The SDSU Global Change Research Group is conducting research to elucidate the responses of plants and ecosystems to elevated CO2 in order to aid the understanding of potential changes, so that politicians can make informed policy decisions that affect the world’s biological future.
San Diego State University has been carrying out various aspects of ecological research on chaparral and arctic ecosystems since the early 1970′s. Activities have dealt with ecosystem modeling, basic physiological characteristics of the plants, nutrient dynamics of the plants and soil, water use, above and below ground biomass, light, energy, temperature, wind speed and precipitation.
In the chaparral, work has taken place primarily in California and Chile with cooperative studies being done in other Mediterranean regions including South Africa, Australia, France, Spain and Italy.
Arctic research has focused on the North Slope of Alaska, the Seaward Peninsula, and the Taiga around Fairbanks Alaska but recently has included Iceland, Western Siberia and the Far East in Russia.
In the Arctic, the focus was to understand the system so as to minimize any potential negative effects of oil development while in the chaparral, the major concern has been damage to homes due to wildfire and maintaining an optimal age stand so as to yield the maximum amount of water from a watershed, minimize erosion and support a healthy and diverse wildlife population.
The GCRG is still primarily working on tundra and chaparral vegetation but the focus since 1989 has been to examine plant and ecosystem reponses to elevated CO2 as well as CO2 fluxes in the natural ecosystems.