In the past year, extreme events — including hurricanes, droughts and wildfires — have plagued the U.S., affecting natural habitats and human communities.
The theme of the 2018 Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting reflects the importance of these natural disasters. Conference participants will present the latest research findings on « extreme events, resilience and human well-being. »
The meeting takes place Aug. 5 to 10 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, a city still rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.
Worldwide, sea level is rising and river deltas are sinking, threatening the millions of people who live near these deltas.
The opening plenary talk by Robert Twilley of Louisiana State University, « Ecosystem design approaches in the highly engineered landscape of the Mississippi River Delta, » focuses on research funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Coastal Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) program. Twilley will also discuss globally threatened deltas in the presentation, « The resilience of coastal deltaic floodplains. » The study is supported by NSF’s Coastal SEES program.
More than 100 additional conference presentations and posters will feature research by scientists funded through NSF’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) and Biological Oceanography programs, among others. Twenty-eight NSF LTER and nine NSF CZO sites allow scientists to make sustained observations of extreme and unexpected events such as hurricanes. Long-term experiments at these sites provide researchers with opportunities to answer the question: « What conditions foster resilience? »
LTER and CZO sites in Puerto Rico, Florida and Georgia were hit hard by the 2017 hurricane season. Resilience in the face of repeated salt water flooding and forest damage has been challenging.
Scientists are now conducting research on the role of rainfall variability in ecosystems from tropical and coastal forests to estuaries and salt marshes. Nutrient and other experiments are also offering new insights into the interactions among myriad short-term and long-term environmental stresses.