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Wednesday, September 21 • 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Ecosystem responses to rainfall variability

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Session description:
Rainfall is a major driver of biodiversity patterns and ecosystem processes. Both rainfall amounts and variability will shift in the coming decades. LTER sites will differ in their responses to these changes, but the underlying mechanisms driving this variation are still being tested. Theory predicting how ecosystems will respond to rainfall variability will benefit from knowledge from experiments at multiple sites, and cross-site comparisons and syntheses.

In this workshop, we will bring together LTER scientists conducting research on rainfall variability across LTER sites, with three primary aims: 1) to share knowledge of existing efforts to examine responses to drought, deluge, and altered variability, including legacies to these changes. 2) improve methods by learning about innovation and methodological artifacts across sites. 3) synthesize cross-site patterns in drivers and responses by learning about findings at other sites and coordinated experiments.

Sept 8, 2022: updating with a format and speakers for this session:
We will have two blocks of about 45 minutes. Each block will consist of first 3-4 lightning talks (speakers and titles below), then facilitated discussion. Looking forward to it! 

Block 1- Drought (~45 min)

5-min lightning talks:

o   Melinda Smith: Surprising variability in productivity losses with extreme drought in grasslands globally

o   Sarah Evans: KBS Rainout Experiment: Using land use history and soil manipulation to probe mechanisms of drought resilience

o   Amy Churchill: Impacts of summer drought in mesic savanna grasslands and old-fields at Cedar Creek

Brief Q & A, all speakers

Discussion 1 – groups of ~4. Prompts:

  • Briefly introduce yourself to your group
  • Describe what drought or rainfall variability studies you’ve done at your site, and what you found
  • What are the biggest methodological limitations of your study?
  • What are the biggest limitations to understanding rainfall responses at your site and as a field? How might we overcome some of these?

========5-10 min break=========

Block 2- Variability/deluge (~45 min)

5-min lightning talks:

o   Jennifer Rudgers: Interactions among nonstationary climate variables: Mean X Variance Experiment at SEV LTER

o   Alan Knapp: Intensification of the hydrologic cycle - How will ecosystems respond to more, less, and novel patterns of rainfall?

o   Caitlin Broderick: Long-term rainfall history drives legacies in tallgrass prairie ecosystem functioning

o   Tim Ohlert: Where does variability matter for grassland production?

Brief Q & A, all speakers

Discussion 2 – groups of ~4. Prompts:

  • Briefly introduce yourself to your group
  • Briefly describe what drought or rainfall variability studies you’ve done at your site, and what you found.
  • How can we generalize rainfall response across organisms, regions, etc?
  • How can we advance science on ecosystem response to rainfall? (new studies and different studies?, new comparisons across existing studies?)

 Report out to entire group

avatar for Melinda Smith

Melinda Smith

Professor, Colorado State University
avatar for Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Assistant Professor, Kellogg Biological Station LTER
microbial ecology, global change, drought, land use management and agriculture, diversity and inclusion, public communication and outreach

Wednesday September 21, 2022 3:30pm - 5:00pm PDT
04. Fred Farr Forum