April 23, 2014

Topic Descriptions

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General Topic Area Descriptions

Adaptive Management of Conservation Efforts

In adaptive management, means are adjusted in response to measures of the end-conditions sought. Adaptive management for soil and water conservation means finding indicators of changes in the conditions of the soil, water, and biodiversity, and relating them back to natural resource management practices. Papers are sought on projects that have utilized adaptive management strategies to enhance the provision of ecosystem services. Specific topics may include but are not limited to: improvement of soil and water quality; techniques for measuring changes in soil and water quality in response to management actions; how traditional measures have changed in the light of climate change and the presence of more extreme weather events; the development and use of indicators of change in resource/ecological condition including biodiversity conservation and management, scientific and technical advances in targeting conservation and in precision conservation; building the human dimension into conservation; and environmental risk assessment and management.

Biodiversity Conservation and Management

Fish, wildlife, plants and other life forms are essential components of earth's ecosystems. They provide food, fiber and energy; they process nutrients and chemical pollutants; they provide economically important hunting, angling and ecotourism opportunities; and they provide cultural and aesthetic benefits that cannot be replaced. Examples of topics in this section are: restoration of declining or important native fish and wildlife habitats, impacts of invasive species on fish and wildlife habitats; conservation of native pollinators; the risks and effects of climate change on fish, wildlife, and biodiversity; and methods and methodological challenges in biodiversity valuation. We welcome papers addressing agricultural, urbanizing, and urban landscapes.

Conservation and Environmental Policy and Program Design

Conservation and environmental policies influence the provision of ecosystem services. Policy and decision makers, planners and land owners rely upon evaluation of programs and policies to provide valuable information to stimulate change and reform of existing conservation and environmental policies. Topics may include but are not limited to: policy evaluation and reform of voluntary, regulatory, and market-based approaches; program evaluation and reform; use and effectiveness of international conventions and agreements; conservation implications of trade agreements and dispute resolution processes; quantifying benefits of policies and programs; nutrient trading and programs for implementation; biodiversity conservation; implications of the farm bill; monitoring and assessment of conservation needs and benefits; accountability and performance measurement.

Conservation Outreach and Education

Conservation outreach and education submissions should address the focus and delivery of information and incentives that promote and maintain ecosystem services. Topics may include but are not limited to: programs and practices for engaging farmers and rural property owners, including absentee property owners; opportunities and challenges associated with social marketing and other targeted behavior change methods; programs that foster watershed and landscape scale decision-making; and conservation outreach and education programs for K-12 audiences in rural and urban settings; and research on the effectiveness of conservation outreach and education efforts.

Conservation in Urban Settings

The majority of our population lives in urban and suburban areas, which are growing at a rapid pace worldwide. Conservation practices in these settings are primarily designed to reduce erosion, create and conserve green spaces, and preserve or improve habitat and water quality. Presentations in this topic area may describe research and demonstration projects, new designs and methodology, new programs for enforcement and education, and similar subjects of interest in urban settings. Topics may include but are not limited to: land use and community planning and zoning, farmland and open-space protection; integrated urban watershed management and planning; urban storm water management and planning; erosion and sediment control systems; systems to improve water quality; innovations in conservation designs and education; low impact development.

Conservation Tools and Technologies

In the implementation, planning, management, and development of conservation practices, we rely on tools that provide decision support through analysis, visualization, and evaluation. Development of new tools and technologies, evaluation results, and application experiences all can provide information of value to share. Topics may include but are not limited to: development and testing of conservation practices and systems; quantification of the environmental and conservation effects of best management practices (BMPs) and systems; advances in science and technology for predicting and/or evaluating environmental and conservation effects of alternative resource management practices and systems (soil, water, nutrient, grazing, manure, pest, plant and landscape management); decision support tools for conservation planning and implementation; biodiversity conservation; geographic information systems.

Soil Resources and Management

The use of soil resources is required to provide the food, fiber, and energy needs of a growing world population. Problems of soil and environmental degradation have made the development of technologies and practices for sustainable soil management a high priority. Papers are invited that present research results, experiences, demonstration projects, simulation models, or other knowledge and information regarding soil resource management that enhance production while protecting our soil, water and air resources. Topics may include but are not limited to: soil conservation and management; soil quality; soil survey, assessment, and analysis; soil quality assessment and management; cover crops; water and wind erosion prediction and management; carbon sequestration; implications of climate change for soil conservation and management. Authors submitting in this area should choose from one of the following soil-related categories:

Soil Resource Assessment: resource assessment, including presentations dealing with spatial/temporal variability of soil properties and processes, soil survey and analysis, and soil quality.

Soil Resource Management and Conservation: resource management impacts on carbon sequestration, erosion processes, and the implications of climate and land-use changes on soil resources.

Water Resources and Management

This area addresses the social, economic, environmental, and technical dimensions of water resources management. Presentations in this area should serve to disseminate results, information, lessons learned, and/or shared experiences of research, testing, monitoring, and/or evaluation/demonstration projects on water resources issues. Topics may include but are not limited to: watershed management and restoration; integrated watershed management; water quantity and supply; water quality; irrigation and drainage; water conservation; watershed-scale research methods and tools; watershed-scale planning methods and tools; development and implementation of TMDLs; implications for biodiversity conservation; targeting water management interventions; risk management in water resource management; implications of climate change for water resource conservation and management.

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