John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis

Ecosystems

Powell Center working groups rarely are just one USGS Mission Area and are sorted into these areas by the groups themselves. Projects may be relevant to additional areas.

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Filter Total Items: 35
Date published: August 19, 2015
Status: Active

What lies below? Improving quantification and prediction of soil carbon storage, stability, and susceptibility to disturbance.

Soils are a vast reservoir of organic carbon (C), rendering the fate of soil C an important control on the global climate system. Widespread changes in soil C storage capacity present a potentially strong feedback to global change. Yet, a comprehensive understanding of how soil C will respond to climate and/or land use disturbance remains illusive, resulting in major uncertainties in global...

Contacts: Corey Lawrence
Date published: August 19, 2015
Status: Active

Predicting the next high-impact insect invasion: Elucidating traits and factors determining the risk of introduced herbivorous insects on North American native plants

Non-native insect invasions increasingly cause widespread ecological and economic damage in natural and agricultural ecosystems. Non-native insects specialized for feeding on specific plant groups are particularly problematic as they can potentially eliminate an entire genus of native plant species across a wide area. For example, emerald ash borer has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees...

Date published: October 6, 2014
Status: Active

Continental-scale overview of stream primary productivity, its links to water quality, and consequences for aquatic carbon biogeochemistry

Streams and rivers have a limited spatial extent, but are increasingly recognized as key components of regional biogeochemical cycles. The collective metabolic processing of organisms, known as ecosystem metabolism, is centrally important to nutrient cycling and carbon fluxes in these environments, but is poorly integrated into emerging biogeochemical concepts. This line of inquiry lags behind...

Date published: October 6, 2014
Status: Active

Characterizing landscape genomics and reconstructing pathways to plant ecological specialization and speciation

This proposal brings together biologists and geoscientists to evaluate the evolution of stress tolerance and adaptation to extreme environments in plants. Stress tolerance has been studied mainly from a physiological perspective using laboratory and field experiments. In contrast, this project will take a combined environmental and evolutionary perspective using national public databases and a...

Date published: October 6, 2014
Status: Active

North American Analysis and Synthesis on the Connectivity of "Geographically Isolated Wetlands" to Downstream Waters

Geographically Isolated Wetlands (GIWs) occur along gradients of hydrologic and ecological connectivity and isolation, even within wetland types (e.g., forested, emergent marshes) and functional classes (e.g., ephemeral systems, permanent systems, etc.). Within a given watershed, the relative positions of wetlands and open-waters along these gradients influence the type and magnitude of their...

Date published: October 25, 2013
Status: Active

Dam removal: synthesis of ecological and physical responses

Dam decommissioning is rapidly emerging as an important river restoration strategy in the U.S., with several major removals recently completed or in progress. But few studies have evaluated the far-reaching consequences of these significant environmental perturbations, especially those resulting from removals of large (>10-15 m tall) structures during the last decade. In particular,...

Date published: October 25, 2013
Status: Active

Elucidating mechanisms underlying amphibian declines in North America using hierarchical spatial models

Amphibian populations are declining globally at unprecedented rates but statistically rigorous identification of mechanisms is lacking. Identification of reasons underlying large-scale declines is imperative to plan and implement effective conservation efforts. Most research on amphibian population decline has focused on local populations and local factors. However, the ubiquity of declines...

Date published: October 22, 2013
Status: Active

Forecasting forest response to N deposition: integrating data from individual plant responses to soil chemistry with a continental-scale gradient analysis

Nitrogen deposition is altering forest dynamics, terrestrial carbon storage, and biodiversity. However, our ability to forecast how different tree species will respond to N deposition, especially key response thresholds, is limited by a lack of synthesis across spatial scales and research approaches. To develop our best understanding of N deposition impact on tree growth and survival, we will...

Date published: October 22, 2013
Status: Active

Integrating modeling and empirical approaches to improve predictions of tropical forest responses to global warming

Tropical forests contain > 50% of the world’s known species (Heywood 1995), 55% of global forest biomass (Pan et al. 2011), and exchange more carbon (C), water and energy with the atmosphere than any other ecosystem type (e.g., Saugier et al. 2001). Despite their importance, there is more uncertainty associated with predictions of how tropical forests will respond to warming than for any...

Date published: October 22, 2013
Status: Active

Advancing understanding of ecosystem responses to climate change with warming experiments: what we have learned and what is unknown?

Advancing our mechanistic understanding of ecosystem responses to climate change is critical to improve ecological theories, develop predictive models to simulate ecosystem processes, and inform sound policies to manage ecosystems and human activities. Manipulation of temperature in the field, or the “ecosystem warming experiment,” has proved to be a powerful tool to understand ecosystem...

Date published: October 21, 2013
Status: Active

Modeling species response to environmental change: development of integrated, scalable Bayesian models of population persistence

Estimating species response to environmental change is a key challenge for ecologists and a core mission of the USGS. Effective forecasting of species response requires models that are detailed enough to capture critical processes and at the same time general enough to allow broad application. This tradeoff is difficult to reconcile with most existing methods. We propose to extend and combine...

Date published: October 21, 2013
Status: Active

Mercury cycling, bioaccumulation, and risk across western North America: a landscape scale synthesis linking long-term datasets

Mercury (Hg) is a serious environmental problem that is impacting ecological and human health on a global scale. However, local and regional processes are largely responsible for producing methylmercury, which drives ecological risk. This is particularly true in western North America where the combination of diverse landscapes, habitat types, climates, and Hg sources may disproportionally...