Tuesday, August 8, 2017: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Portland Blrm 255, Oregon Convention Center
Quentin D. Read, Michigan State University
John M Grady, Bryn Mawr College;
Sydne Record, Bryn Mawr College; and
Phoebe Zarnetske, Michigan State University
John M Grady, University of New Mexico,
To deepen our understanding of ecological theory and address the challenges posed by global change, ecologists need to gather data on communities that (1) can be compared across disparate environments, (2) span large scales of space and time, and (3) reflect organisms’ functioning. Coordinated research networks that use standardized observational or experimental protocols uniquely allow us to observe patterns and processes that only emerge at larger spatial and longer temporal scales. An impressive array of ecological research networks has proliferated in recent years. This session highlights research from several networks, including: the Long-Term Ecological Research network (LTER), the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the Nutrient Network (NutNet), the Global Lake Observatory Network (GLEON), the Paleoecological Observatory Network (PaleON), and the Partnership for the Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO). The growing reach of ecological research networks has led to a surge in available data, posing challenges on how to best manage, analyze and interpret incoming information. In this session, speakers will present ongoing research from networks that tests ecological theory, generates predictions about how global change affects biodiversity, and explores ecological patterns and processes across large spatial and long temporal scales. The research projects presented here make use of diverse data collected as part of coordinated research networks, but are united in their focus on using measurements of functional traits to answer theoretical and applied questions in ecology.
The session will begin with a talk on NEON’s organismal data to illustrate how observational networks enable scientists to study the response of ecological communities to environmental variability, and the inherent challenges of such a large undertaking. Each presenting researcher will highlight key findings from his or her research using data from a coordinated network. The session includes research spanning terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems, and on taxonomic groups spanning plants, animals, and soil microbes. Presentations will focus on patterns and relationships between organismal traits, community composition, and climate or other environmental gradients. In addition, each researcher will discuss challenges or opportunities that have emerged from her or his work, especially regarding how to predict the impacts of climate change on the diversity and function of ecological communities. This session will showcase cutting-edge data science, tackle long-standing ecological questions, and highlight future directions in the areas of trait ecology and community ecology that are enabled by coordinated research networks.