ESA 99th Annual Meeting, August 10-15, 2014, Sacramento, CA

The 99th Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting will be held August 10-15, 2014 in Sacramento California at the Sacramento Convention Center (SCC). The theme for this year’s meeting is ‘From Oceans to Mountains.’ Below are descriptions of sessions that may be of interest to Novus Participants.

Field Trips

Field Trip 4: Tribal Land and Resource Management in the Sacramento Valley-Delta: Fire and Culture
Saturday August 9, 9:00am-5:00 pm, J Street Entrance, SCC
Registration Fee: $57
California tribal cultures historically utilized fire to achieve various resource objectives. These similar objectives are desired today by contemporary tribes dependent on fire to promote habitat conditions which foster valued resources. Research that incorporates tribal traditional ecological knowledge is critical to evaluate fire effects and achievement of desired ecological conditions.  Participants will tour research plots at the Stone Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Cosumnes River Preserve in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to evaluate changes in cultural use quality for the tribally valued habitats and basketry and food resources. Many of these habitats and resources are critically important to threatened or endangered wildlife. After the touring the Preserve, participants will tour the California State Indian Museum. Field trip leaders will explain the importance of fire management and tribal traditional knowledge pertaining to the material culture and livelihoods of California tribes.

Field Trip 18: The 2013 Rim Fire – Forest Management Influencing Fire Ecology
Friday, August 14, 7:00am-7:00pm, J Street Entrance, SCC
Registration Fee: $145
This is a two-day field trip to Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park to witness and discuss the impacts and behavior of the 2013 Rim Fire as it crossed vegetation types, land ownership, and management practices. At over 257,000 acres, the Rim Fire is the Sierra Nevada’s largest recorded fire and it burned through an elevation gradient of foothill chaparral, mixed conifer, a sequoia grove, red fir forest, ending in the lodgepole pine. It both created and destroyed habitat for wildlife species ranging from the California spotted owl to pacific fisher to the black-backed woodpecker. It produced smoke that affected air quality in communities nearby as well as those over 100 miles away. The fire moved through land managed by two federal agencies with different management practices and objectives for fire management as well as for rehabilitation and recovery. Topics to be covered include: fire ecology (understanding fire severity, fire size, and the components of this large fire), wildlife habitat, wildfires in the context of climate change (is this the new normal?), forest management, air quality, and land management practices of two federal agencies.

Ignite Sessions
What are Ignite Sessions?

IGN2: From Mountains to Coasts: Ecosystems in the Third National Climate Assessment
Monday August 11, 3:30-5:00 pm, 313 SCC
Note: This session includes a panel with Novus Steering Committee member Michelle Mack, titled Climate change, ecosystems, biodiversity and ecosystem services

The United States National Climate Assessment (NCA) collects, integrates, and assesses observations and research from around the country, helping to show how the climate is changing and what it means for peoples’ lives, livelihoods, and future. The Third NCA Report (released in spring 2014), the most comprehensive assessment of climate change science, impacts, and responses in the United States to date, analyzes the current and future impacts of climate change on a number of socioeconomic and environmental sectors. The report discusses numerous impacts of climate change on ecosystems, including shifts in biodiversity and location of species, disruptions in ecosystem structures and functions, inability of ecosystems to adapt to change, and alterations to the capacity of ecosystems to moderate the consequences of disturbances. Because of the importance of ecosystems to humanity, impacts will affect the fisheries, drinking water, air quality, croplands, and iconic species and landscapes that support jobs, economic growth, health, and human well-being. This session will highlight major findings from the report about climate change’s effects on ecosystems and sectors of concern and include a moderated discussion that will allow participants to ask questions about the NCA process and products and offer feedback on progress toward building assessment capacity across the US through a sustained NCA process.

IGN5: Sections and ESA Awards: Meet, Learn, and Connect with the ESA Sections! (Part 1 of 2)
Tuesday August 12, 1:30-3:00 pm, 313 SCC
Note: this session includes a panel with Novus Steering Committee member Phil Higuera, titled Why we study the past: Paleoecology in a time of rapid global change.
This proposal is intended as the first in a pair. A fast paced and fun session to meet and connect with the officers from many of the ESA’s twenty-six sections, learn about each section and its student awards, as well as other news about Section activity.. The IGNITE format will be a fun way for section officers to give short presentations on what their section activities are, what awards are offered, what are the areas of expertise of the section members, with which other sections they are most likely to collaborate, and reasons why membership in that section could further your ecological interests. In addition, each section Chairperson will explain and identify 1) the connections between their section and the social or natural sciences and 2) their most successful activities directed towards ecological education during the ESA meetings or at any other time. Our fast paced and lively event will highlight sections as your home in ESA.

Oral Sessions and Symposia

OOS5: Shrubland Resilience and Recovery After Disturbance
Monday August 11, 1:30-5:00 pm, 306 SCC
California is dominated by impressive shrublands called chaparral. Repeated disturbances combined with climatic changes are causing shrublands to be lost and sometimes replaced by invasive species. Chronic anthropogenic perturbation coupled with global climate change may tilt the balance of shrubland persistence toward imperiled status as has happened with the tall grass prairie and old growth forests. Information voids include where and when our shrublands are at risk and how to refine parameters for recognizing the tipping points when natural regeneration can no longer be sustained. Furthermore, development of protocol on how to re-establish shrublands once lost is critical. Understanding the global to physiological criteria needed for survival of these generally resilient ecosystems will contribute to conservation efforts of other ecosystems and species at risk. In this session, global change threats to shrubland resilience will approach shrubland persistence with regard to large-scale changes. Perspectives at the landscape level will show how the resilience of sclerophyllous shrublands depend on fire intervals, habitat and rainfall. A closer look at physiological resilience of shrubs to drought, wildfire, and freezing will delve into plant level strategies that improve survival under environmental stresses. Restoration efforts made in shrub community evolution in soil bioengineering projects will demonstrate how to approach shrubland recovery for improving multiple ecosystem services.

OOS 6: Ecological Drought in California Forests: Linking Climate Science and Resource Management
Monday August 11, 1:30-5:00pm, 307, SCC
Ecological drought has long been a critical concern in the west. California, like the rest of the arid and semi-arid west, has a long history of drought cycles with large impacts on forest disturbance, recruitment, and structure. From the Sierras to the sea, California forests are under the triple stresses of increased fire hazard through heavy fuel loads, increasing ignition pressure because of proximity to people, and increasing drought stress. Resource managers are faced with the difficult task of designing climate-smart adaptation strategies for forest management. Yet, there remains, and will remain, much uncertainty in climate model projections, limited capacity to downscale these models to capture topographic complexities of air drainages and local precipitation patterns, uncertain ecological responses to droughts, and complex ecological responses to multiple and often interacting drivers of forest change. The session includes a climatologist with long experience in working with resource managers who will discuss the state of the art and uncertainties in climate downscaling, followed by a series of presentations on various aspects and consequences of ecological drought, ending with perspectives on resource management.

COS4: Climate Change: Plants I
Monday August 11, 1:30-5:00 pm, 309/310 SCC
This session includes a talk from the lab of Novus Steering Committee member Michelle Mack titled Fire severity effects on larch forest regrowth and permafrost thaw in northeastern Siberia

COS 13: Paleoecology
Monday August 11, 1:30-5:00pm, Carmel AB, Hyatt Regency Hotel
This session includes a talk from the lab of Novus Steering Commitee Member Dan Gavin, titled Wildfires and western spruce budworm outbreaks: A multi-century dendrochronological record of forest disturbance interaction in the interior Pacific Northwest, and a talk from the lab of Novus Steering Committee member Kendra McLauchlan titled Paleoecology of a modern Pinus albicaulis population in Grand Teton National Park, WY and two talks from the lab of Novus Steering Committee member Phil Higuera, titled Spatiotemporal trends in Alaska tundra fires over the Late Quaternary and Fire as a catalyst for rapid ecological change in the Puget Lowlands over the Holocene.

OOS7: Understanding Climate, Disturbance, and Forest Dynamics from Regional to Individual Tree Scales in the Sierra Nevada
Tuesday August 12, 8:00-11:30 am, 202 SCC
 Climatic influences on wildfire and forest productivity have the potential to alter forest distribution, composition, structure, and function at regional to individual tree spatial scales. Changes in disturbance regimes and forest productivity alter the biophysical and biogeochemical properties of forest systems, which in turn can feedback on climate. Understanding the relationship between climate, disturbance, and forest dynamics requires regional to individual tree scale investigation to capture both top-down and bottom-up effects. Furthermore, understanding these relations at multiple spatial scales is important to understand how current and future forest management will impact forest dynamics and climate feedbacks going forward. This session will include speakers who use a range of approaches (e.g. empirical studies, statistical and simulation modeling) to investigate how climate, disturbance, and management influence forest dynamics. The session includes regional simulations of climate effects on fire probability, regional simulations of climate effects on forest productivity and its interaction with insects and fire, stand to regional scale effects of the interaction between fire and forest restoration efforts, stand-scale above and belowground carbon dynamics with fire, and climate effects on species-level productivity and regeneration.

OOS9: Understanding Woody Plant Encroachment as a Coupled Human and Natural System
Tuesday August 12, 8:00-11:30 am, 204 SCC
Note: This session includes a talk by Kansas State University professors on land management practices at Konza Prairie Biological Station, titled The importance of past and recent land use policies in woody plant expansion in Eastern Kansas.
After centuries existing as grasslands rangeland systems worldwide have been transforming into woodlands and shrublands. This phenomenon, known as woody plant encroachment (WPE), is especially prevalent in the Southern Great Plains of the United States where it is estimated to be 5 to 7 times greater than in other regions of the country. The rapid ecological transition is driven largely by human-related elimination of fire from the system—both because overgrazing has reduced fuel available for fire to propagate and because of active fire suppression the WPE has resulted in significant changes to primary production, trophic structure, biological diversity, and nutrient cycling of rangeland systems. Rangeland systems with high densities of WPE provide fewer ecosystem services including changes in hydrological regimes and forage for livestock. Further, the woody-plant dominated ecosystem state is highly resilient; it is extremely difficult and cost prohibitive to covert established woodlands back to grasslands. This, in turn, has significant social and economic implications and impacts on human well being and highlights the need to understand the social and ecological factors that facilitate or inhibit this widespread environmental change. A new understanding of WPE is needed that treats it as complex social-ecological system that encompasses the interactions of physical, ecological and social systems. This symposium explores the opportunities and challenges of addressing woody plant encroachment as a complex problem with both ecological and social dimensions.

Sym5: Extreme Weather and Climate Events: Understanding and Adapting to Ecosystem Responses
Tuesday August 12, 8:00-11:30 am, Gardenia, Sheraton Hotel
A key facet of climate change is increased climatic variability. A special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued in 2012 recognized that some types of extreme weather and climate events are likely to increase in frequency or magnitude.  Despite widespread recognition of increasing climatic variability and advancements in our ability to quantify and predict such variability at regional scales, our knowledge of how ecosystems will respond to these changes is more limited. Some ecosystems may exhibit high resistance because dominant species and communities can persist through extreme events, emerging largely intact and capable of sustaining ecosystem processes when conditions ameliorate. Others may experience significant shifts in species composition, but retain the capacity to sustain desired ecosystem services.  In the western United States, recent droughts have resulted in extensive perennial plant mortality in a wide range of ecosystems, but there is substantial uncertainty regarding subsequent development of altered species assemblages and potential changes in ecosystem function and services. In this symposium, we will present a series of case studies examining ecosystem responses to extreme weather and climate events in the western United States. Our ability to predict ecosystem responses to extreme events, in particular the potential feedbacks with disturbance regimes, has fundamental consequences for climate change adaptation by land owners and management agencies.

COS41: Community Disturbance and Recovery I
Tuesday August 12, 1:30-5:00 pm, Regency Blrm B, Hyatt Regency Hotel

COS57: Community Disturbance and Recovery II
Wednesday August 13, 8:00-11:30 am, 309/310 SCC

OOS27: Climate Warming, Changing Disturbance Regimes, and Forest Resilience
Wednesday August 13, 1:30-5:00 pm, 203 SCC
Note: this session includes a talk by Novus Steering Committee member Michelle Mack, titled Plant functional traits reinforce alternate successional trajectories in Alaskan boreal forest and a talk by Novus Steering Committee member Phil Higuera titled Sensitivity and resilience of high-severity fire regimes to climatic variability from centuries to millennia.
How forest ecosystems will respond to novel disturbance regimes interacting with warmer climate is poorly understood but incredibly important to anticipate. Observations of past forest change and predictions from ecological theory suggest that, against a backdrop of changing environmental conditions, disturbances can trigger rapid change in forest ecosystems. Novel disturbance regimes may disrupt forest ecosystems and the processes that maintain them, and initiate new pathways of change by affecting post-disturbance community assembly and succession. Furthermore, changes to one disturbance regime may alter the likelihood or severity of another (i.e., linked disturbances) or produce compound disturbances that alter ecosystem resilience (i.e., the capacity of the system to recover following disturbance). The combination of changing climate conditions, altered disturbance regimes, and sensitivity of successional pathways to initial conditions creates a strong potential for rapid and non-linear shifts in forest ecosystem states. The session will explore the mechanisms, dynamics, and implications of disturbance-mediated changes in forest resilience across different forest ecosystems. Presentations will tackle questions such as: What is the role of climate change in altering disturbance regimes and post-disturbance ecosystem recovery? How do disturbances interact across forest landscapes? What are the key thresholds, non-linearities, or leverage points in forest system dynamics? Under what conditions do disturbances trigger state changes in forest ecosystems? Examples will be drawn from a range of forests with an emphasis on northern and temperate forests of North America. We aim to identify commonalities that may lead to a more explicit framework for anticipating and managing forest state changes likely to occur with continued climate warming.

OOS34: From Bacteria to the Biosphere: Nitrogen Isotope Applications Across Systems and Scales
Thursday August 14, 8:00-11:30 am, 203 SCC
Note: This session includes a talk by Novus Steering Committee Member Steven Perakis, titled Temperate forest patterns, gradients in 15N/14N, and N fixation effects. and a talk by Novus Steering Committee Member Kendra McLauchlan titled Paleobiogeochemical applications of nitrogen isotopes: terrestrial and lacustrine records from 27 to 15,000 years.
The ratio of heavy to light nitrogen isotopes can be used to examine the N cycle, across scale ranging from bacteria to the global ecological system. The fact that the 15N:14N ratio changes based on rates of biological activity can be used to infer biological processes that are otherwise difficult to measure. We propose a session to address the past, present and future applications of nitrogen isotopes in ecological research. The proposed session will begin with an overview of nitrogen isotopes, will be followed by talks focusing on specific ecosystems, and then focusing on different time periods. Speakers discuss research in terrestrial, oceanic, and land/aquatic interfaces, paleo reconstruction using nitrogen isotopes, and modeling applications.

OOS 36: Drought and Tree Mortality: Linking Experimental Results and Observations with Predictive Models
Thursday August 14, 8:00am-11:30am, 304/305 SCC
Recent advances in ecological and physiological research scaling from individual plant to ecosystems and across geographic ranges from coasts to mountains, deserts to the tropics have progressed our understanding of the complex process through which trees die from drought and temperature stress. Much comparative work in drought response across species and ecosystems has occurred in the past few years. Recent and forthcoming experiments, observational and modeling studies across plant functional types have begun to illuminate the interlinked changes in tree carbon status, water relations, and biotic agent damage with the goal of improving prediction of which species and regions are likely to die in future climates. Despite recent progress, major uncertainties remain both in how trees succumb to drought and biotic agent attack and in understanding cross-species and cross-biome differences necessary to inform modeling efforts. This session covers a mix of causes and consequences of drought-induced mortality, as well as modeling, experimental and observational studies. The session will include cross-species comparisons and meta-analysis techniques, research on the physiology of drought-induced tree mortality including the effects of increased atmospheric CO2, temperature, and drought, and recent work applying insights from recent mortality research into models that seek to predict forest loss with climate change.

OOS38: Advancing Knowledge of Alpine and Arctic Treeline Ecotones and Responses to Environmental Change
Thursday August 14, 8:00-11:30am, 307 SCC
Note: this session includes a talk from the lab of Novus Steering Committee member Michelle Mack, titled Getting to the root of the matter: The role of mycorrhizal fungi in post-fire seedling establishment at treeline.
Treeline research has been advancing rapidly, motivated in part by the need to predict land surface feedbacks to regional and global climate change, water resources in mountain regions, and impacts of environmental change on high latitude and high elevation biodiversity. Upper elevation and northern treeline ecotones are boundary zones between forest and arctic or alpine treeless zones. Although presence of upright trees has defined the treeline per se, treeline is more accurately described as an ecotone structured by complex interactions among vegetation, soils, animals, climate, snow, topography, and disturbance regimes. Responses of this ecotone to environmental change have been observed, but complex lags and feedbacks — in addition to topographic influences that confound of responses in mountain treelines — challenge predictions of change. One objective of the session is to bridge the historical divide between arctic and alpine treeline research. The session comprises talks on paleoclimate and paleoecology, tree demography, ecophysiology, modeling treeline, plant-animal interactions, experimental ecology, ecosystem processes, and the role of disturbance in structuring treeline.

COS99: Fire
Thursday August 14, 8:00-11:30 am, Regency Blrm F, Hyatt Regency Hotel
Note: this session includes a talk from the lab of Novus Steering Committee member Phil Higuera, titled Post-fire tree recruitment in the US Northern Rockies: The influence of seed source proximity and environmental conditions.

Sym20: Understanding and Managing Ecological Resilience to Natural Disasters in a Changing Environment
Thursday August 14, 1:30-5:00 pm, Gardenia, Sheraton Hotel
Floods, droughts, wildfires, extreme temperatures, and storms are important disturbances that shape ecosystems. These extreme events are increasingly costly to society, as human populations and infrastructure expand in areas vulnerable to natural disasters. There is an urgent need to: (1) understand the role of ecosystem processes in modulating the frequency, intensity, and impact of disturbances; (2) understand the processes that enhance recovery and restoration of social-ecological systems after extreme events; (3) understand how environmental changes are altering disturbance regimes and ecosystem resilience to disturbances; and (4) integrate this ecological knowledge with management and policy. The goal of this symposium is to synthesize these four points across disturbance types and ecosystems, and develop a framework that can guide management for resilience in the face of natural disasters. Talks will focus on different disturbance types (coastal storms, drought, wildfires, heat waves) in distinct ecosystems (coastal, grassland, forested, urban), as well as links between science and policy.

OOS48: Understanding the Structure and Function of Fire Maintained Ecosystems: Honoring the Research Influences of Dr. Robert Mitchell
Friday August 15, 8:00-11:30 am, 203 SCC
Frequent low-intensity fires maintain the structure and function of ecosystems with an evolutionary history of chronic fires whereas fire suppression transforms the structure and modifies the function. Fires burn as much as 4 million km2 globally and release as much as 2-3 Pg of C annually, effecting ecosystem to global carbon dynamics. Fire also influences carbon dynamics by altering the structure of the above- and belowground allocation and investment of plant C due to changes in life form (woody trees and shrubs versus grasses). While climate, particularly temperature and moisture, sets limits on the distribution and productivity of the world’s biomes, fire resets systems far from their physiognomic limits. The influence that fire—or the lack of fire—exerts on ecosystem structure and function identifies it as a key management tool to conserve species and regulate ecosystem development. Dr. Robert Mitchell dedicated his life to contributing toward a better understanding and appreciation of the structure and function of ecosystems maintained by fire. The objective of this oral session is to bring together a series of researchers that focus their studies on understanding the structure and function of fire-maintained ecosystems with an emphasis on ecosystem carbon dynamics, resource allocation patterns, restoration leading to enhanced biodiversity, and ecological management practices.

COS142: Temperate Forests
Friday August 15, 8:00-11:30 am, 317 SCC

Poster Sessions

PS25: Forest Habitats
Tuesday August 12, 4:30-6:30 pm, Exhibit Hall, SCC
Note: this session includes a poster from the lab of Novus Steering Committee member Michelle Mack, titled Radial growth and δ13C responses of black spruce to climate.

PS32: Community Disturbance and Recovery
Wednesday August 13, 4:30-6:30 pm, Exhibit Hall, SCC

PS53: Fire
Thursday August 14, 4:30-6:30 pm, Exhibit Hall, SCC


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