SYMP 8 - Thirty Years of Earth Stewardship Research: Long-Term Matters

Tuesday, August 9, 2011: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Ballroom C, Austin Convention Center
Organizer: G. Philip Robertson
Co-organizers: David R. Foster , Chris Boone , Daniel L. Childers and Sarah E. Hobbie
Moderator: G. Philip Robertson
The US Long-term Ecological Research program was started in 1980 to provide ecologists sites at which to address questions that require long periods to resolve. Place-based, hypothesis-driven research that is long-term remains a hallmark of the LTER program today and the foundation of its contributions to earth stewardship. The two overarching research goals of LTER are a) to achieve a mechanistic understanding of ecological responses to past and present environmental change at multiple spatial and temporal scales; and b) to use this understanding to predict ecological, evolutionary, and/or social responses to future environmental change; to inform societal strategies to adapt to and mitigate environmental change; and to conserve, restore, and design ecosystems to improve environmental and human wellbeing. At 26 LTER sites ecologists conduct synthetic and cross-site research that builds upon site-based data, experiments, and models across diverse regions. More and more, LTER research is directed towards network-wide questions at regional to continental scales. Here we will highlight the unique and emerging contributions of long-term ecological research to ecological science, to science education, and to society; synthesize major work, innovative thinking, new approaches, and emerging directions; identify directions for LTER growth in the integration of national observatories and major ecological programs; and underscore the special importance of eco-informatics to long-term research – critical for science and education. Of particular note is the recent emergence of socio-ecological research within the Network, a development that provides a new paradigm for understanding linkages between social and ecological systems. Earth stewardship depends on this understanding – without it, the development of workable policy solutions to some of the most recalcitrant environmental problems of today, ranging from water resource depletion to climate change vulnerability, will remain difficult to design and even more difficult to achieve. New frameworks and long-term research are needed to help us understand how humans perceive the critical services provided by ecosystems, how these perceptions change behavior and institutions, and how behavioral and institutional change in turn feeds back to affect ecosystem structure and function and thereby the ability of ecosystems to deliver future services. In this symposium speakers will use results from 30 years of LTER to illustrate how long-term research can uniquely contribute to the understanding needed to preserve and enhance Earth’s life support systems, and to describe ways in which this legacy can be leveraged to contribute to the ecological theory necessary to address emerging environmental challenges.
1:30 PM
Emergence and future role of long-term socio-ecological research for earth stewardship
Scott L. Collins, University of New Mexico; G. Philip Robertson, Michigan State University; David R. Foster, Harvard University; Daniel L. Childers, Arizona State University
2:00 PM
Long-term experiments in the LTER network: Past, present, and future roles
Alan K. Knapp, Colorado State University; Melinda D. Smith, Colorado State University; Sarah E. Hobbie, University of Minnesota; Timothy J. Fahey, Cornell University; Scott L. Collins, University of New Mexico; Gretchen Hansen, University of Wisconsin; Doug A. Landis, Michigan State University; Kimberly J. Komatsu La Pierre, Yale University; Jerry M. Melillo, Marine Biological Laboratory; Tim Seastedt, University of Colorado at Boulder; Jackson R. Webster, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
2:30 PM
Future scenarios of landscape vulnerability and resilience to global change
Jonathan R. Thompson, Harvard University; David R. Foster, Harvard University; Stephen R. Carpenter, University of Wisconsin - Madison; Thomas A. Spies, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Nancy B. Grimm, Arizona State University; Frederick J. Swanson, USDA Forest Service, Pacific NW Research Station
3:00 PM
The disappearing cryosphere: Impacts and ecosystem responses to rapid cryosphere loss
Andrew Fountain, Portland State University; Hugh Ducklow, Marine Biological Laboratory; John J. Magnuson, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Mark Williams, University of Colorado
3:30 PM
3:40 PM
Water supply sensitivity and ecosystem resilience to land use change, climate change, and climate variability
Julia A. Jones, Oregon State University; Kendra Hatcher, Oregon State University; Alan Covich, University of Georgia; Cliff Dahm, University of New Mexico; Nancy B. Grimm, Arizona State University; Mark Williams, University of Colorado
4:10 PM
Integrating science and society: the role of long-term studies in environmental stewardship and policy
Charles T. Driscoll, Syracuse University; Kathleen Fallon Lambert, Harvard Forest (Harvard University); F. Stuart Chapin III, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Clarisse M. Hart, Harvard Forest (Harvard University); David B. Kittredge, University of Massachusetts; David J. Nowak, USDA Forest Service; Thomas A. Spies, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Frederick J. Swanson, USDA Forest Service, Pacific NW Research Station
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