Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics ResearchTitle: Coordinated Approaches to Quantify Long-Term Ecosystem dynamics in Response to Global Change Author
Submitted to: Global Change Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/13/2010
Publication Date: 2/1/2011
Citation: Luo, Y., Melillo, J., Niu, S., Beier, C., Clark, J., Classen, A., Davidson, E., Dukes, J.S., Evans, R.D., Field, C., Czimczik, C.I., Kimball, B.A., Kueppers, L.M., Norby, R., Pelini, S.L., Pendall, E., Rastetter, E., Six, J., Smith, M., Tjoelker, M., Torn, M., 2011. Coordinated approaches to quantify long-term ecosystem dynamics in response to global change. Global Change Biology. 17:843-854. Interpretive Summary: The CO2 concentration of the atmosphere is increasing and air temperatures are rising world-wide over decadal and century time scales. Many soil processes and ecosystem species-replacement type processes also require such long time scales to adjust, yet most experiments to determine the likely effects of these changes on Earth’s biota are conducted only over a few years or growing seasons. This paper makes the case that in future global-change funding programs that higher priority be given to projects with longer than common durations and that they be coupled with an ecosystem modeling component that also addresses these long time scales. This research would benefit everyone because it addresses the sustainability of more natural as well as managed ecosystems.
Technical Abstract: Climate change and its impact on ecosystems are usually assessed at decadal and century time scales. Ecological responses to climate change at those scales are strongly regulated by long-term processes, such as changes in species composition, carbon dynamics in soil and by big trees, and nutrient regulations. It is essential to conduct decadal experiments to assess impacts of global change on ecosystems. But decadal global change experiments themselves may not be adequate because many long-term processes have characteristic time scales of even longer. This article promotes coordinated approaches that combine long-term global change experiments with process studies and modeling. Long-term global change experiments, especially in critical ecosystems such as tropical forests and high-latitude regions, are essential to maximize information gain on a future state of the earth system. The long-term experiments should be coordinated with process studies using model ecosystems, species replacements, laboratory incubation, growth-chambers, and greenhouse facilities among others. Models are essential to assimilate data from long-term experiments and process studies together with information from other sources. The latter sources include long-term observations, surveys, and space-for-time studies along environmental and biological gradients. Future research programs with coordinated long-term experiments, process studies, and modeling have the potential to be the most cost-effective strategy to gain the best information on long-term ecosystem dynamics in response to global change. Key words: Climate change, data analysis, earth system, experimentation, global change, process study, terrestrial ecosystems.