ESA: The future of gradient studies in examining plant-plant interactions for the next 100 years.
That is the crazy ambitious title for my ESA2015 talk.
Instead, I prefer the following running title for the more synthetic version of the talk I will be giving at the oe3c annual meeting.
Changing interactions in a changing world.
Times are a changing. Global changes are real, dramatic, and prominent in ecological research. Even most fundamental research studies on interactions, gradients, or perturbation invoke global change issues as the validation and implication of the respective work reported. However, integrating individual studies is challenging, and ecology must now very rapidly move beyond context specificity to provide useful, reproducible evidence for many of these global issues. Gradients are a changing too in connectance, length, and severity. Herein, a review and conceptual framework of gradient studies that explore ecological interactions are developed. Experimental field manipulations and syntheses are also presented as a means to advance theory and highlight opportunities for future research. Gradients are powerful tools that can be used to shape distributed, collaborative studies of interactions provided interaction estimates are coupled with drivers at multiple scales, network dynamics, and trophic levels. Contrasts of the frequency and/or importance of interactions, positive or negative, are only as useful as their capacity to expand the relevance of the local ecological context.
1. Generate a framework to identify opportunities & gaps.
2. Find the best case studies from synthesis papers and primary field studies.
3. Connect the dots and ascertain whether gradients are a viable opportunity or hindrance in our capacity to inform global change issues.
4. Link to space for time substitutions (historical/legacy ideas) and new tools such as SEMs.