Summary - What Did We Learn?

Heterogeneity is a critical factor to consider in ecosystem management. The degree of heterogeneity in landscapes depends on the grain and extent (refer to scale module) used by the observer. The type of heterogeneity (i.e. functional versus measured heterogeneity) is dependent on whether an observer uses scales that reflect a functional relationships versus an observer's perspective. Heterogeneity is now recognized as an important system characteristic to consider during the management process in light of recent environmental change across scales, but historically system managers have focused on reducing the variability in landscapes to make environments more predictable. This paradigm of the past requires intensive management of the ecosystem to fight the inherent heterogeneity driven by natural processes (e.g., flooding, fire, drought, etc.), and creates a risks of collapsing the ecosystem into an alternative state due to lack of variability and diversity, as well as unforeseen complications from oversimplifying the system. Considering heterogeneity when managing systems may lead to more resilient ecosystems with long-term functionality.