1. PLANT COMMUNITY RESPONSES TO THE COUPLED EFFECTS OF DUST
ON SNOW AND WARMING IN ALPINE ENVIRONMENTS, SOUTHWESTERN
Michael Remke, Julie Korb, and Heidi Steltzer
Alpine plant communities in high-elevation regions of the Rocky Mountains are likely to be sensitive to environmental change, but the relative impact of different factors is not well understood. Warming air and soil temperatures (driven by global climate change) and earlier snowmelt (sometimes driven by factors such as dust deposition on the snow surface during winter) are two separate but interacting factors that can influence growing season length, plant physiology, and environmental conditions. We designed experimental treatments with shade cloth placed on snow (to mimic dust deposition) and open-topped chambers (to warm soil and air temperatures); these treatments led to significantly earlier snowmelt and to measurable changes in environmental conditions. Multivariate analyses of the plant community revealed shifts in phenological events and community composition, even in the initial growth season. These results suggest the value in considering broad regional influences (such as dust transport from distant arid locations) on specific sensitive sites such as snow-dominated alpine communities.
Pages 271-280 In:
Proceedings of the 12th Biennial Conference for Research on the
2. A NOVEL APPROACH TO CULTIVATE BIOCRUSTS FOR RESTORATION AND EXPERIMENTATION
Kyle D Doherty, Anita J Antoninka, Matthew A Bowker, Sergio Velasco Ayuso, Nancy C. Johnson. 2015. A novel
approach to cultivate biocrusts for restoration and experimentation.
Ecological Restoration 33:13-16.
3. FROM PATTERNS TO CAUSAL UNDERSTANDING: STRUCTURAL EQUATION MODELING (SEM) IN SOIL ECOLOGY
In this perspectives paper we highlight a heretofore underused statistical method in soil ecological research, structural equation modeling (SEM). SEM is commonly used in the general ecological literature to develop causal understanding from observational data, but has been more slowly adopted by soil ecologists. We provide some basic information on the many advantages and possibilities associated with using SEM and provide some examples of how SEM can be used by soil ecologists to shift focus from describing patterns to developing causal understanding and inspiring new types of experimental tests. SEM is a promising tool to aid the growth of soil ecology as a discipline, particularly by supporting research that is increasingly hypothesis-driven and interdisciplinary, thus shining light into the black box of interactions belowground.