Peters Debra P. C.

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Debra P. C.

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The changing landscape : ecosystem responses to urbanization and pollution across climatic and societal gradients

2008-06 , Grimm, Nancy B. , Foster, David R. , Groffman, Peter M. , Grove, J. Morgan , Hopkinson, Charles S. , Nadelhoffer, Knute J. , Pataki, Diane E. , Peters, Debra P. C.

Urbanization, an important driver of climate change and pollution, alters both biotic and abiotic ecosystem properties within, surrounding, and even at great distances from urban areas. As a result, research challenges and environmental problems must be tackled at local, regional, and global scales. Ecosystem responses to land change are complex and interacting, occurring on all spatial and temporal scales as a consequence of connectivity of resources, energy, and information among social, physical, and biological systems. We propose six hypotheses about local to continental effects of urbanization and pollution, and an operational research approach to test them. This approach focuses on analysis of “megapolitan” areas that have emerged across North America, but also includes diverse wildland-to-urban gradients and spatially continuous coverage of land change. Concerted and coordinated monitoring of land change and accompanying ecosystem responses, coupled with simulation models, will permit robust forecasts of how land change and human settlement patterns will alter ecosystem services and resource utilization across the North American continent. This, in turn, can be applied globally.

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Cross-site comparisons of dryland ecosystem response to climate change in the US long-term ecological research network

2022-08-16 , Hudson, Amy R. , Peters, Debra P. C. , Blair, John M. , Childers, Daniel L. , Doran, Peter T. , Geil, Kerrie L. , Gooseff, Michael N. , Gross, Katherine , Haddad, Nick M. , Pastore, Melissa A. , Rudgers, Jennifer A. , Sala, Osvaldo E. , Seabloom, Eric W. , Shaver, Gaius R.

Long-term observations and experiments in diverse drylands reveal how ecosystems and services are responding to climate change. To develop generalities about climate change impacts at dryland sites, we compared broadscale patterns in climate and synthesized primary production responses among the eight terrestrial, nonforested sites of the United States Long-Term Ecological Research (US LTER) Network located in temperate (Southwest and Midwest) and polar (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. All sites experienced warming in recent decades, whereas drought varied regionally with multidecadal phases. Multiple years of wet or dry conditions had larger effects than single years on primary production. Droughts, floods, and wildfires altered resource availability and restructured plant communities, with greater impacts on primary production than warming alone. During severe regional droughts, air pollution from wildfire and dust events peaked. Studies at US LTER drylands over more than 40 years demonstrate reciprocal links and feedbacks among dryland ecosystems, climate-driven disturbance events, and climate change.