PROGRAM TITLE:	Ecological Rates of Change (EROC)
ACTIVITY STREAM:	Process, Observe, Model
SCIENCE ELEMENT:	Ecological Systems


SCIENTIFIC MERIT:  The purpose of EROC is to support research on how 
global change, especially climate change, affects ecological processes.  Both 
natural and human-induced changes are included.  This program underpins 
predictions of biotic responses to change, through quantifying changes in 
ecosystem functions, and in plant and animal frequency and abundance in 
time and space.  Research concentrates on processes affecting ecological rates 
of change in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, habitats, and ecotones, and 
in species interactions, abundance and distributional limits, biological 
diversity, and gene pools.  Results from EROC supported research will lead to 
predictions of rates of adaptation, habitat modification and biome shifts.  
EROC also contributes to understanding the ecological processes that 
influence the Earth, including effects of the biota on climate, the geosphere 
and atmosphere.  Large-scale experiments include soil warming, carbon 
dioxide augmentation, and landscape manipulations.  In the network, 
ecological variables, including trace gas fluxes and biological diversity, are 
monitored across a range of ecosystem types.  Models incorporating climate 
change and based on comparative data sets are being developed.
STAKEHOLDERS:  The program supports multi-disciplinary research 
projects.  EROC complements other NSF programs such as ARCSS and 
GLOBEC, which also focus on understanding the interplay between biological 
systems and global change processes.  It contributes to research conducted by 
oceanographic and atmospheric scientists through NSF programs as well as at 
mission agencies, and provides critical information for Global Circulation 
Models.  It adds to programs in the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Health 
Monitoring Program), to DOE's Research Parks Network of ecological sites, 
and to the EMAP program at the EPA.  It links to interagency interactions 
through the SBI and TRIG projects and to international efforts such as the 
IGBP and the Diversitas program (IUBS, SCOPE, UNESCO).
POLICY RELEVANCE:  Field experiments, observations and modeling will 
identify the ecological processes, essential for ecosystem health, which affect 
and are most affected by global change.  EROC research provides the 
knowledge for predicting ecological change; knowledge needed to inform 
policy formulation related to biodiversity, desertification and all aspects of 
biological resource management.
PROGRAM CONTACT:  Scott Collins, Ecological Studies Program Director