New Approach for Predicting Ecosystem Responses to Global Change


Long-term ecological responses to global change are strongly regulated by slow processes, such as changes in species composition, carbon dynamics in soil and long-lived plants, and accumulation of nutrient capitals. Understanding and predicting these processes require experiments on decadal time scales. But even decadal experiments may not be adequate because many of the slow processes have time scales much longer than those experiments. DOE-funded scientists have proposed a new, coordinated research approach that combines long-term, large-scale global change experiments with process studies and modeling. They propose that long-term global change manipulative experiments, especially in high-priority ecosystems such as tropical forests and high-latitude regions, be conducted in tandem with complementary process studies (e.g., using model ecosystems, species replacements, laboratory incubations, isotope tracers, and greenhouse facilities) to best inform long- and short-term responses. This new, coordinated approach that combines long-term experiments, process studies, and modeling has the potential to be the most effective strategy for gaining information on long-term ecosystem dynamics in response to global change.


Luo, Y., J. Melillo, S. Niu, C. Beier, J. S. Clarks, A. T. Classen, E. Davidson, J. S. Dukes, R. D. Evans, C. B. Field, C. J. Czimczik, M. Keller, B. A. Kimball, L. M. Kueppers, R. J. Norby, S. L. Pelini, E. Pendall, E. Rastetter, J. Six, M Smith, M. G. Tjoelker, and M. S. Torn. 2011. “Coordinated Approaches To Quantify Long-Term Ecosystem Dynamics in Response to Global Change,” Global Change Biology 17, 843–54.