Welcome • Grant from National Science Foundation: Fire, Atmospheric pCO2, and Climate as Alternative Primary Controls of C4-Grass Abundance: The Late-Quaternary Perspective • Overall Goals • Build on core ecosystem concepts through current research • Develop a framework for engaging students in critical thinking and active learning about ecology • Provide dynamic educational tools, lesson ideas, and online resources • Build bridges between science educators, scientists, and students • Schedule • Day 1: Ecosystems (Present) • Day 2: Paleo-ecology (Past) • Day 3: Climate Change (Future)
“The past is a key to the future” http://angielskidlakazdego.blox.pl/resource/family_tree3_pop.jpg
Last 50 years History of atmospheric CO2 concentrations Last 12,000 years 12,000 0 Last 650,000 years 650,000 0 Images from IPCC. 2007.
“The past is a key to the future” Primary succession in habitat with no history of plants or soil • Characterize processes that occur over tens to thousands of years • Baseline information; variability • Identify phenomena outside our range of experience (e.g. novel communities, rapid changes) • Responses to environmental change • Testing models used to predict future changes
What are ecosystems? • Ecological systems • All of the organisms (plants, animals, microbes) and the abiotic (sun, soil) environment with which they interact • Community + physical & chemical environment • These factors vary over space & time • They provide goods & services (clean air, food, habitat)
Ecosystem properties • Structure • Diversity (species richness, evenness) • Species composition (relative abundance) • Soil type • Function • Productivity • Decomposition • Carbon uptake • Nitrogen cycling
Ecosystem function: Net Primary Production (blue = water green = land) % area X NPP/area = % of total NPP
Biodiversity influences ecosystem function Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, Minnesota Biomass (post/pre drought) Pre-drought species richness Tilman and Downing. 1994.
Ecosystem Function Energy Flows: sun producers consumers decomposers Elements/Nutrients Cycle : Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Phosphorus http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/kling/ecosystem/ecosystem.html
Energy flow: food & trophic relationships Consumers (heterotrophs) Producers (autotrophs)
Carbon cycle Buried carbonate 60,000
Biome: a major type of terrestrial community categorized by its dominant plant form, seasonality of leaves, leaf morphology, latitude.
Geography of grass-dominated biomes Jacobs et al. 1999.
Photosynthetic pathways Calvin Benson cycle in C3plants RUBISCO also binds with O2, especially at high temperatures (photorespiration)