The SDSU Global Change Research Group is conducting research to elucidate the responses of plants and ecosystems to elevated atmospheric carbon 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 is primarily focused on the North Slope of Alaska, with past research done on the Seaward Peninsula, in the Taiga around Fairbanks, Iceland, Western Siberia, and the Far East of Russia.
In the Arctic, the focus is to understand the system so as to minimize any potential negative effects of oil development. 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 CO2 studies in the tundra and chaparral ecosystems, but the focus in recent years has been to examine plant and ecosystem responses to elevated CH4.