Synthesis group: metacommunity dynamics and community responses to disturbance

Plans We set out to answer the general question: How do metacommunity dynamics mediate community responses to disturbance across the ecosystems represented in the LTER network? Metacommunity theory provides a framework to predict when different types of community assembly processes should control the composition of the species pool both at local and regional scales. Thus,… Read more »

Connecting Communities: LTER at ESA 2019

Logo for ESA 2019 Annual Meeting

LTER presents two plenary talks, plus results from synthesis working groups.
Individual talks and posters are listed and cover topics as diverse as the ecology of segregation, connectivity in barrier island communities, and modeling complex landscapes using machine learning.

2018 LTER Synthesis Webinar Series

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The LTER Network Communications Office developed this monthly webinar series to keep investigators across the community apprised of new developments from the LTER synthesis groups. Webinars are hosted by the LTER Network Communications Office and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS).  Each of the speakers will discuss the opportunity they perceived to… Read more »

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 »

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.

Finding the Hidden Phytoplankton Blooms

In stratified lakes, a large portion of phytoplankton biomass is found—not at the surface, where sampling is easiest—but somewhere down the water column, in what is known as a subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SSCM). Researchers in Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) compared automated high-frequency chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF) profiles with surface samples and discrete depth profiles. In 7 of the 11 lakes studied, automated sampling captured the presence of SSCM’s that would have been missed by conventional sampling.

Macrosystems ecology: A key subfield matures

Ecosystems ecology, landscape ecology, macrosystems ecology. It’s easy to think of these subdisciplines as big, bigger, biggest—but there’s a good deal more to the distinction than the scale of interaction they address. A recent “Idea and Perspective” article in Ecology Letters traces the origins and foundations of the field of macrosystems ecology, and advances a new hypothesis to describe how anthropogenic influences change the scales of ecological processes.

Decomposition in Streams: A Global Synthesis

leaf in streamwater

A major multi-site analysis of leaf litter decomposition in streams and rivers found that rising temperatures are unlikely to speed decomposition as much as predicted under metabolic theory. Although fresh water bodies cover only three percent of the Earth’s land surface, they are a key component of the global carbon and nutrient cycles and the rate of decomposition in streams affects both carbon dioxide emissions and supply of organic matter to downstream food webs.