The Nutrient Network: A Global Research Cooperative

Poster Disciplines/Format:
Final Report (Required, .pdf format only) : 
Melinda Smith
Elizabeth Borer
Eric Seabloom
Lydia Ries O'Halloran

Two of the most pervasive human impacts on ecosystems are alteration of global nutrient budgets and changes in the abundance and identity of consumers. Fossil fuel combustion has doubled and agricultural fertilization has quintupled global pools of nitrogen and phosphorus relative to pre-industrial levels. Concurrently, habitat loss and degradation and selective hunting and fishing have disproportionately removed consumers from food webs. In spite of the global impacts of these human activities, there have been no coordinated experiments to quantify the general impacts of altered nutrient inputs and consumer loss on ecological systems. The Nutrient Network (NutNet) is a grassroots research effort to address these issues within a coordinated research network comprised of more than 40 herbaceous-dominated sites worldwide (6 of which are LTER sites).

The goals of NutNet are to collect data from a broad range of sites in a consistent manner to allow direct comparisons of environment-productivity-diversity relationships among systems around the world and to implement a cross-site experiment requiring only nominal investment of time and resources by each investigator, but quantifying community and ecosystem responses in a wide range of ecosystems (i.e., desert grasslands to arctic tundra). Data collected as part of this unique research network will allow us to address the following fundamental ecological questions: How general is our current understanding of productivity-diversity relationships? To what extent are plant production and diversity co-limited by multiple nutrients in herbaceous-dominated communities? And under what conditions do consumers and/or nutrients control plant biomass, diversity and composition?

The purpose of this workshop is to provide information about NutNet, to discuss potential research opportunities within NutNet, and to recruit new NutNet participants from other LTER sites. Discussions from this workshop will provide the framework for a review paper discussing the value and challenges of distributed experimental networks.

Session Info

Working Group Session 3

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Longs Peak Diamond East