Integrating Agro-Ecological Research Across Spatial and Temporal Scales
Thursday, August 8, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
205AB, Minneapolis Convention Center
Kate A. Brauman
Kimberly M. Carlson
Graham K. MacDonald
Kate A. Brauman
Agricultural intensification and expansion impact, and are impacted by, a diversity of ecosystem processes and functions. Understanding interactions among agriculture and ecosystems requires cross-scale integration, because processes occurring locally, such as alteration of nutrient cycles, carbon emissions, and changes in freshwater availability and quality, may have global ecological implications. Concurrently, producing sufficient food to feed Earth’s growing population requires improved understanding of local-to-global drivers of production and environmental feedbacks.
Field-based ecologists often focus on agricultural systems and ecological processes at local-to-regional levels and daily-to-decadal timescales. In contrast, global change researchers compile coarser spatial data and may rely on information from a single point in time. Despite great promise that research programs working at vastly different scales may inform one another, few links currently exist between such programs. Increased ability for scientists and practitioners to interface across disparate temporal and spatial dimensions can improve agricultural management decisions and policies to strategically increase food production while minimizing the environmental impacts of agriculture.
We bring together experts – including theorists, field scientists, and global change researchers – with backgrounds that span disciplinary and scale divides to discuss multi-scale integration of diverse agricultural research. Our session focuses on how and in what circumstances global data and insights can inform local studies and management, and how local findings can advise global understanding.
Our symposium begins with an examination of global trends in yields of cereal crops over time, exploring how these findings could be translated to practices on the ground. The following speaker will address scale limits in social-ecological systems and provide a systems-theoretic perspective on indicators of agro-ecosystem resilience. We continue by analyzing the ecological implications of national and individual food security strategies. The overarching concepts of space and time will be bridged in a discussion of distant land use displacement due to commodity crop expansion. Next, we explore ecosystem service tradeoffs through the lens of local scale agroecological research. We conclude by addressing agricultural land-use legacies, viewing nutrient cycling and agricultural management from a historical ecological perspective. A discussion at the end synthesizes and connects each of these themes.