Reconstructing disturbances and their biogeochemical consequences over multiple timescales

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Ongoing changes in disturbance regimes are predicted to cause acute changes in ecosystem structure and function in the coming decades, but many aspects of these predictions are uncertain. A key challenge is to improve the predictability of postdisturbance biogeochemical trajectories at the ecosystem level. Ecosystem ecologists and paleoecologists have generated complementary data sets about disturbance (type, severity, frequency) and ecosystem response (net primary productivity, nutrient cycling) spanning decadal to millennial timescales. Here, we take the first steps toward a full integration of these data sets by reviewing how disturbances are reconstructed using dendrochronological and sedimentary archives and by summarizing the conceptual frameworks for carbon, nitrogen, and hydrologic responses to disturbances. Key research priorities include further development of paleoecological techniques that reconstruct both disturbances and terrestrial ecosystem dynamics. In addition, mechanistic detail from disturbance experiments, long-term observations, and chronosequences can help increase the understanding of ecosystem resilience.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Reconstructing disturbances and their biogeochemical consequences over multiple timescales
Series title BioScience
DOI 10.1093/biosci/bit017
Volume 64
Issue 2
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher American Institute of Biological Sciences
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 12 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title BioScience
First page 105
Last page 116
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