Water is key to tropical forest carbon storage


Tropical forests are sometimes referred to as the “lungs of the planet,” and for good reason – the high plant biomass of tropical regions produces a large portion of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Rainfall, nutrient availability, and amount of disturbance (natural or human) a forest experiences can all… Read more »

2017 AGU Presentations

AGU logo

At the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting, held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, from December 11-15, 2017, dozens of LTER researchers will present new results on a range of topics, from how ecosystems recover from droughts and hurricanes to what manufactured ice storms can reveal about how to prepare for winter’s worst. Links to the abstracts for over 100 LTER presentations at AGU 2017.

Wildfire Ponzi Scheme? The Continental Carbon Exchange

Wildfire in Alaskan black spruce forests.

If carbon is currency, wildfires are the brokers; that is, they distribute carbon between land and air. In the short-run, fire emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Over time, it also strengthens subsequent carbon uptake through plant regrowth. This exchange is like a natural Ponzi scheme – the carbon offsets from yesterday’s fires take up today’s emissions…. Read more »

A Glimpse into the Future: How Land Use Decisions Will Impact Forest Function

How can researchers project the ways in which land-use changes will affect ecosystem services when they don’t yet know what course development will take? Integrated scenario analysis models several possible trajectories to examine the interactive effects that land-use change could have on ecosystem structure and function.

Just How Does Nitrogen Drive Change in Plant Communities?

Nitrogen enrichment can dramatically change the existing environment for plants and typically leads to increased productivity, decresed diversity, and shifts plant community composition. But what mechanisms are responsible for these changes? Researchers designed a multi-site experiment to find out, experimentally manipulating each of three possible drivers across mesocosms of three ecosystem types (tall grass prairie, alpine tundra, and desert grassland).

Winter Conditions Vital to Year-Round Lake Dynamics

This month’s Ecology Letters features the first global quantitative synthesis of under-ice lake ecology. In their analysis of 36 abiotic and biotic variables across 101 lakes, the authors issue a call to arms for more winter lake research—currently the focus of only 2% of freshwater publications. As the climate warms, they warn, temperate ecosystems are losing ice, and limnologists remain unsure what ecological processes are at stake. Though winter has long been understood as an inactive period, some data suggests that winter foodwebs and physical processes remain vigorous and that winter ecology can drive subsequent summer conditions.

Growing Grass: A Story of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Leaf Size

Ecologists know that nitrogen, phosphorus and leaf area play key roles in the productivity of plant communities. But how tightly are they tied together? And are those relationships sustained over different types of landscapes? A recent study of tallgrass prairie communities, building on a previous study of arctic tundra, found leaf area index (LAI) to be strongly correlated to both total foliar nitrogen and total foliar phosphorus in several plant functional types (grass, forb, woody, and sedge) and grazing treatments (cattle, bison, and ungrazed).