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Dynamic interactions of life and its landscape: feedbacks at the interface of geomorphology and ecology

Reinhardt, L., Jerolmack, D., Cardinale, B.J., Vanacker, V., Wright, J.
2 010
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
There appears to be no single axis of causality between life and its landscape, but rather, each exerts a simultaneous influence on the other over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. These influences occur through feedbacks of differing strength and importance with co-evolution representing the tightest coupling between biological and geomorphological systems. The ongoing failure to incorporate these dynamic bio-physical interactions with human activity in landscape studies limits our ability to predict the response of landscapes to human disturbance and climate change. This limitation is a direct result of the poor communication between the ecological and geomorphological communities and consequent paucity of interdisciplinary research. Recognition of this failure led to the organization of the Meeting of Young Researchers in Earth Science (MYRES) III, titled 'Dynamic Interactions of Life and its Landscape'. This paper synthesizes and expands upon key issues and findings from that meeting, to help chart a course for future collaboration among Earth surface scientists and ecologists: it represents the consensus view of a competitively selected group of 77 early-career researchers. Two broad themes that serve to focus and motivate future research are identified: (1) co-evolution of landforms and biological communities; and (2) humans as modifiers of the landscape (through direct and indirect actions). Also outlined are the state of the art in analytical, experimental and modelling techniques in ecological and geomorphological research, and novel new research avenues that combine these techniques are suggested. It is hoped that this paper will serve as an interdisciplinary reference for geomorphologists and ecologists looking to learn more about the other field. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
EES Authors: 
Douglas J. Jerolmack

Department of Earth and Environmental Science / University of Pennsylvania, 251 Hayden Hall, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316