Annual review review

August 3, 2011 – 6:38 pm

I just went through the tables of contents for the last few years of Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics and poked around a few of the papers. Here are some cool things I read:

From a review by Yiqi Luo:

The coupled carbon-climate models reported in the literature all demonstrate a positive feedback between terrestrial carbon cycles and climate warming. A primary mechanism underlying the modeled positive feedback is the kinetic sensitivity of photosynthesis and respiration to temperature. Field experiments, however, suggest much richer mechanisms driving ecosystem responses to climate warming, including extended growing seasons, enhanced nutrient availability, shifted species composition, and altered ecosystem-water dynamics.

I thought that was a nice summary of the reasoning behind a lot of climate change-focused research in ecology. Can we hope to uncover all of these mechanisms in every ecosystem before they occur on their own? Probably not, but there are some cool discoveries yet to be made that will probably alter forecasts of atmospheric carbon.

From a paper called The social lives of microbes:

It used to be assumed that bacteria and other microorganisms lived relatively independent unicellular lives, without the cooperative behaviors that have provoked so much interest in mammals, birds, and insects. However, a rapidly expanding body of research has completely overturned this idea, showing that microbes indulge in a variety of social behaviors involving complex systems of cooperation, communication, and synchronization.

Not really my area of research, but sounds awesome.

Biogeochemical mind-bender from Hedin et al. about why there is high N availability in tropical forests:

The putative source for tropical N richness—symbiotic N fixation—should, in theory, be physiologically down-regulated as internal pools of bioavailable N build.

Why does this not occur?! Their answer was basically that heterogeneity, particularly vertical heterogeneity throughout the canopy, leaves some areas N-limited. N fixers grow in those N-limited spots, bringing a lot of N into the system. Then when they die, those N-rich tissues rain down to fertilize the rest of the ecosystem.

  1. One Response to “Annual review review”

  2. Cool roundup, Anthony. I would’ve missed _The Social Lives of Microbes_ without it, and it’s a neat concept paper.

    By Sadie on Aug 4, 2011

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