Predictive Mapping: Physiology to Food Webs Down River Networks
All landscapes on Earth, even on the sea floor, are sculpted and organized by river drainage networks. In order to forecast responses by landscapes and ecosystems to changes in climate, land use, or biot, ecologists must use “predictive mapping”: integrating observations and experiments across space and time to discover:
- Where ecological regimes change across landscapes or through drainage networks
- Which spatially varying environmental factors cause these changes
- ow boundaries or gradients separating ecological regimes will expand, contract, or relocate with altered climate, land use or biota
- How knowledge at local scales can help forecast consequences at basin-wide, annual or decadal scales of concern to society
Advanced mapping (LiDAR, satellite, drone), sensing (via sensor networks), and tracing technologies (genes, isotopes) enable increasing documentation of ecological changes over space (Power et al. 2005, Bode et al. 2013). Maps that overlay ecological process rates and controls onto landscapes, in combination with field experiments that detect shifts in controlling mechanisms, should reveal whether shifts in biota or ecological interactions through space and time involve ecophysiology of individual species, or more complex ecosystem interactions. Our Eyes on the Eel research is a start towards trying to understand food web controls over larger space and time scales.