Systems Ecology and Earth Sciences (SEES) - Disciplinary Synthesis

The Systems Ecology and Earth Sciences (SEES) disciplinary synthesis focuses on contaminant-nutrient interactions and their influences on the cycling of C and N in water systems. Coordination between focal projects provides the opportunity to develop a conceptual framework across a range of systems applicable beyond CREWS and Montana to terrestrial-aquatic continua everywhere. Much work has applied ecological theory to address contaminant influence on species composition, but the role of contaminants has not been incorporated into conceptual models of ecosystem function. Despite their efficacy for compliance assessment, laboratory approaches offer little understanding of how contaminants affect energy flow and nutrient cycling in aquatic systems. Thus, there is need for a general framework addressing the role of contaminants at the ecosystem scale. The SEES team will integrate results to address how systems studied as interdisciplinary core projects form a biogeochemical continuum linking soils, aquifers, streams, and rivers. The synthesis will address knowledge gaps related to the fundamental roles of transport and reaction by determining Damkhöler Indices (DaI) for all studies addressing transport and uptake, and then assessing how their relevance is modified by contaminant species.