In any natural area, the seasonally changing needs and interactions of each individual species from the microbiota to plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates are largely unknown. Completing individual management plans and actions for every species is patently unachievable. Accepting this complexity and uncertainty, we submit that returning the formative interactions of water, fire, and predation/herbivory are the keys to sustaining habitats for all species, even those for which we have absolutely no data. We also contend that management of the interactions of natural processes that support an entire flora and fauna can be resolved with guidance from “tuning” plant species. Tuning plant species are those most affected when natural processes are altered. Analogous to tuning a violin for the best sound or an engine to run smoothly, tuning plant species guide the adjustment of processes. Tuning plants can teach us how the interactions of natural processes work in ecological systems and give direction for management practices.
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Vol. 42 • No. 3