Abstract: Outback Australia is characterised by variability in its resource drivers, particularly and most fundamentally, rainfall. Its biota has adapted to cope with this variability. The key strategies taken by desert organisms (and their weaknesses) help to identify the likely impacts of natural resource management by pastoralists and others, and potential remedies for these impacts. The key strategies can be summarised as five individual species’ responses (ephemerals, in-situ persistents, refuging persistents, nomads and exploiters), plus four key emergent modes of organisation involving multiple species that contribute to species diversity (facilitation, self-organising communities, asynchronous and micro-allopatric co-existence). A key feature of the difference between the strategies is the form of a reserve, whether roots and social networks for Persistents, or propagules or movement networks for Ephemerals and Nomads. With temporally and spatially varying drivers of soil moisture inputs, many of these strategies and their variants can co-exist. While these basic strategies are well known, a systematic analysis from first principles helps to generalise our understanding of likely impacts of management, if this changes the pattern of variability or interrupts the process of allocation to reserves. Nine resulting ‘weak points’ are identified in the system, and the implications of these are discussed for natural resource management and policy aimed at production or conservation locally, or the regional integration of the two.
Stafford Smith, DM, McAllister, RRJ, 2008, Managing arid zone natural resources in Australia for spatial and temporal variability – an approach from first principles, Volume:30, Journal Article, viewed 09 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4855.