LTER: Communities-to-Ecosystems

Integrating Plant Community and Ecosystem Responses to Chronic Global Change Drivers: Toward an Explanation of Patterns and Improved Global Predictions

Principal Investigator(s): 

Kimberly J. La Pierre (KNZ/CDR/SGS), Meghan L. Avolio (KNZ), & Kevin R. Wilcox (KNZ/SGS)

Many global change drivers (GCDs) lead to chronic alterations in resource availability. As communities change through time in response to these GCDs, the magnitude and direction of ecosystem responses is also predicted to change in a non-linear fashion. This LTER NCO Synthesis Working Group proposes to examine whether plant community dynamics are predictive of shifts in ecosystem function across 101 long-term resource manipulation experiments (including 32 LTER experiments).

The working group will address three main objectives: 1) identify temporal patterns of plant community change in response to global change manipulations; 2) link these patterns of community change to changes in aboveground net primary productivity and carbon storage; and 3) incorporate community change into ecosystem models predicting functional responses to GCDs. These objectives address four of the five LTER core thematic areas (primary production, population studies, organic matter dynamics, and disturbance patterns/processes). Overall, they will test current ecological theory to inform predictions of future responses to GCDs across a wide variety of terrestrial herbaceous systems, including those represented by 17 LTER sites. Funding from the LTER NCO will allow a diverse group of ecologists with expertise in modeling, statistical development, community ecology, and field experiments to come together to accomplish these objectives.

Funded in 2016 through National Science Foundation Grant # DEB-1545288.

Photo Credit: Jacob Miller, 2014

More Information for Project Participants Visit the LTER Website