1. Drivers of long-term changes in biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and ecosystem functions
While the number of studies on long-term changes in biodiversity has increased significantly over the years these studies often involve “popular” species groups such as birds, butterflies or amphibians. Beside this taxonomic bias, many studies lack data on environmental drivers (e.g. changes in land use) that explain the observed changes. Furthermore, effects on ecosystem integrity or key ecosystem functions are rarely addressed. This session will focus on long-term changes in biodiversity, the drivers of change, and the consequences of biodiversity change on ecosystem integrity and key ecosystem functions.
2. Climate change impact on ecosystem processes
Climate changes, such as warming, altered precipitation, and intensification of extreme events, will affect most ecosystem processes, including carbon and nutrient cycling and element fluxes. For example, the fluxes of greenhouse gases (GHG, i.e. CO2, CH4 and N2O) are sensitive to changes in the water table and other hydrological processes. This session will deal with climate change impacts on ecosystem processes and GHG fluxes at various spatial and temporal scales.
3. Altered nutrient cycles and environmental pollution
While emissions and depositions of sulfur have been very successfully controlled, reductions in nitrogen deposition has been less successful, and excess nitrogen loading remains a major threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functions over large areas. By affecting ecosystem productivity, atmospheric nitrogen pollution also impacts carbon sinks and processes. Ecosystem productivity is also limited by other nutrients (e.g. P, base cations) where there are anthropogenic effects on natural loadings. This session will examine pollution impacts on nutrient and element dynamics as well as interactions between different compounds.
4. Advances in long-term socio-ecological research and sustainability science
Addressing global environmental challenges requires the integration of multiple disciplinary approaches drawn from the natural, physical and social sciences. Furthermore, integration of stakeholders is a crucial element of research that is relevant for policy, planning and management. Transdisciplinary research methods are continually being examined and refined to increase their effectiveness. This session addresses three crucial issues in socio-ecological research:
1) The inherent challenges in scaling up place-based research;
2) New methodologies for integrating stakeholders into research for sustainability;
3) Assessment of transdisciplinary socio-ecological research – how do we know when and where its working?
5. New methods, technology and innovative science support services
The rapid development of sensor, remote sensing and molecular biology technologies provide exiting new possibilities for detection and monitoring of ecosystem processes and species changes. Linking of data from different spatial scales and topics will become increasingly efficient. The development of new concepts such as Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) provide new possibilities for linking of site-based in-situ data and remote sensing, as well as global-scale earth system observations. This session will present research on the development and applications of new technologies in ecosystem science at both local and regional scales.
6. Global research infrastructures
The type and scale of research infrastructures required to support long-term ecosystem research is changing rapidly. Along with this is an urgent need to interconnect LTER sites/LTSER platforms, other ecosystem monitoring platforms (e.g., NEON, ICOS, SMEAR, PPBio), and existing grassroots ecological networks (e.g., NutNet, Drought-Net) in ways that facilitate scientists tracking shifts in ecological communities across continents and answering grand challenge questions in land manager relevant timeframes. This activity brings many issues such as method compatibility, metadata and data standards, data exchange, core variables, negotiating the trade-offs between international network demands for harmonization and bottom-up, locally-determined demands. In this session the focus will be on the issues involved with developing sustainable research infrastructures, the handling of big and disparate data sets, the impact of global research infrastructures and networks on science.
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