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NASA Biodiversity Research & Ecological Forecasting: Answering the New Dismal Science Woody Turner University of Maryland Inn and Conference Center August.

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Presentation on theme: "NASA Biodiversity Research & Ecological Forecasting: Answering the New Dismal Science Woody Turner University of Maryland Inn and Conference Center August."— Presentation transcript:

1 NASA Biodiversity Research & Ecological Forecasting: Answering the New Dismal Science Woody Turner University of Maryland Inn and Conference Center August 21, 2006 Joint Workshop on NASA Biodiversity, Terrestrial Ecology, and Related Applied Sciences

2 Workshop Goals Where is biodiversity science going over the next decade or so & what is NASA’s role? How can we transition research activities to operations and decision support through the Ecological Forecasting and other programs?

3 Source: Wikipedia Thomas Malthus (1766-1834): Economics=Dismal Science? 1798, An Essay on the Principle of Population Unchecked populations increase geometrically but food supplies increase arithmetically Predicted that population would outstrip food supply in mid 19 th Century Big influence on Darwin and Wallace - Natural Selection Danger in extrapolating existing trends into future Economic growth continues to pull millions from poverty Yet, at what cost?

4 Conservation Biology: The New Dismal Science? Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Vol. 1 Extinction rate 100x background rate 12% to 52% of species in well-studied taxa threatened with extinction under Red List We are the cause Climate change potentially dominant driver Conservation Biology 20 th Anniversary “… nature is still losing badly.”

5 Definition of Biodiversity from GBA (1995) is “the total diversity and variability of living things and of the systems of which they are a part”- includes genetic, organismal, and ecological components Main Message: Biodiversity science needs NASA observations and models to understand patterns and processes at landscape to global scales.

6 T 2002 2010201220142015 2004 Reduced flux uncertainties; global carbon dynamics Funded Unfunded Global Ocean Carbon / Particle Abundance N. America’s carbon budget quantified Global Atmospheric CO 2 (OCO) 2006 2008 Reduced flux uncertainties; coastal carbon dynamics NA Carbon Global C Cycle T = Technology development Regional carbon sources/sinks quantified for planet IPCC Effects of tropical deforestation quantified; uncertainties in tropical carbon source reduced = Field Campaign Physiology & Functional Types Goals: Global productivity and land cover change at fine resolution; biomass and carbon fluxes quantified; useful ecological forecasts and improved climate change projections Vegetation 3-D Structure, Biomass, & Disturbance T Terrestrial carbon stocks & species habitat characterized Models w/improved ecosystem functions High-Resolution Atmospheric CO 2 Sub-regional sources/sinks Integrated global analyses CH 4 sources characterized and quantified Report P Vegetation (AVHRR, MODIS) Ocean Color (SeaWiFS, MODIS) Land Cover (Landsat) LDCMLand Cover (OLI) Vegetation, Fire (AVHRR, MODIS) Ocean/Land (VIIRS/NPP) Ocean/Land (VIIRS/NPOESS) Models & Computing Capacity Case Studies Process Understanding Improvements: Human-Ecosystems-Climate Interactions (Model-Data Fusion, Assimilation); Global Air-Sea Flux T Partnership N. American Carbon Program Land Use Change in Amazonia Global CH 4 ; Wetlands, Flooding & Permafrost Global C Cycle Knowledge Base 2002: Global productivity and land cover resolution coarse; Large uncertainties in biomass, fluxes, disturbance, and coastal events Systematic Observations Process controls; errors in sink reduced Coastal Carbon Southern Ocean Carbon Program, Air-Sea CO 2 Flux Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Roadmap Common Denominator: Ecosystem Function

7 BIOGEOCHEMISTRY BIODIVERSITY “Terra Incognita” Biodiversity mediates ecosystem functioning, including the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements, as well as environmental response to disturbances. ECOSYSTEM FUNCTION ECOSYSTEM STRUCTURE Why NASA Needs Biodiversity

8 (Source: Biodiversity constitutes the players in the game of life. You Can’t Follow the Game of Ecosystems without a Scorecard


10 Visual differences in benthic particulate matter after removing P. mariae (right) compared with the intact fish assemblage (left).

11 (CREDIT: MARTIN WIKELSKI/PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, Science 313: 780) Source: Source: Source: Dan Costa UCSC/TOPP (TOPP web site) Some of the Tools Reconciliation of the patterns in biodiversity that are observed at different scales may provide significant insights into their determinants. Indeed, it is increasingly apparent that knowledge of the roles of pattern and process at different scales is at the very heart of an understanding of global variation in biodiversity. Kevin J. Gaston in Nature 405:220-227 (2000)

12 Helicobacterium pylorii Genome from: Graphic compiled from various sources by Tim Newman and on Web at: But There Are Still More Tools: We Can No Longer Ignore Molecular Biology! WHY? Because molecular techniques will (1) lead us directly to the processes driving ecosystem functioning; (2) allow us to capture ecosystem & biodiversity change (i.e., evolution) in action; & (3), through phylogeny, they are our best window into history and historical effects!

13 Little Rock Lake in Wisconsin; produced by Neo D. Martinez of San Francisco State University,Neo D. Martinez Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies Models Unite Observations of Pattern and Link Them to Processes Models of trophic webs are a key tool in that they not only link the ecological players but also connect physical and biological realms: Follow the Energy!

14 Ecological Forecasting = using observations and models to predict the impacts of environmental change, whether natural or anthropogenic, on the ecosystems that sustain us. One example (or all we need to do) is: GCM  Regional CM (~1 km grid)  Biogeochemical Cycling Model  Ecophysiological Model  Trophic Model  PHVA Model Result: Impact of climate variability and change on species of concern (be they T&E species, invasives, pathogens, whatever)! Is this foolish? Naïve? Overly simplistic? Perhaps. Linking models, much less coupling them, is not trivial! Except many of you are already doing pieces of this!

15 One Way Forward Mind the gaps! Build bridges! –Target your work at the gaps between those different modeling approaches to make the most progress (e.g., Behrenfeld’s focus on the C growth rate term as a bridge between biogeochemical & physiological approaches) –Example of another marine challenge: we are linking regional climate to biogeochemical carbon models (a la JPL/Chao- UME/Chai) for primary producers (phytoplankton); however linking this to the models of changes in zooplankton, and thereby getting to the next step on the trophic web, is a major hurdle—ultimate goal to go from climate to large fish What can we do here? –No one should leave this workshop without making an interdisciplinary connection! Seriously!

16 Some Key Science Questions How does biodiversity relate to the functioning of ecosystems? What are the effects of spatial scale on patterns of biodiversity? How do climate variability and change affect the abundance and distribution of organisms? How do ecosystems change in response to anthropogenic disturbances and how does biodiversity mediate these changes? How does the level of energy in an ecosystem affect its biodiversity? What is the role of ecosystem physical structure in promoting and maintaining biodiversity? Are the organisms in communities fungible, e.g.: how stable are trophic webs at retaining their function? What are the hottest of the hot spots for retaining maximum species diversity, i.e.: is there taxonomic covariance in species richness and abundance and, if so, where is it? What are the best RS proxies for ecosystem diversity and ecosystem health (e.g., NDVI, NPP, soil moisture, SST/SSH & location of fronts, vegetation structural complexity, rates of disturbance, rates of upwelling, etc.)? And what scales of sensing are necessary? Can we catch evolution in action by first correlating environmental changes at landscape/broader scales with genomic/proteomic changes? What is the role of history in establishing local and regional biodiversity?

17 Fig. 2. Maps of the nine global biodiversity conservation priority templates: CE, crisis ecoregions (21); BH, biodiversity hot spots [(11), updated by (39)]; EBA, endemic bird areas (15); CPD, centers of plant diversity (12); MC, megadiversity countries (13); G200, global 200 ecoregions [(16), updated by (54)]; HBWA, high-biodiversity wilderness areas (14); FF, frontier forests (19); LW, last of the wild (20). [Brooks, T. et al. in Science (2006) 313:58 – 61] Next Step 2010?

18 Norse and Carlton (Conservation Biology 17:1475-1476) used in August 2003 to determine how many WWW sites mentioned biodiversity. Biodiversity received 3,100,000 mentions Molecular Biology – 1,550,000 mentions Climate Change – 1,460,000 mentions Relativity – 917,000 mentions Oceanography – 624,000 mentions The Beatles – 2,800,000 mentions George W. Bush – 2,580,000 mentions Tiger Woods – 664,000 mentions Humans are very good at addressing problems we put our minds to! Dismal Science?

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