Ecosystem Center

East Falmouth, MA, United States

Ecosystem Center

East Falmouth, MA, United States
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Tian H.,Auburn University | Melillo J.,Ecosystem Center | Lu C.,Auburn University | Kicklighter D.,Ecosystem Center | And 8 more authors.
Global Biogeochemical Cycles | Year: 2011

The magnitude, spatial, and temporal patterns of the terrestrial carbon sink and the underlying mechanisms remain uncertain and need to be investigated. China is important in determining the global carbon balance in terms of both carbon emission and carbon uptake. Of particular importance to climate-change policy and carbon management is the ability to evaluate the relative contributions of multiple environmental factors to net carbon source and sink in China's terrestrial ecosystems. Here the effects of multiple environmental factors (climate, atmospheric CO2, ozone pollution, nitrogen deposition, nitrogen fertilizer application, and land cover/land use change) on net carbon balance in terrestrial ecosystems of China for the period 1961-2005 were modeled with newly developed, detailed historical information of these changes. For this period, results from two models indicated a mean land sink of 0.21 Pg C per year, with a multimodel range from 0.18 to 0.24 Pg C per year. The models' results are consistent with field observations and national inventory data and provide insights into the biogeochemical mechanisms responsible for the carbon sink in China's land ecosystems. In the simulations, nitrogen deposition and fertilizer applications together accounted for 61 percent of the net carbon storage in China's land ecosystems in recent decades, with atmospheric CO 2 increases and land use also functioning to stimulate carbon storage. The size of the modeled carbon sink over the period 1961-2005 was reduced by both ozone pollution and climate change. The modeled carbon sink in response to per unit nitrogen deposition shows a leveling off or a decline in some areas in recent years, although the nitrogen input levels have continued to increase. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

Schreeg L.A.,Brown University | Schreeg L.A.,Ecosystem Center | Santiago L.S.,University of California at Riverside | Santiago L.S.,Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute | And 2 more authors.
Ecology | Year: 2014

Foliar nitrogen to phosphorus (N: P) ratios are widely used to indicate soil nutrient availability and limitation, but the foliar ratios of woody plants have proven more complicated to interpret than ratios from whole biomass of herbaceous species. This may be related to tissues in woody species acting as nutrient reservoirs during active growth, allowing maintenance of optimal N: P ratios in recently produced, fully expanded leaves (i.e., ''new'' leaves, the most commonly sampled tissue). Here we address the hypothesis that N: P ratios of newly expanded leaves are less sensitive indicators of soil nutrient availability than are other tissue types in woody plants. Seedlings of five naturally established tree species were harvested from plots receiving two years of fertilizer treatments in a lowland tropical forest in the Republic of Panama. Nutrient concentrations were determined in new leaves, old leaves, stems, and roots. For stems and roots, N: P ratios increased after N addition and decreased after P addition, and trends were consistent across all five species. Older leaves also showed strong responses to N and P addition, and trends were consistent for four of five species. In comparison, overall N: P ratio responses in new leaves were more variable across species. These results indicate that the N: P ratios of stems, roots, and older leaves are more responsive indicators of soil nutrient availability than are those of new leaves. Testing the generality of this result could improve the use of tissue nutrient ratios as indices of soil nutrient availability in woody plants. © 2014 by the Ecological Society of America.

Johnson D.R.,University of Texas at El Paso | Lara M.J.,University of Texas at El Paso | Shaver G.R.,Ecosystem Center | Batzli G.O.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Research Letters | Year: 2011

To determine the role lemmings play in structuring plant communities and their contribution to the 'greening of the Arctic', we measured plant cover and biomass in 50 + year old lemming exclosures and control plots in the coastal tundra near Barrow, Alaska. The response of plant functional types to herbivore exclusion varied among land cover types. In general, the abundance of lichens and bryophytes increased with the exclusion of lemmings, whereas graminoids decreased, although the magnitude of these responses varied among land cover types. These results suggest that sustained lemming activity promotes a higher biomass of vascular plant functional types than would be expected without their presence and highlights the importance of considering herbivory when interpreting patterns of greening in the Arctic. In light of the rapid environmental change ongoing in the Arctic and the potential regional to global implications of this change, further exploration regarding the long-term influence of arvicoline rodents on ecosystem function (e.g.carbon and energy balance) should be considered a research priority. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Nelson J.A.,Florida State University | Nelson J.A.,Ecosystem Center | Stallings C.D.,Florida State University | Stallings C.D.,University of South Florida | And 2 more authors.
Ecosystems | Year: 2013

We evaluated the potential contribution of allochthonous biomass subsidies to the upper trophic levels of offshore food webs in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM). We made this evaluation considering nitrogen, an essential and often limiting nutrient in coastal ecosystems, to estimate the potential production of within-ecosystem biomass relative to the known import of biomass from an adjacent seagrass-dominated ecosystem. When adjusted for trophic transfer efficiency, we found the biomass subsidy from a single species (pinfish, Lagodon rhomboides) from nearshore seagrass habitat to the offshore GOM to be greater than the amount of nitrogen exported by two major rivers and local submarine ground water discharge. Our calculations show that seagrass-derived biomass accounts for approximately 25% of the total potential production in the northeastern GOM. This estimate is in agreement with a previous study that found 18.5-25% of the biomass in a predatory reef fish was derived from seagrass biomass inputs. These results indicate that all of the sources we consider account for the majority of the nitrogen available to the food web in the northeastern GOM. Our approach could be adapted to other coupled ecosystems to determine the relative importance of biomass subsidies to coastal ocean food webs. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Frey S.D.,University of New Hampshire | Lee J.,One Shields Avenue | Melillo J.M.,Ecosystem Center | Six J.,One Shields Avenue | Six J.,ETH Zurich
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2013

Soils are the largest repository of organic carbon (C) in the terrestrial biosphere and represent an important source of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, releasing 60-75 Pg C annually through microbial decomposition of organic materials. A primary control on soil CO2 flux is the efficiency with which the microbial community uses C. Despite its critical importance to soil-atmosphere CO2 exchange, relatively few studies have examined the factors controlling soil microbial efficiency. Here, we measured the temperature response of microbial efficiency in soils amended with substrates varying in lability. We also examined the temperature sensitivity of microbial efficiency in response to chronic soil warming in situ. We find that the efficiency with which soil microorganisms use organic matter is dependent on both temperature and substrate quality, with efficiency declining with increasing temperatures for more recalcitrant substrates. However, the utilization efficiency of a more recalcitrant substrate increased at higher temperatures in soils exposed to almost two decades of warming 5°C above ambient. Our work suggests that climate warming could alter the decay dynamics of more stable organic matter compounds, thereby having a positive feedback to climate that is attenuated by a shift towards a more efficient microbial community in the longer term. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Yang X.,Brown University | Yang X.,Ecosystem Center | Mustard J.F.,Brown University | Tang J.,Ecosystem Center | Xu H.,University of Minnesota
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences | Year: 2012

[1] Changes of vegetation phenology in response to climate change in the temperate forests have been well documented recently and have important implications on the regional and global carbon and water cycles. Predicting the impact of changing phenology on terrestrial ecosystems requires an accurate phenology model. Although species-level phenology models have been tested using a small number of vegetation species, they are rarely examined at the regional level. In this study, we used remotely sensed phenology and meteorological data to parameterize the species-level phenology models. We used a remotely sensed vegetation index (Two-band Enhanced Vegetation Index, EVI2) derived from the Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 8-day reflectance product from 2000 to 2010 of New England, United States to calculate remotely sensed vegetation phenology (start/end of season, or SOS/EOS). The SOS/EOS and the daily mean air temperature data from weather stations were used to parameterize three budburst models and one senescence model. We compared the relative strengths of the models to predict vegetation phenology and selected the best model to reconstruct the "landscape phenology" in New England from year 1960 to 2010. Of the three budburst models tested, the spring warming model showed the best performance with an averaged Root Mean Square Deviation (RMSD) of 4.59 days. The Akaike Information Criterion supported the spring warming model in all the weather stations. For senescence modeling, the Delpierre model was better than a null model (the averaged phenology of each weather station, averaged model efficiency = 0.33) and has a RMSD of 8.05 days. A retrospective analysis using the spring warming model suggests a statistically significant advance of SOS in New England from 1960 to 2010 averaged as 0.143 days per year (p = 0.015). EOS calculated using the Delpierre model and growing season length showed no statistically significant advance or delay between 1960 and 2010 in this region. These results suggest the applicability of species-level phenology models at the regional level (and potentially terrestrial biosphere models) and the feasibility of using these models in reconstructing and predicting vegetation phenology. © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Ren W.,Auburn University | Tian H.,Auburn University | Xu X.,Auburn University | Liu M.,Auburn University | And 5 more authors.
Tellus, Series B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology | Year: 2011

The spatial and temporal patterns of CO2 and CH4 fluxes in China's croplands were investigated and attributed to multifactor environmental changes using the agricultural module of the Dynamic Land Ecosystem Model (DLEM), a highly integrated process-based ecosystem model. During 1980-2005 modelled results indicated that China's croplands acted as a carbon sink with an average carbon sequestration rate of 33.4TgCyr-1 (1 Tg = 1012 g). Both the highest net CO2 uptake rate and the largest CH4 emission rate were found in southeast region of China's croplands. Of primary influences were land-cover and land-use change, atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen deposition, which accounted for 76%, 42% and 17% of the total carbon sequestration in China's croplands during the study period, respectively. The total carbon losses due to elevated ozone and climate variability/change were equivalent to 27% and 9% of the total carbon sequestration, respectively. Our further analysis indicated that nitrogen fertilizer application accounted for 60% of total national carbon uptake in cropland, whereas changes in paddy field areas mainly determined the variability of CH4 emissions. Our results suggest that improving air quality by means such as reducing ozone concentration and optimizing agronomic practices can enhance carbon sequestration capacity of China's croplands. ©2011 The Authors Tellus B©2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Tian H.,Auburn University | Xu X.,Auburn University | Lu C.,Auburn University | Liu M.,Auburn University | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences | Year: 2011

China's terrestrial ecosystems have been recognized as an atmospheric CO2 sink; however, it is uncertain whether this sink can alleviate global warming given the fluxes of CH4 and N2O. In this study, we used a process-based ecosystem model driven by multiple environmental factors to examine the net warming potential resulting from net exchanges of CO2, CH4, and N2O between China's terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere during 1961-2005. In the past 45 years, China's terrestrial ecosystems were found to sequestrate CO2 at a rate of 179.3 Tg C yr-1 with a 95% confidence range of (62.0 Tg C yr-1, 264.9 Tg C yr-1) while emitting CH4 and N2O at rates of 8.3 Tg C yr-1 with a 95% confidence range of (3.3 Tg C yr-1, 12.4 Tg C yr-1) and 0.6 Tg N yr -1 with a 95% confidence range of (0.2 Tg N yr-1, 1.1 Tg N yr-1), respectively. When translated into global warming potential, it is highly possible that China's terrestrial ecosystems mitigated global climate warming at a rate of 96.9 Tg CO2eq yr-1 (1 Tg = 1012 g), substantially varying from a source of 766.8 Tg CO 2eq yr-1 in 1997 to a sink of 705.2 Tg CO2eq yr-1 in 2002. The southeast and northeast of China slightly contributed to global climate warming; while the northwest, north, and southwest of China imposed cooling effects on the climate system. Paddy land, followed by natural wetland and dry cropland, was the largest contributor to national warming potential; forest, followed by woodland and grassland, played the most significant role in alleviating climate warming. Our simulated results indicate that CH4 and N2O emissions offset approximately 84.8% of terrestrial CO2 sink in China during 1961-2005. This study suggests that the relieving effects of China's terrestrial ecosystems on climate warming through sequestering CO2 might be gradually offset by increasing N2O emission, in combination with CH4 emission. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

Algar C.K.,Ecosystem Center | Boudreau B.P.,Dalhousie University | Barry M.A.,Dalhousie University
Geophysical Research Letters | Year: 2011

Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, and marine and wetland sediments constitute significant sources to the atmosphere. This flux is dominated by the release of bubbles, and quantitative prediction of this bubble flux has been elusive because of the lack of a mechanistic model. Our previous work has shown that sediments behave as elastic fracturing solids during bubble growth and rise. We now further argue that bubbles can open previously formed, partially annealed, rise tracts (fractures) and that this mechanism can account for the observed preferential release at low tides in marine settings. When this mechanical model is applied to data from Cape Lookout Bight, NC (USA), the results indicate that methanogenic bubbles released at this site do indeed follow previously formed rise tracts and that the calculated release rates are entirely consistent with the rise of multiple bubbles on tidal time scales. Our model forms a basis for making predictions of future bubble fluxes from warming sediments under the influence of climate change. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

Algar C.K.,Ecosystem Center | Vallino J.J.,Ecosystem Center
Aquatic Microbial Ecology | Year: 2014

We present an ecosystem model that describes the biogeochemistry of a sediment nitrate reducing microbial community. In the model, the microbial community is represented as a distributed metabolic network. Biogeochemical pathways are controlled through the synthesis and allocation of biological structure that serves to catalyze each process. Allocation is determined by way of a thermodynamically constrained optimization according to the principle of maximum entropy production (MEP). According to the MEP principle, ecosystems will organize so as to maximize the dissipation of free energy based upon the available resources (nutrients and electron donors and acceptors). In the model, 3 nitrate reduction pathways, viz. heterotrophic denitrification, anammox, and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium, compete for electron acceptors (nitrate and nitrite). The model predicts switches in the dominant nitrate cycling pathways based upon the ratio of carbon to nitrate supply. An advantage of this approach over a traditional organism-centric kinetic approach is that the Monod growth parameters, maximum uptake rate (νmax), and half saturation (kM) constants are determined during the optimization procedure as opposed to parameters specified a priori. Such a model is therefore useful for applications where these kinetic parameters are unknown and difficult to measure, such as the marine subsurface, or when ecosystems undergo large-scale environmental perturbations resulting in shifts in the dominant organisms. © The authors 2014.

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