The Fray Jorge Project (1989-2014): A 25-year Window on Species Interactions and Climate Change in a Semiarid South American Community
Thursday, August 14, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
304/305, Sacramento Convention Center
Peter L. Meserve, University of Idaho
Cristina Armas, Universidad de La Serena & Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity; and
Julio R. Gutiérrez, Universidad de La Serena
Marten Scheffer, Wageningen University
After 25 years of work at a semiarid site in north-central Chile, an organized oral session will review the accomplishments and findings, and highlight recent trends, particularly consequences of climate change. Perspectives on diverse aspects of the project will be presented by principal investigators, and outside speakers will contextualize the relevance of the project in general terms. Specific aspects to be covered include responses of major biotic components (i.e., plants, small mammals, vertebrate predators) in the focal community to manipulations, effects of on-going climate change on species interactions, and the role of extreme climatic events.
The goal of the session is to emphasize the value of long-term experimental studies at large spatial scales involving multiple components. We will highlight insights obtained from such an approach as well as note some of the inherent difficulties working at such scales. We bring together investigators who have been involved from the project’s inception with those who have contributed to its evolution and refocusing of research objectives. Also, we will explore linkages of earlier results with those of more subtle biotic interactions and exotic-native plant species interactions in light of on-going climate change in the system. As the program reflects, people working with diverse organismal groups and those involved with more general aspects such as extreme climatic events and climate change on other continents are participating.
As a study that has enjoyed considerable external support from U.S. and Chilean grant agencies, as well as high productivity in publications, reports, and training of students and technicians, the Fray Jorge project has been prominent in the promotion of international scientific collaboration. Clearly, after a quarter century of work, some of the project’s original objectives have changed as new insights have been gained. A session focusing on those findings and their ramifications will be particularly timely and enable redefinition of its goals into the near future.
Presentations by ecologists involved with specific community component groups will offer a broad overview of the project’s accomplishments and provide a window as to their significance for understanding consequences of climate change in arid lands generally. Topics will cover aspects of population biology, plant ecology, plant-animal interactions, bioenergetics, climate change, and consequences of extreme climatic events. Session presentations will be of broad interest to ecologists and provide an overview of the project’s results and long-range ramifications.