ground squirrel munches on nearby herbs

Consumers, such as this Arctic ground squirrel, can redistribute a surprising amount of what plants produce, thereby changing ecosystem dynamics.
Credit: Jeremy Yoder via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Response of Primary Producers and Primary Consumers to Environmental Change: from small-scale disturbances to seasonal and long-term changes

This LTER SPARC Synthesis Working Group brings together LTER researchers interested in understanding how disturbances and environmental change across timescales are altering the production and transfer of organic matter from primary producers to herbivores. All ecosystems are subject to temporal variations in biological production and consumption over broad time scales (from diel to decadal) in response to changes in the environment. Understanding the flow of C and energy from primary producers to their consumers provides essential information about ecosystem properties and functions. Both terrestrial and aquatic ecologists assess ecosystem primary production and the amount of autotrophic C transferred to higher trophic levels, irrespective of how challenging it is to assess these transfer rates. The study of primary producers and consumer interactions is essential to fully understand and predict the ecosystems response to anticipated increased disturbances and environmental changes driven by anthropogenic activities. The group’s goals include synthesizing the current status and identifying research needs to establish a mechanistic and predictive understanding of the trophic interactions from primary producers to their consumers.