By modifying their habitats, ecosystem engineers living belowground influence soil properties and processes, and in turn aboveground process, from local to regional scales. However, few ecosystems are free from human influence, whether it be through targeted introductions, land management activities, or urbanization. We pose the questions: (1) How do keystone ecosystem engineers alter the composition of soil properties, ecosystem processes (e.g., nutrient cycling), and/or aboveground communities and in the long-term and across multiple scales? And, (2) How do human activities (that change the composition of ecosystem engineers, or affect above/belowground interactions) feedback to ecosystem processes? The goals of this working group will be to refine these research questions, identify appropriate LTER datasets, and eventually generate a cross-site comparison for publication.
This working group will meet in two sessions. The first session will begin with a brief presentation from the organizers, then the focus will shift to brainstorming and refining the research questions. During the second session we will aim to identify appropriate datasets and, if possible, begin preliminary analysis.
Participants may be interested in attending “All creatures great and small: Synthesizing critter control of nutrient dynamics across the LTER network” with Lynn Christenson and Becky Ball Tuesday from 10-noon. Their discussion will complement our goals of identifying existing datasets and relationships between organisms and ecosystem processes.