Coastal Rainforest Margins Research Network (NSF-RCN)

Understanding materials flux in linked terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the face of climate change

Lead -PI Allison Bidlack, University of Alaska Southeast (UAS); Co-PI David Butman, University of Washington SEFS & CEE; Co-PI Brian Buma, UAS.

The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, the University of Washington, and the University of Alaska as been funded through The National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network to identify and develop a collaborative international research community designed to quantify the flux of nutrient-rich materials from coastal watersheds to nearshore marine ecosystems. This network will be comprised of researchers organized within key disciplines including hydrology, forest ecology, soil science, biogeochemistry, and near-shore marine ecology as well as the primary stakeholders subject to the management of these resources into the future.

Scientists are charged with identifying and addressing critical information gaps, develop regional collaborations, and synthesize knowledge regarding water, carbon, and nutrient fluxes in a landscape where intense transformations and rapid transfers between terrestrial and freshwater environments control the delivery of these materials to the ocean.

The Network will achieve these goals through: 1) facilitated workshops centered on the core disciplines related to water, chemistry and material fluxes from land to coastal systems, 2) the creation of working groups to develop data collection, management and sharing protocols; and 3) development of outreach products useful to Network members as well as policy-makers and resource managers.

Major research questions the network will be addressing include: What are current freshwater and carbon fluxes in the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest (PCTR), and how will these be affected by future changes in climate? How do forest communities, distribution and disturbance regimes drive current land-to-ocean biogeochemical fluxes across the PCTR, and how will climate-driven changes affect this flux? What is the relative importance of terrestrially derived materials transport for regulating marine ecosystem processes in the PCTR, and how will marine ecosystems respond to altered terrestrial biogeochemical fluxes? Is the PCTR a future source or sink of carbon under a changing climate, and can the insights gained about ecosystem processes in the PCTR translate to other coastal temperate rainforests? And what is the current and future contribution of coastal temperate rainforests to continental or global estimates of carbon sequestration and material fluxes across the terrestrial/marine interface?

Steering Commitee: Allison Bidlack, University of Alaska Southeast (UAS); Brian Buma, UAS; David Butman, University of Washington; Sarah Bisbing, California Polytechnic State University; David D’Amore, US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station; Brian Hunt, University of British Columbia & Hakai Institute; Suzanne Tank, University of Alberta; and Ian Giesbrecht, Hakai Institute.

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