Secondary successional ecosystems are widespread across the southeastern US and, as a whole, comprise a substantial sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Despite the important role of successional ecosystems in carbon cycling and other ecological processes, considerable uncertainty remains concerning the spatial and temporal dynamics of these ecosystems. With this in mind, the principle goal of this project is to understand the status of and controls on successional ecosystems in the southeastern US through development and analysis of coupled remotely sensed and ground based data. The project will use new and existing datasets to evaluate successional characteristics and ecological processes within and among five separate landscapes in North Carolina.
This work will lay the framework for future research on carbon cycling, hydrological process, and climate-vegetation feedbacks within this region and other regions where secondary ecosystem succession is an important landscape-scale process. This work also seeks to broaden participation of underrepresented students in ecological sciences by collaborating with the Ecological Society of America's Strategies for Ecology Education, Development and Sustainability (SEEDS) program to recruit undergraduate students from minority-serving and other institutions to participate in training, fieldwork, and numerical analysis related to secondary ecosystem succession.