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  1. Abstract

    Between the 1780 and 1980s, more than half of the wetlands in the conterminous US were lost. As wetlands have been lost, numerous artificial water features (AWFs), such as stormwater retention ponds, golf course water features, and reservoirs, have been constructed. We contrasted the loss of wetland area and perimeter to the gain of AWF area and perimeter and further explored how this transformation has altered the spatial characteristics of the waterscape. We conducted this analysis in the Tampa Bay Watershed, a large coastal watershed that lost 33% of its wetland area between the 1950s-2007. Trends have been towards fewer, smaller wetlands and more, smaller AWFs. The loss of wetland area far exceeds the gain in AWF area, leading to an overall loss of 23% of the combined wetland and AWF area. However, the loss of wetland perimeter almost equals the gain in AWF perimeter, leading to an overall loss of just 2% of the combined wetland and AWF perimeter. The loss of wetlands and gain of AWFs have predominantly occurred in different geographic locations, with the loss of wetlands predominantly in the headwaters and the gain in AWFs predominantly adjacent to Tampa Bay. Wetlands became further apart, though generally retained their natural distribution, while AWFs became closer to one another and now mirror the more natural wetland distribution. Overall, the physical structure of the waterscape of today is different than in the past, which likely reflects a change in functions performed and related ecological services provided at local and landscape scales.

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  2. Abstract

    Vegetation greenness has increased across much of the global land surface over recent decades. This trend is projected to continue—particularly in northern latitudes—but future greening may be constrained by nutrient availability needed for plant carbon (C) assimilation in response to CO2enrichment (eCO2). eCO2impacts foliar chemistry and function, yet the relative strengths of these effects versus climate in driving patterns of vegetative greening remain uncertain. Here we combine satellite measurements of greening with a 135 year record of plant C and nitrogen (N) concentrations and stable isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N) in the Northern Great Plains (NGP) of North America to examine N constraints on greening. We document significant greening over the past two decades with the highest proportional increases in net greening occurring in the dries and warmest areas. In contrast to the climate dependency of greening, we find spatially uniform increases in leaf‐level intercellular CO2and intrinsic water use efficiency that track rising atmospheric CO2. Despite large spatial variation in greening, we find sustained and climate‐independent declines in foliar N over the last century. Parallel declines in foliar δ15N and increases in C:N ratios point to diminished N availability as the likely cause. The simultaneous increase in greening and decline in foliar N across our study area points to increased N use efficiency (NUE) over the last two decades. However, our results suggest that plant NUE responses are likely insufficient to sustain observed greening trends in NGP grasslands in the future.

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  3. Abstract

    Biogenic volatile organic compounds (bVOCs) play important roles in ecological interactions and Earth system processes, yet the biological and physical processes that drive soil bVOC exchanges remain poorly understood. In temperate forests, nearly all tree species associate with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) or ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi. Given well‐established differences in soil biogeochemistry between AM‐dominated and ECM‐dominated stands, we hypothesized that bVOC exchanges with the atmosphere would differ between soils from the two stand types. We measured bVOC fluxes at the soil‐atmosphere interface in plots dominated by AM‐ and ECM‐associated trees in a deciduous forest in south‐central Indiana, USA during the early and late vegetative growing season. Soils in both AM‐ and ECM‐dominated plots were a net bVOC sink following leaf‐out and were a greater bVOC sink or smaller source at warmer soil temperatures (Ts). The flux of different bVOCs from ECM plots was often related to soil water content in addition toTs. Methanol dominated total bVOC fluxes, and ECM soils demonstrated greater uptake relative to AM‐dominated plots, on the order of 170 nmol m−2 hr−1during the early growing season. Our results demonstrate the importance of soil dynamics characterized by mycorrhizal associations to bVOC dynamics in forested ecosystems and emphasize the need to study bidirectional soil bVOC uptake and emission processes.

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  4. Abstract

    Terrestrial ecosystems obtain energy in the form of carbon‐containing molecules. Quantifying energy acquisition and dissipation throughout an ecosystem may be useful for describing their resistance and resilience to disturbances. Three longleaf pine savannas with different vegetation composition—a result of variation in soil moisture and land use legacy—were used as a case study to test energy‐based metrics of ecosystem metabolic function. Available energy from gross ecosystem exchange of CO2and its dissipation into metabolic energy density (EM) and energy storage were used to identify differences in drought recovery over an 8‐year period. Sites with higher plant functional diversity in the understory stored more energy and lowered their EMby ~20% when adapting to drought. In contrast, the site with greater abundance of woody understory and overstory species relied on stored energy twice as often as the more diverse sites. The absence of native understory species, due to anthropogenic legacy, prolonged ecosystem‐scale drought recovery by 1 year. This study provides the tools to understand differences in site metabolic energy dynamics and has the potential to identify site characteristics that indicate greater vulnerability to disturbances. Metabolic energy density can be applied to any global ecosystem and provides a first step to describe coupled carbon and energy allocation in ecosystems, which may be used to further refine ecological theory and its management implications.

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  5. Abstract

    Land‐use/cover change (LUCC) is an important driver of environmental change, occurring at the same time as, and often interacting with, global climate change. Reforestation and deforestation have been critical aspects of LUCC over the past two centuries and are widely studied for their potential to perturb the global carbon cycle. More recently, there has been keen interest in understanding the extent to which reforestation affects terrestrial energy cycling and thus surface temperature directly by altering surface physical properties (e.g., albedo and emissivity) and land–atmosphere energy exchange. The impacts of reforestation on land surface temperature and their mechanisms are relatively well understood in tropical and boreal climates, but the effects of reforestation on warming and/or cooling in temperate zones are less certain. This study is designed to elucidate the biophysical mechanisms that link land cover and surface temperature in temperate ecosystems. To achieve this goal, we used data from six paired eddy‐covariance towers over co‐located forests and grasslands in the temperate eastern United States, where radiation components, latent and sensible heat fluxes, and meteorological conditions were measured. The results show that, at the annual time scale, the surface of the forests is 1–2°C cooler than grasslands, indicating a substantial cooling effect of reforestation. The enhanced latent and sensible heat fluxes of forests have an average cooling effect of −2.5°C, which offsets the net warming effect (+1.5°C) of albedo warming (+2.3°C) and emissivity cooling effect (−0.8°C) associated with surface properties. Additional daytime cooling over forests is driven by local feedbacks to incoming radiation. We further show that the forest cooling effect is most pronounced when land surface temperature is higher, often exceeding −5°C. Our results contribute important observational evidence that reforestation in the temperate zone offers opportunities for local climate mitigation and adaptation.

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  6. We hypothesized topographic features alone could be used to locate groundwater discharge, but only where diagnostic topographic signatures could first be identified through the use of limited field observations and geologic data. We built a geodatabase from geologic and topographic data, with the geologic data only covering ~40% of the study area and topographic data derived from airborne LiDAR covering the entire study area. We identified two types of groundwater discharge: shallow hillslope groundwater discharge, commonly manifested as diffuse seeps, and aquifer-outcrop groundwater discharge, commonly manifested as springs. We developed multistep manual procedures that allowed us to accurately predict the locations of both types of groundwater discharge in 93% of cases, though only where geologic data were available. However, field verification suggested that both types of groundwater discharge could be identified by specific combinations of topographic variables alone. We then applied maximum entropy modeling, a machine learning technique, to predict the prevalence of both types of groundwater discharge using six topographic variables: profile curvature range, with a permutation importance of 43.2%, followed by distance to flowlines, elevation, topographic roughness index, flow-weighted slope, and planform curvature, with permutation importance of 20.8%, 18.5%, 15.2%, 1.8%, and 0.5%, respectively. The AUC values for the model were 0.95 for training data and 0.91 for testing data, indicating outstanding model performance. 
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    Abstract. American bison (Bison bison L.) have recovered from the brink ofextinction over the past century. Bison reintroduction creates multipleenvironmental benefits, but impacts on greenhouse gas emissions are poorlyunderstood. Bison are thought to have produced some 2 Tg yr−1 of theestimated 9–15 Tg yr−1 of pre-industrial enteric methane emissions,but few measurements have been made due to their mobile grazing habits andsafety issues associated with measuring non-domesticated animals. Here, wemeasure methane and carbon dioxide fluxes from a bison herd on an enclosedpasture during daytime periods in winter using eddy covariance. Methaneemissions from the study area were negligible in the absence of bison(mean ± standard deviation = −0.0009 ± 0.008 µmol m−2 s−1) and were significantly greater than zero,0.048 ± 0.082 µmol m−2 s−1, with a positively skeweddistribution, when bison were present. We coupled bison location estimatesfrom automated camera images with two independent flux footprint models tocalculate a mean per-animal methane efflux of 58.5 µmol s−1 per bison, similar to eddy covariance measurements ofmethane efflux from a cattle feedlot during winter. When we sum theobservations over time with conservative uncertainty estimates we arrive at81 g CH4 per bison d−1 with 95 % confidence intervalsbetween 54 and 109 g CH4 per bison d−1. Uncertainty wasdominated by bison location estimates (46 % of the total uncertainty),then the flux footprint model (33 %) and the eddy covariance measurements(21 %), suggesting that making higher-resolution animal location estimatesis a logical starting point for decreasing total uncertainty. Annualmeasurements are ultimately necessary to determine the full greenhouse gasburden of bison grazing systems. Our observations highlight the need tocompare greenhouse gas emissions from different ruminant grazing systems anddemonstrate the potential for using eddy covariance to measure methaneefflux from non-domesticated animals. 
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    Abstract. Environmental science is increasingly reliant on remotely sensedobservations of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. Observations frompolar-orbiting satellites have long supported investigations on land coverchange, ecosystem productivity, hydrology, climate, the impacts ofdisturbance, and more and are critical for extrapolating (upscaling)ground-based measurements to larger areas. However, the limited temporalfrequency at which polar-orbiting satellites observe the Earth limits ourunderstanding of rapidly evolving ecosystem processes, especially in areaswith frequent cloud cover. Geostationary satellites have observed theEarth's surface and atmosphere at high temporal frequency for decades, andtheir imagers now have spectral resolutions in the visible and near-infrared regions that are comparable to commonly used polar-orbiting sensors like the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), or Landsat. These advances extend applications of geostationary Earth observations from weather monitoring to multiple disciplines in ecology and environmental science. We review a number of existing applications that use data from geostationary platforms and present upcoming opportunities for observing key ecosystem properties using high-frequency observations from the Advanced Baseline Imagers (ABI) on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), which routinely observe the Western Hemisphere every 5–15 min. Many of the existing applications in environmental science from ABI are focused on estimating land surface temperature, solar radiation, evapotranspiration, and biomass burning emissions along with detecting rapid drought development and wildfire. Ongoing work in estimating vegetation properties and phenology from other geostationary platforms demonstrates the potential to expand ABI observations to estimate vegetation greenness, moisture, and productivity at a high temporal frequency across the Western Hemisphere. Finally, we present emerging opportunities to address the relatively coarseresolution of ABI observations through multisensor fusion to resolvelandscape heterogeneity and to leverage observations from ABI to study thecarbon cycle and ecosystem function at unprecedented temporal frequency. 
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