Harleman Lecture - 2009

'Forest Ecosystem Processes at the Watershed Scale:  Optimization of Landscape Level Coupled Water, Carbon and Nutrient Cycling '

Dr. Larry Band
Department of Geography
University of North Carolina
Thursday, October 15th, 4:30 pm
112 Walker Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA  16802

Larry Band

Speaker Biography
Lawrence Band is the Voit Gilmore Distinguished Professor of Geography and the Director of the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  He has been at Carolina for eleven years, with previous faculty appointments at the University of Toronto and Hunter College, City University of New York.   He teaches courses in watershed hydrology, geomorphology, geographic information systems and environmental modeling.  Larry’s research is in the ecohydrology of watersheds, including the cycling of water, carbon and nutrients, the development and impacts of droughts and floods, and human/environment interactions.  His current research focuses in two Long Term Ecological Research sites: the Coweeta LTER  in western North Carolina, and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.   He is the incoming Board Chair for the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences.

Over the past two decades, empirical evidence and theory have been developed that suggest that plot scale ecosystem properties such as canopy density and root depth evolve towards a state that maximizes resource use and net primary productivity. We generalize this concept from the plot scale to the catchment by examining canopy density as a function of available energy, water and nutrients connected along hydrologic flowpaths.  We use a combination of field measurement, signal processing and distributed simulation to identify emergent optimal ecohydrologic patterns in the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research site reflecting the interactions between catchment geomorphic, soil, climate and ecosystem processes.   Results reveal interesting adjustments of above and below ground canopy structure and physiologic function with water and nutrient availability that indicate the tendency to develop landscape scale optimization, beyond that achieved at individual plots, of  net primary productivity and water use efficiency. This work has both theoretical and practical implications for the coupling of water, carbon and nutrient cycling at the landscape level, and the potential to manage watersheds for bundled ecosystem services.  Advances in this type of interdisciplinary research requires a network of ecohydrologic observatories generating long term, multi-dimensional data, and a science community working across the interface of multiple fields.