Wednesday, August 9, 2017: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
D135, Oregon Convention Center
Oswald J. Schmitz, Yale University
Chris C. Wilmers, University of California, Santa Cruz
Robert W. Buchkowski, Yale University
Understanding the biogeochemical processes regulating carbon cycling is central to mitigating atmospheric CO2 emissions and climate change. The role of living organisms has been accounted for, but the focus has traditionally been on contributions of plants and microbes. Recent reviews suggest, however, that a full accounting of sources and fates of carbon in ecosystems will be incomplete without broader consideration of the functional role of animal species, especially the role they play in mediating biogeochemical processes and influencing carbon storage and exchange among terrestrial and aquatic reservoirs and the atmosphere. Exploration of case studies suggest that the estimated magnitudes of animal effects can rival that of plants and microbes and thus suggest that there is much promise in protecting and managing animal biodiversity as a way to help manage global carbon budgets. But, this potential of animals is largely overlooked owing to a research tradition that almost exclusively focuses on plants and microbes. Hence, the idea that animals are important drivers of carbon cycles needs to be tested more deliberately and systematically before we can make generalizations.
The purpose of the symposium, therefore, is to inspire and generate excitement around a new research frontier that explores the role of animal diversity in ecosystem carbon cycling, especially the mechanisms by which animals may affect carbon exchanges and storage within and among ecosystems and the atmosphere. The symposium will offer a series of forward-looking presentations on how we go about testing the idea that animals can be important drivers of carbon cycling in ecosystems. This would involve case studies demonstrating the promise of animals to impact carbon budgets across vast landscape, but more than that, introduce the audience to (1) the kind of conceptual framework needed to go forward, (2) the application/integration of technology and on-the ground sampling/experimentation to scale from the plot level to the landscape/seascape level, (3) the integration of animal population and community dynamics and trophic interactions into models of carbon dynamics.
We have assembled a roster of international speakers that cover a broad range of topics from empirical analysis of carbon cycling in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, to the application of technology to measure the pools and fluxes of carbon in ecosystems, to modeling species and ecosystem dynamics. The presentations will be coordinated to complement each other as well as collectively build out the conceptual framework, presented at the start of the symposium.