As we looked at the Anthropocene during the recent Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) All Scientist Meeting (ASM) in Estes Park, Colorado, we may have overlooked how rates of change in human activity vary and how such variation impacts what humans must do to cope with change. The picture of change presented by Earle Ellis and like-minded colleagues suggests that anthropogenic changes to the relationship between humans and natural systems may take generations, centuries, or even millennia to run their course. This presents a real challenge to the LTER Network because only a few members of our community study changes on such grand time scales despite our mission to study changes in ecological processes that take longer than normal grant-funded research cycles.
On the last day of the 2012 LTER All Scientists Meeting in Estes Park, Colorado, a team of LTER scientists including Scott Collins (SEV and chair of the LTER Science Council and Executive Board), Bob Waide (LNO), Nancy Grimm (CAP), Laura Ogden (FCE), and Morgan Grove (CWT) met a visiting group of journalists and researchers from around the world who were attending a conference on “Climate, Culture and Politics” at the University of Colorado (CU), Boulder.
Twenty-two working group organizers presented wrap up information on their working group or groups. Robert B. Waide, Executive Director of the LTER Network Office, gave the presenters about five minutes each to give an overview, outcomes, and possible future directions following their working group sessions. He urged working group organizers to do their reports promptly and to submit them and any supplemental material to the working group pages at http://asm2012.lternet.edu/working-groups.
“Many of the challenges that face us in the next 50 years have a biological basis…the earth’s climate and life support systems are changing in unusual and unexpected ways.”
At the University of California-Davis College of Biological Sciences, where he is Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, John C. Wingfield's work focuses on the neural end endocrine mechanisms underlying organism-environment interactions. His research also interfaces with how animals deal with global climate change, endocrine disruption and conservation biology.
The important message of the Anthropocene is that humans systems are an earth system now…how the human system goes is how the planet goes.
Erle C. Ellis, an Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, investigates the ecology of anthropogenic landscapes and their changes at local and global scales. His early work studied nitrogen cycling and sustainable agroecosystem management in China's ancient village ecosystems, and later measured long-term changes in carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus storage and flux across China's village landscapes caused by the transition from traditional to industrially-based agricultural systems.
“This will involve significant change and the journey can be organizationally innovating, socially useful, and most important, scientifically stimulating.”
Trained as a geographer, Kates has led interdisciplinary programs addressing environment and development at the University of Dar as Salaam in Tanzania, Clark University, and the World Hunger Program at Brown University. Dr. Kates was also a member of the National Advisory Board of the Long Term Ecological Research Systems, is a current member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the National Medal of Science.
“A healthy relationship with nature requires ecological knowledge.”
Michael Nelson is the co-founder and co-director of the Conservation Ethics Group, a senior fellow for the Spring Creek Project for Nature, Ideas, and the Written Word, and the Lead Principal Investigator for the H.J. Andrews (AND) Long Term Ecological Research site at Oregon State University.
“Can we ever produce predictive global scale ecological science and can we do it for not very much money?”
Elizabeth Borer is an Associate Professor with the Department of Ecology at the University of Minnesota, whose research focuses on trophic interactions and resource productivity and how those influence community composition. She has completed extensive research in to examining the mechanisms of coexistence of two parasitoid wasps: Aphystis melinus and Ecarsia perniciosi, which are involved in the control of a citrus pest, California red scale. Studies of these wasps are well documented and given the small scale of the research, the combination provides a great field system for testing quantitative ecological theory in real-time.