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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Living in an increasingly connected world: a framework for continental-scale environmental science

Authors
item Peters, Debra
item Groffman, Peter - INST. ECOSYSTEM STUDI
item Nadelhoffer, Kunte - UNIV. OF MICHIGAN
item Grimm, Nancy - ARIZONA STATE UNIV
item Collins, Scott - UNIV. OF NEW MEXICO
item Michener, William - UNIV. OF NEW MEXICO
item Huston, Michael - TEXAS STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 13, 2007
Publication Date: June 10, 2008
Citation: Peters, D.C., Groffman, P.M., Nadelhoffer, K.J., Grimm, N.B., Collins, S.L., Michener, W.K., Huston, M.A. 2008. Living in an increasingly connected world: a framework for continental-scale environmental science. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 6(5):229-237.

Interpretive Summary: The global environment is changing rapidly through processes that act at multiple spatial and temporal scales. It is now clear that local processes can affect broader-scale ecological dynamics, and that broad-scale drivers may at times overwhelm local patterns and processes. In this paper, we provide a conceptual framework for these multi-scale processes, a series of hypotheses and predictions, to test this framework, and we also propose the development of a network of networks largely taking advantage of existing research facilities and cyberinfrastructure to address these hypotheses. This framework and associated research infrastructure based on connectivity across scales will uniquely enable our understanding and enable us to better forecast global environmental change at multiple spatial scales, from local research sites to regions and continents.

Technical Abstract: The global environment is changing rapidly through processes that act at multiple spatial and temporal scales. It is now clear that local processes can affect broader-scale ecological dynamics, and that broad-scale drivers may at times overwhelm local patterns and processes. Understanding these cross-scale interactions requires a conceptual framework to predict continental-scale ecosystem dynamics based on connectivity in material and information flow across scales. In this paper, we (1) discuss a multi-scale conceptual framework, including the key drivers and consequences of ecological connectivity acting across spatial and temporal scales, (2) provide a series of testable hypotheses, predictions, and an approach derived from this conceptual framework, and (3) propose the development of a network of networks largely taking advantage of existing research facilities and cyberinfrastructure to address these hypotheses. This framework and associated research infrastructure based on connectivity across scales will uniquely enable our understanding and enable us to better forecast global environmental change at multiple spatial scales, from local research sites to regions and continents.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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