U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science

Program for Ecosystem Research

Research Projects

Principal Investigators:

Belnap / Kuske / Neher















McDowell / Pockman



Norby / Classen





Wullschleger / Kuske / Rogers


Research locations are on the Research-sites Map.

Funded institutions are on the Funded-institutions Map.

The program sponsors experimental research in terrestrial ecosystems in North America. Most of the research is in natural (rather than managed) ecosystems. Some of the research is in situ experimentation, and some of the research uses "constructed" ecosystems (i.e., ecosystems constructed for the purpose of research). Both whole-ecosystem experiments and process-level studies are supported.

Rhinelander FACE facility

Part of the program's FACE experiment in Wisconsin.

The program is the principal sponsor of the world's largest long-term study of ecological effects of changes in atmospheric composition associated with energy production (i.e., the Rhinelander, Wisconsin, FACE [free-air CO2 enrichment] experiment). The Rhinelander FACE study began fumigating northern hardwood forest stands, in the field, with elevated concentrations of both carbon dioxide and ozone in 1998. The program also sponsored the largest long-term study of effects of altered precipitation amount on ecosystem structure and functioning (i.e., the Throughfall Displacement Experiment [TDE] at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory [ORNL] in Tennessee). The TDE was conducted from 1993 through 2007.

In addition to large-scale field manipulations of climatic factors and atmospheric composition, the program also sponsors mesocosm research in controlled-environment laboratory, glasshouse, and field chambers to facilitate critical ecosystem research in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. Moreover, the program supports mathematical modeling and data and information synthesis activities. It does this as both components of experimental research projects and as stand-alone modeling and synthesis projects.

The final component of the program is the long-term monitoring and analysis of ecosystem structure and functioning on the Walker Branch Watershed at ORNL. This monitorig and analysis is meant to improve understanding of any ecological effects of climatic variability and change during recent decades.

Presently Funded Research Projects (ordered by PI name)

Climatic change in arid lands: effects on soil biota and ecosystem processes

PIs: Belnap, Kuske, and Neher

Heterotrophic soil respiration in warming experiments: using microbial indicators to partition contributions from labile and recalcitrant soil organic matter

PI: Bradford

Genomic regulation of the response of an agroecosystem to elements of global change

PI: DeLucia

Impacts of elevated temperature on ant species, communities, and ecological roles in two temperate forests in eastern North America

PI: Dunn

Threshold responses to interacting global changes in a California grassland ecosystem

PI: Field

An annual grassland mesocosm exploration of scaling from genomes to ecosystems

PI: Firestone

Physiological, demographic, competitive, and biogeochemical controls on the response of California's ecosystems to environmental change

PI: Goulden

Effects of warming on the structure and functioning of a boreal black spruce forest

PI: Gower

Effect of asymmetric versus symmetric warming on grassland mesocosms

PI: Gregg

Predicting the impacts of climatic change on animal distributions: the importance of local adaptation and species' traits

PI: Hellmann

The interaction of carbon and water availability along a subambient to elevated CO2 gradient

PI: Jackson

Impacts of elevated CO2 and O3, alone and in combination, on the structure and functioning of a northern hardwood forest ecosystem

PI: Karnosky

Multi-agent simulation of hierarchical organization in ecological systems: a computational approach to a theory of scaling and system response to environmental perturbation

PI: King

Subalpine and alpine species range shifts with climatic change: temperature and soil moisture manipulations to test species and population responses

PI: Kueppers

Effects of elevated CO2 and O3 on insect-mediated ecosystem processes in a northern deciduous forest

PI: Lindroth

Hydraulic mechanisms of survival and mortality during drought in pinyon-juniper woodlands of the southwestern United States

PIs: McDowell and Pockman

Effects of warming on tree species' recruitment in deciduous forests of the eastern United States

PI: Melillo

Interactive effects of elevated carbon dioxide and ozone on the mycorrhizal symbiosis

PI: Miller

Community and ecosystem response to global change: interactive effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide, surface temperature, and soil moisture

PIs: Norby and Classen

Boreal ecotone warming experiment

PI: Reich

Can soil genomics predict the impact of precipitation on nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes from soil?

PI: Schwartz

Bridging the divide: linking genomics to ecosystem responses to climatic change

PI: Smith

The response of a seasonal ectotherm (Allenemobius socius) to global warming

PI: Winterhalter

HERMES: hierarchical experimental responses at macromolecular to ecosystem scales

PIs: Wullschleger, Kuske, and Rogers

Ecosystem response to elevated carbon dioxide and ozone is regulated by plant-microbe interactions in soil

PI: Zak

Previously Funded Research Projects

The program's completed research projects, and research projects that are now supported by other funding sources, are listed on the Previously Funded Research Projects web page.