Early this year the annual Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Mini-Symposium scheduled for Thursday, March 5, 2015, had to be postponed when inclement weather forced the closure of the National Science Foundation (NSF) (see http://bit.ly/1NkuT9Q). At the time we reported that webcasts of the talks would be presented in blocks of two or three at a later date and time. Those webcasts and PowerPoint narrations are now available for viewing or download (see highlighted links in the detailed agenda below, after a brief introduction).

Primary Productivity
At the base of almost all of Earth’s food webs is the biological process of primary production – the conversion of solar energy and carbon dioxide into living biomass. This seemingly simple process is the domain of green plants, algae, and some bacteria that combine sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to form organic molecules and oxygen. And although the basic process is the same everywhere, the rate at which primary production proceeds shows remarkable spatial and temporal variability. Because of the foundational nature of primary production in generating food and oxygen for the biosphere and because of its major role in the Earth’s carbon cycle, understanding where, when, how, and why rates of primary production change is a central question for ecological research, and why this unifying process is a core measurement for sites in the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. And because the basic process is universal, primary production is an integrated measure of ecosystems that can be used to test ecological theories across very different habitats.

Presentations address ecological controls and concepts related to primary production, including detecting effects of climate change on production in coastal environments and boreal zones; determining patterns and causes of temporal heterogeneity in production in forests and in aquatic ecosystems, and responses of primary production to disturbance.

Detailed agenda with linked talks where available:

8:30am Welcome and Opening Comments
Saran Twombly (NSF Division of Environmental Biology), Peter Groffman (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and Baltimore Ecosystem Studies, Hubbard Brook LTER sites)

8:45am Grasslands and multi-year drought: using long-term data to inform past mysteries and minimize future surprises by Debra Peters (New Mexico State University and Jornada site)

9:15am Timing is everything: Understanding short- and long-term variability in light and temperature on inter-biome freshwater ecosystem production by John Kominoski (Florida International University and Florida Coastal Everglades LTER site)

9:45am Forest Net primary production: Examining spatial and temporal heterogeneity within the LTER Network by Mark Harmon (Oregon State University and H.J. Andrews LTER site)

10:15am Break
10:30am Marsh equilibrium theory: feedbacks and tipping points by James Morris (University of South Carolina and Plum Island Ecosystem LTER site)

11:00am The changing nature of trophic cascades at high latitudes by Roger Ruess (University of Alaska Fairbanks and Bonanza Creek LTER site)

11:30am Primary production in human-dominated ecosystems: Responses to human activities and provisioning of ecosystem servicesby Emma Rosi-Marshall (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and Baltimore Ecosystem Studies LTER site)