses reported in the literature. Disturbance occurrence varied by land ownership type across the FIA dataset, and the direction of tree growth rate was influenced by the interaction between ownership type and disturbance occurrence in two of five examined ecosystems. Although our mixed methods approach was purely exploratory and not mechanistic, our findings suggest that disturbance response is one possible route by which management regimes may influence ecological conditions. Efforts to understand and predict ecological heterogeneity across large landscapes must consider variation in the social system as a potential contributor to such patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115682
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Coupled natural-human systems
  • Disease
  • Fire
  • Infrastructure
  • Insect outbreaks
  • Restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'The interaction between administrative jurisdiction and disturbance on public lands: Emerging socioecological feedbacks and dynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this