Impacts of anthropogenic stressors in vegetated coastal habitats

Anthropogenic stressors are increasingly changing conditions in coastal areas and impacting important habitats.  But, when multiple stressors act simultaneously, their effects on ecosystems become more difficult to project.  Stressors from climate change, coastal development, and pollution are currently impacting coastal habitats, but understanding the interaction of these stressors is critical to knowing how vulnerable coastal habitats and the critical ecosystem functions they provide may be maintained or changed in the future. Seagrass bed and saltmarshes are two habitats that are vulnerable to stressors yet provide many things we humans value.

My research to date has shown that stressors can impact foundation plant species in predictable ways, but those impacts can vary with temporal and spatial scales.  In addition, the composition and diversity of these communities varies but can buffer certain ecosystem properties against stressor impacts.  Overall, in these habitats stressors can be context specific, non-interactive, and vary with spatial and temporal scales.

Rachael E. Blake


Do synthesis centers produce novel, potentially transformative research? Research publication diversity as an indicator of novelty and transformative capacity


a few of the topics that emerged in our analysis

For this Roundtable, I will present a poster that I presented at the recent AAAS meeting in San Jose. The project is an outgrowth of a working group jointly supported by NCEAS and NESCent and led by Ed Hackett and John Parker. Please read the abstract below for a bit of background, and then come prepared to discuss how you think academic publications (including yours!) produced through synthesis center work might be measurably different from other publications in the field. Then we’ll see if your intuitions are supported by the data we have available. Prepare yourselves to either be really proud of your keen intuitions, or to be surprised by our results!


You can access the poster on figshare using this link:

Update: To initiate discussion prior to the meeting, I’ve put a question up on Tricider, and I welcome you to use the link below to add your ideas, comment on others’ ideas, and/or vote on the ideas that have been suggested. The question is the following:

“How would you expect academic publications that report on synthesis research to differ from publications resulting from other research approaches?”
Here is the link:
Synthesis is an emerging synthetic method for producing transformative research, and publications centers to promote synthesis are on the rise in the US and around the world. New analytic tools and techniques are needed to assess the originality and transformative potential of synthesis. We propose that research outputs produced within synthesis centers will exhibit distinctive qualities that distinguish them from other publications in their fields. To explore this possibility, we conducted a topical analysis of titles, abstracts, and keywords for approximately 400,000 articles published in 108 leading journals from the fields of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Biodiversity Conservation, Forestry, and Fisheries. We then described each document as a proportional combination of the discovered topics, and used the Rao-Stirling heuristics to estimate, for each document, various measures that illuminate contrasting aspects of diversity (i.e. variety, balance, and disparity). We then compare diversity metrics for the synthesis center documents with those for all other documents in our corpus to evaluate whether and how the measured diversity of synthesis center publications differs from that of other publications in the relevant fields.

When big data and complex workflows meet the reality of finite data storage: a discussion of best practices for data management

"tapes, backup" CC-BY-SA 2.0 by Martin Abblegen via flickr

“tapes, backup” CC-BY-SA 2.0 by Martin Abblegen via flickr

Scientific workflows — for many of us, it’s a love/hate relationship. We love the fact that they help us keep our stuff organized, but hate the overhead required to maintain them. And then when we find out that our meticulously maintained workflow hasn’t captured some important detail? Oh the frustration!!

This discussion will be broadly about managing scientific workflows, and I hope to hear from everyone about the tools and tricks you have for keeping track of which outputs match with which inputs to an analysis, with which models, and which parameters, which figures, papers, and projects all of those things are connected to. It would be great to hear about a wide range of strategies ranging from how you organize and name your files to how you’ve implemented a workflow management tool like Kepler.

I also hope that we can spin up ideas for workflow management problems people may be facing, so if you have a workflow-related issue or question that you’d like to get input on, please let me know. I’ll make sure you get a few minutes to describe your problem or question so that you can get ideas from the crowd.

And if you’re reading this and thinking “I’m a workflow management pro, and don’t need any help with or ideas for managing my workflow,” then please come to the discussion! We (well, at least I) need your help. I have a homegrown scripted workflow management system for the text analyses I do, which does a great job of capturing a lot of details and documenting relationships between inputs and outputs, but requires me to purge unused outputs (e.g., outputs for all but selected runs of a model) manually. How do the rest of you keep track of which files you can throw away down the line and which need to be kept indefinitely? I need to downsize my data storage and am a little worried about making mistakes when I do this manually, so would love to hear ideas about how to build functions like this into my system.

Hope to see you all for a fun discussion!

Research in the coastal temperate rainforest, by Dr. Allison Bidlack

Juvenile Bald Eagle in Tree near Haines

Juvenile Bald Eagle in Tree near Haines

Join us for our March 11th Roundtable with Dr. Allison Bidlack from the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center!

The north Pacific coastal temperate rainforest (PCTR) ecosystem extends from central British Columbia to southcentral Alaska, includes the largest remaining old-growth forests in North America, supports some of the most robust fisheries on the continent, and is home to tens of thousands of people who depend on a resource and tourism-based economy for their livelihoods. It is also a region characterized by an intricate geologic and evolutionary past, a rich cultural history, and complex linkages among ecosystem components. The social-ecological systems of the PCTR are being transformed by climate change, as well as by global economic drivers such as tourism, energy prices, and timber demand.  Given the current rates of ecosystem change and the potential for profound systemic shifts and economic upheaval in the region and beyond, a more holistic understanding of these patterns, processes and impacts is essential for the effective management of resources and the resilience of communities. This talk will provide a brief introduction to the region and some of the integrative work being performed, with an emphasis on regional projects involving existing datasets.