skip to main content

Title: Toward a Generalizable Framework of Disturbance Ecology Through Crowdsourced Science
Disturbances fundamentally alter ecosystem functions, yet predicting their impacts remains a key scientific challenge. While the study of disturbances is ubiquitous across many ecological disciplines, there is no agreed-upon, cross-disciplinary foundation for discussing or quantifying the complexity of disturbances, and no consistent terminology or methodologies exist. This inconsistency presents an increasingly urgent challenge due to accelerating global change and the threat of interacting disturbances that can destabilize ecosystem responses. By harvesting the expertise of an interdisciplinary cohort of contributors spanning 42 institutions across 15 countries, we identified an essential limitation in disturbance ecology: the word ‘disturbance’ is used interchangeably to refer to both the events that cause, and the consequences of, ecological change, despite fundamental distinctions between the two meanings. In response, we developed a generalizable framework of ecosystem disturbances, providing a well-defined lexicon for understanding disturbances across perspectives and scales. The framework results from ideas that resonate across multiple scientific disciplines and provides a baseline standard to compare disturbances across fields. This framework can be supplemented by discipline-specific variables to provide maximum benefit to both inter- and intra-disciplinary research. To support future syntheses and meta-analyses of disturbance research, we also encourage researchers to be explicit in how they define more » disturbance drivers and impacts, and we recommend minimum reporting standards that are applicable regardless of scale. Finally, we discuss the primary factors we considered when developing a baseline framework and propose four future directions to advance our interdisciplinary understanding of disturbances and their social-ecological impacts: integrating across ecological scales, understanding disturbance interactions, establishing baselines and trajectories, and developing process-based models and ecological forecasting initiatives. Our experience through this process motivates us to encourage the wider scientific community to continue to explore new approaches for leveraging Open Science principles in generating creative and multidisciplinary ideas. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Award ID(s):
1749544
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10225378
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Volume:
9
ISSN:
2296-701X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Watt, Michael (Ed.)
    Purpose of Review Outbreaks of tree-killing bark beetles have reached unprecedented levels in conifer forests in the northern hemisphere and are expected to further intensify due to climate change. In parts of Europe, bark beetle outbreaks and efforts to manage them have even triggered social unrests and political instability. These events have increasingly challenged traditional responses to outbreaks, and highlight the need for a more comprehensive management framework. Recent Findings Several synthesis papers on different aspects of bark beetle ecology and management exist. However, our understanding of outbreak drivers and impacts, principles of ecosystem management, governance, and the role ofmore »climate change in the dynamics of ecological and social systems has rapidly advanced in recent years. These advances are suggesting a reconsideration of previous management strategies. Summary We synthesize the state of knowledge on drivers and impacts of bark beetle outbreaks in Europe and propose a comprehensive context-dependent framework for their management. We illustrate our ideas for two contrasting societal objectives that represent the end-members of a continuum of forest management goals: wood and biomass production and the conservation of biodiversity and natural processes. For production forests, we propose a management approach addressing economic, social, ecological, infrastructural, and legislative aspects of bark beetle disturbances. In conservation forests, where non-intervention is the default option, we elaborate under which circumstances an active intervention is necessary, and whether such an intervention is in conflict with the objective to conserve biodiversity. Our approach revises the current management response to bark beetles in Europe and promotes an interdisciplinary social-ecological approach to dealing with disturbances.« less
  2. Abstract Detecting and understanding disturbance is a challenge in ecology that has grown more critical with global environmental change and the emergence of research on social–ecological systems. We identify three areas of research need: developing a flexible framework that incorporates feedback loops between social and ecological systems, anticipating whether a disturbance will change vulnerability to other environmental drivers, and incorporating changes in system sensitivity to disturbance in the face of global changes in environmental drivers. In the present article, we review how discoveries from the US Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network have influenced theoretical paradigms in disturbance ecology, andmore »we refine a framework for describing social–ecological disturbance that addresses these three challenges. By operationalizing this framework for seven LTER sites spanning distinct biomes, we show how disturbance can maintain or alter ecosystem state, drive spatial patterns at landscape scales, influence social–ecological interactions, and cause divergent outcomes depending on other environmental changes.« less
  3. Laboratory notebooks perform important roles in the engineering disciplines. They at once record an engineer’s work, serve as an important reference for future reports and/or articles, and perform as a kind of journal that enables questioning presuppositions, considering new approaches, and generating new ideas. Given the importance of notebooks, there is surprisingly little scholarship on how to teach their use. Stanley and Lewandowski (2016) surveyed students in undergraduate laboratory courses and evaluated how their notebooks were being used. They found that “few [students] … thought that their lab classes successfully taught them the benefit of maintaining a lab notebook.” Moreover,more »the authors’ later survey of the literature and of college faculty led them to conclude that in undergraduate lab courses “little formal attention has been paid to addressing what is considered ‘best practice’ for scientific documentation …[or] how researchers come to learn these practices” (Stanley and Lewandowski, 2018). At XXX University, two courses, Interfacing the Digital Domain with the Analog World (AEP 2640) and Engineering Communications (ENGRC 2640) are taught in conjunction. In AEP 2640, students use a computer to control equipment and acquire measurements in an engineering design and experimentation laboratory. Laboratory activities such as the development of a computer interface for an oscilloscope, a set of motors, and a photodiode culminate in the realization of an automated laser scanning microscope system. In ENGRC 2640, students receive instruction and feedback on their lab notebook entries and, in turn, use those notebooks as a resource for preparing a Progress Report and an Instrument Design Report. The instructors encourage peer review in order to facilitate improvement of students’ skills in the art of notebook use while allowing them to develop these skills and personal style through trial and error during the research. The primary learning objectives are: 1) to enable students to engage in real laboratory research; and 2) to develop proficiency with select genres associated with that research. The educational research objectives are: 1) to study students’ developing proficiency in order to generate best practices for teaching and learning scientific documentation; and 2) to better understand the contribution of scientific documentation to the teaching and learning of authentic research. This study is a work-in-progress. We will present the study design. That design involves, first, developing a self-efficacy scale for both conducting laboratory research and performing those genres associated with that research. Self-efficacy or a “person’s awareness of their ability to accomplish a goal” (Kolar et. al, 2013) has proven to be a powerful predictor of achievement. Our intent is to track learner agency. Second, the design also involves conducting a content analysis of students’ laboratory notebooks and reports. Content analysis is a methodology that encourages inferencing "across distinct domains, from particulars of one kind to particulars of another kind" (Krippendorff,, 2019). Our intent is to learn about students' mastery of the engineering design and experimentation process through analyzing their lab notebooks. We will present the results of a preliminary content analysis of a select sample of those notebooks and genres.« less
  4. 1. Fire is a powerful ecological and evolutionary force that regulates organismal traits, population sizes, species interactions, community composition, carbon and nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. It also presents a rapidly growing societal challenge, due to both increasingly destructive wildfires and fire exclusion in fire‐dependent ecosystems. As an ecological process, fire integrates complex feedbacks among biological, social and geophysical processes, requiring coordination across several fields and scales of study. 2. Here, we describe the diversity of ways in which fire operates as a fundamental ecological and evolutionary process on Earth. We explore research priorities in six categories of fire ecology:more »(a) characteristics of fire regimes, (b) changing fire regimes, (c) fire effects on above‐ground ecology, (d) fire effects on below‐ground ecology, (e) fire behaviour and (f) fire ecology modelling. 3. We identify three emergent themes: the need to study fire across temporal scales, to assess the mechanisms underlying a variety of ecological feedbacks involving fire and to improve representation of fire in a range of modelling contexts. 4. Synthesis : As fire regimes and our relationships with fire continue to change, prioritizing these research areas will facilitate understanding of the ecological causes and consequences of future fires and rethinking fire management alternatives.« less
  5. This theory paper describes the development and use of a framework for supporting early career faculty development, especially in competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER proposals. Engineering Education Research (EER) has developed into a field of expertise and a career pathway over the past three decades. In response to numerous reports in the 1990s and early 2000s, multiple EER graduate programs were established in the mid-2000s and a growing number continue to emerge to educate and train the next generation of EER faculty and policy makers. Historically, many came to EER as individuals trained in other disciplines, but with anmore »interest in improving teaching and learning. This approach created an interdisciplinary space where many could learn the norms, practices, and language of EER, as they became scholars. This history combined with the emergence of EER as a discipline with academic recognition; specific knowledge, frameworks, methodologies, and ways of conducting research; and particular emphasis and goals, creates a tension for building capacity to continue to develop EER and also include engineering education researchers who have not completed PhDs in an engineering education program. If EER is to continue to develop and emerge as a strong and robust discipline with high quality engineering education research, support mechanisms must be developed to both recognize outstanding EER scholars and develop the next generation of researchers in the field. The Five I’s framework comes from a larger project on supporting early career EER faculty in developing NSF CAREER proposals. Arguably, a NSF CAREER award is significant external recognition of EER that signals central membership in the community. The Five I’s were developed using collaborative inquiry, a tool and process to inform practice, with 19 EER CAREER awardees during a retreat in March 2019. The Five I’s include: Ideas, Integration, Impact, Identity, and Infrastructure. Ideas is researchers’ innovative and potentially transformative ideas that can make a significant contribution to EER. All NSF proposals are evaluated using the criteria of intellectual merit and broader impacts, and ideas aligned with these goals are essential for funding success. The integration of research and education is a specific additional consideration of CAREER proposals. Both education and research must inform one another in the proposal process. Demonstrating the impact of research is essential to convey why research should be funded. This impact is essential to address as it directly relates to the NSF criteria of broader impacts as well as why an individual is positioned to carry out that impact. This positioning is tied to identity or the particular research expertise from which a faculty member will be a leader in the field. Finally, infrastructure includes the people and physical resources from which a faculty member must draw to be successful. This framework has proven useful in helping early career faculty evaluate their readiness to apply for an NSF CAREER award or highlight the particular areas of their development that could be improved for future success.« less