CARBON DYNAMICS IN THE ANTHROPOCENE: A PERSPECTIVE FROM EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS

Director: Armando Sepulveda-Jauregui

Deputy Director: Ricardo de Pol Holz

University: Universidad de Magallanes

Abstract

This “Network for Extreme Environments Research” (NEXER) proposal aims to study how human-impacts have affected the supply of ecosystem goods and services in extreme environments associated with carbon cycling and pathways. Our research will be guided by two overarching questions: 1. What are/were the key ecosystem goods and services associated with carbon dynamics in extreme environments, past and present, and how have they changed over time? and 2. Have the accelerating anthropogenic effects affected ecosystem goods and services in a measurable way? In addition, in order to expand the relevance of this proposal, we will tackle the following key challenges:

1. Given that our research is going to be conducted on a system already subject to human modification, we will need to discern between autochthonous and allochthonous components of the ecosystems under study; and

2. Besides studying these questions locally, we will compare extreme environments from markedly different latitudes and environmental conditions including the Atacama Desert, the High Andes and the Magellanic sub-Antarctic Ecoregion.

Our proposed study will largely focus on generating spatio-temporal information on seasonal variability associated with the carbon cycle in the complex, heterogeneous landscape of the Magellanic sub-Antarctic Ecoregion. This includes ice-covered areas that extend from high mountains to the ocean, high and low salinity/pH freshwater ecosystems, dense canopy sub-antarctic humid bryophyte-rich forests, acid to alkaline peatlands, barren cold deserts and intricate coastlines with dense kelp forest ecosystems. Our proposal is based around collaborative research between the three universities of the NEXER initiative, where we will: 1. focus our efforts on the natural laboratory represented by the Magellan sub-antarctic eco-region 2. Undertake sampling and conducting experiments on a regular basis throughout the year by gathering researchers of the three universities in a common fieldwork environment, and,

3. by comparing our results with other extreme environments studied by the NEXER initiative such as the hyperarid Atacama desert of northern Chile. Finally, this proposal aims to generate active networking among national and foreign researchers and research centers, advancing human capital through the hiring of a postdoctoral investigator, supporting graduate students and building strong outreach programs that includes citizen-based research efforts.

Associate researchers

  • Claudia Andrade
  • Armando Sepulveda-Jauregui
  • Flavia Morello
  • Tamara Contador
  • Chris Harrod
  • Marjorie Reyes-Díaz
  • Ricardo de Pol Holz
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