5 March 2015 National Science Foundation Stafford I, Room 110
At the base of almost all of Earth’s food webs is the biological process of primary production - the conversion of solar energy and carbon dioxide into living biomass. This seemingly simple process is the domain of green plants, algae, and some bacteria that combine sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to form organic molecules and oxygen. And although the basic process is the same everywhere, the rate at which primary production proceeds shows remarkable spatial and temporal variability. Because of the foundational nature of primary production in generating food and oxygen for the biosphere and because of its major role in the Earth’s carbon cycle, understanding where, when, how, and why rates of primary production change is a central question for ecological research, and why this unifying process is a core measurement for sites in the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. And because the basic process is universal, primary production is an integrated measure of ecosystems that can be used to test ecological theories across very different habitats.
Presentations will address ecological controls and concepts related to primary production, including detecting effects of climate change on production in coastal environments and boreal zones; determining patterns and causes of temporal heterogeneity in production in forests and in aquatic ecosystems, and responses of primary production to disturbance.