Plant an Idea and Then a Tree… But Which Ones? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)


Plant an Idea, Then a Tree… But Which Ones? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

 

(update at the bottom 26/04/2016)

Plant an idea

The research published throughout this blog follows a conceptual framework. The aim behind it is to study the reality behind the discussion generated over facing global transformations forcing changes in the environment at global scale.

The nature of the discussion in itself has proven to be enormously influenced by components which are beyond scientific views. Personal believes, political agendas, cultural differences and economical pressures drive the focus of attention following fashion modes affecting the academic and none academic fields.

Scientists and scientific institutions have been put on the spot from all angles, and they practises and agendas scrutinised like never before. And may be it was about time to make scientists realise that their function and their resources, are not only relevant within the walls of academia, but also too important in our society to work aside from the attention and judgement from the society outside academia. What science has to say about matters affecting our health state and the sustainability for our social structures is as important as the assessments given by Bankers, Politicians, Lawyers, … But also, all those sectors driving the right functionality of our society are affecting the level of scientific performance, and they should share the same pressure and scrutiny.

Why institutions get into such a vulnerable position that their research can be compromised?

The reality is that science and research is made by humans driven by what human nature brings within. Curiosity, passion and skills are domains required like in many other sectors. But with them, there is also ambition, pride, necessity, survival instincts and fear to lose your job and economic support to sustain a healthy lifestyle. And like in any other job position, you do the best that your environment allows you to. So it is not difficult to understand how scientists, like medical doctors under pressure from pharmaceuticals, farmers under pressure from seed producers, your car dealer under pressure from their company’s agenda, …, all can become indirectly and unwittingly, messengers for those above dictating the political agenda shaping their performance.

It is not that the scientific community does not have enough bright minds and infrastructure to address complex matters,  like assessing the significance of climatic drifts in our environment. So why it is not already been delivered it really makes a good argument to stop blaming the messenger and start asking questions over the “other climate”, the one interfering with the right functionality of a different “eco-system”, the “science system”.

There are pressures coming from within the system, curiously enough the same names seem to drive even the appearance of new ideas before new names even call any attention, and the pressures coming from outside…

Plant a tree

We can see through the media that some data and scientific publications have brought a lot of discussion over their accurate legitimacy, either from pro-IPCC to anti-IPCC. So basing any research upon any of those papers makes you feel like walking over thin ice. Even though sometimes those papers have been allegedly blamed due to political agendas, other times they become weak simply because the conclusions are that “the data is there but there is no theoretical approach, conceptual framework or idealised mechanism able to explain the meaning behind it”, which means that you are at risk of not knowing either which mechanisms have came through the manipulation of your data leading you to your findings. It is something like “I have something that I have made which I don´t know what it is useful for.”

In this scenario I decided to built my own conceptual framework, based on my own data research and analyses. If I introduce bias in my research, at least those are going to be enclosed in my own framework.

The conclusions found over my previous publications have led me to interpret the presence of anthropogenic GHG’s as a major contributor allowing to explain the appearance and shifts of processes happening in the atmospheric circulation at global scale. So my findings and conclusions agree with the posture expressing concerns over the increase of anthropogenic GHG’s concentrations.

If you feel self-conscious on loosing trees due to deforestation, sure you have thought on planting a tree, or couple of them. And then, which ones? In our case, individually speaking, I guess any type of tree will do, always looking at the suitability for the type of soil, humidity and temperatures in your location.

But when we talk about the management of large areas, or even the implementation of policies, we have to go deeper and think over it, a little bit further.

When we consider the effect of plant populations over an environment, there is a two way interaction. Plant populations transforming and interacting with the other components in the ecosystem (biotic and non biotic, like soils, water cycles and climatic regimes), and in the other hand, the restrictions from those components affect the population. Thus, the balance between what they demand to develop and their capability to handle perturbations and renewable resources:

  • The demands of resources from the plant’s population over the environment:
    • soil structure, water, nutrients, space and stable climatic regimes as well as the required symbiotic relationships with other biota defined by the biodiversity available and,
  • The capacity to cope and recover from
    • the pressure that the plant’s population will suffer from competition with other biotic components; within the plant kingdom as well as with bacteria, fungus, insects and wild animals.
    • their exposition to climatic shifts, weather events and,
    • the limitations from consuming resources faster than they are being replaced or regenerated “naturally“.

Based on such synergistic relationship, the whole ecosystem (biotic and none biotic elements) will develop a tendency towards degradation or enhancement, similarly as it happens when changing the plant population over soils at the equator, and that demands a deeper analysis.

As I have addressed in a previous publication, the greener effect allegedly attributed to increases of CO2 are not balanced by other nutrients demanded so it is not enough to sit and watch how looses of plant populations are going to get replaced and redistributed naturally. And same limitations apply with algae in the Oceans. (ref).

Even though the plant population of our planet creates great sceneries and transmit to us a sense of comfort, the increase in the presence of “some plant species” at “some locations” actually has the potential of damaging the functionality generated by the balance once created by long settled species. I would assume that at this point it becomes needless to get deeper over the impact from agricultural practises over soil developments, water cycles, run-offs releases and contamination (e.g. glypphosate ref1&ref2 and Nitrogen) as well as  canopy interactions with atmospheric dynamics, either physically through albedo and turbulence or biochemically interacting with CO2 and water vapour.

What we might not see through the mass of vegetation which covers the background in our pictures, is the state of the resources keeping such vegetation active. What it becomes relevant for any new ecosystem comes in the meaning of its presence… over time. Soil transformation, water management, nutrients regeneration, …

It is not just how well can we expect, for new plant populations, to develop in a warmer and more rich in CO2 atmosphere, to maintain the first generations. Moreover, the real threat comes from considering for how long can we expect for new ecosystem, developing over soils which have not been prepared for such demands, to become stable by themselves, and how well will they manage the available resources.

Not every plant react in the same way against environmental pressures, and not all plants growing at every location, will play the same synergistic effects over a regional climate. Plants, and their synergies with local climatic regimens, have been built upon adaptation through latitudes, longitudes and time. In order to make numbers, we can count trees and it is going to be as easy playing “planting trees”, any trees, any where, to “recover” losses. But in order to recover the functionality of their synergistic interaction with the whole ecosystem and their regional climatic regimes, it is not going to be enough to just plant trees, or just seeing growing trees, any trees, any where.

I believe that it is worthy of mention one recent article which can help to complement the discussion in this topic. However, they only looked at how much plant populations suffer from climatic conditions and don´t go further looking into the second part of the process which is, how much the regional climate gets affected by their losses.

“Meta-analysis reveals that hydraulic traits explain cross-species patterns of drought-induced tree mortality across the globe”, PNAS, http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1525678113

“Meta-analysis reveals that hydraulic traits explain cross-species patterns of drought-induced tree mortality across the globe”. (William R. L. Anderegg et al. 2016). Predicting the impacts of climate extremes on plant communities is a central challenge in ecology. Physiological traits may improve prediction of drought impacts on forests globally. We perform a meta-analysis across 33 studies that span all forested biomes and find that, among the examined traits, hydraulic traits explain cross-species patterns in mortality from drought. Gymnosperm and angiosperm mortality was associated with different hydraulic traits, giving insight into the relative weights of different traits and mechanisms in mortality prediction. Our results provide a foundation for more mechanistic predictions of drought-induced tree mortality across Earth’s diverse forests.

(Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-04-tree-traits-contribute-drought-vulnerability.html)

Trees take in water through their roots, and pump that water throughout the tree to hydrate leaves and support photosynthesis. In times of plenty, water moves easily through the tree. But when temperatures increase, evaporation from leaves drives higher water demand. At the same time, if water is harder to come by due to drought, the tree’s roots have to pull harder to draw scant water from the soil. Tension builds in the tree’s “pipes” as they work harder and harder to move water, like a person trying to suck a very thick smoothie through a small straw. At a certain point, the tension on the pipes throughout becomes so great that bubbles of air enter the pipes and block the flow of water.

Worldwide, forests absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions produced by humans. So large-scale tree die-offs not only shut down a forest’s ability to sequester greenhouse gases, but also release some of those gases back into the atmosphere as the dead trees decompose.

Climate scientists have had difficulty accounting for these changes in carbon dioxide storage in climate models, because the effect of drought on various species’ mortality rates has been, historically, difficult to predict. “That launched this search to understand what about a tree’s physiology predisposes it to die during a severe drought,” Anderegg says.

He and his colleagues combed through 33 published studies of tree mortality that included 475 tree species and more than 760,000 individual trees. The team noted the mortality rates for each species, then compared those to 10 tree physiological traits, searching for commonalities. The traits included typical tree characteristics, such as wood density, rooting depth and basic leaf characteristics, such as whether the species was an evergreen or a deciduous tree. Other traits concerned the hydraulics of how water moves through trees.

Read more at:

http://phys.org/news/2016-04-tree-traits-contribute-drought-vulnerability.html

(update 26/04/2016)

Tampering with natural systems is like performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to an unconscious person. The intention might be good but it has to be done properly to be effective.

One perfect example of addressing the point which I am trying to make in this post has been addressed also at the following publication:

Are We Planting The Wrong Trees To Tackle Climate Change? by Emily Stewart · 9th February 2016

“Of a major concern for the researchers is that most governments feature reforestation as a key part of their plans to tackle climate change. This study has highlighted that although on paper reforestation should tackle climate change, it must be done correctly and the most efficient species of trees to make any difference. In essence we need areas to be reclaimed totally by nature and no longer managed by man, yet this may be easier said than done.”

http://wildlifearticles.co.uk/are-we-planting-the-wrong-trees-to-tackle-climate-change/

You can look into other publications in this blog related with the present publication:

Atmospheric dynamics

Ecosystem performance

If you want to know more about the previous research that I have conducted leading me to this publication you can always contact me at d.fdezsevilla@gmail.com or leave a comment.

—xxx—

PerspectiveSince October 2013 I have been studying the behaviour of the Polar Jet Stream and the weather events associated as well as the implications derived into atmospheric dynamics and environmental synergies.

Many of the atmospheric configurations and weather and climate events we see these days are very similar with the progression followed since 2013. Please take a look at posts addressing those events from previous publications in this blog or look at the categories in the top menu. Also at research-gate. Feedback is always welcomed either in this blog or at my email (d.fdezsevilla(at)gmail.com). All my work is part of my Intellectual Portfolio, registered under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License,  WordPress.com license and it is being implemented at my profile in researchgate. I will fight for its recognition in case of misuse.

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About Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.

Citing This Site "Title", published online "Month"+"Year", retrieved on "Month""Day", "Year" from http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com. By Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD. More guidance on citing this web as a source can be found at NASA webpage: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/bibliography/citations#! Bachelor in General Biology, Masters degree "Licenciado" in Environmental Sciences (2001, Spain). PhD in Aerobiology (2007, UK). Lived, acquired training and worked in Spain, UK, Germany and Poland. I have shared the outcome from my previous work as scientific speaker in events held in those countries as well as in Switzerland and Finland. After couple of years performing research and working in institutions linked with environmental research and management, I find myself in a period of transition searching for a new position or funding to support my research. In the present competitive scenario, instead of just moving my cv and wait for my next opportunity to arrive, I have decided to invest also my energy and time in opening my own line of research showing what I am capable of. The value of the data and the original nature of the research presented in this blog has proved to be worthy of consideration by the scientific community as well as for publication in scientific journals. However, without a position as member of an institution, it becomes very challenging to be published. I hope that this handicap do not overshadow the value of my work and the intellectual rights represented by the license of attribution attached are respected and considered by the scientist involved in this line of research. Any comment and feedback aimed to be constructive is welcome. In this blog I publish pieces of research focused on addressing relevant environmental questions. Furthermore, I try to break the barrier that academic publications very often offer isolating scientific findings from the general public. In that way I address those topics which I am familiar with, thanks to my training in environmental research, making them available throughout my posts. (see "Framework and Timeline" for a complete index). At this moment, 2017, I am living in Spain with no affiliation attachments. Free to relocate geographically worldwide. If you feel that I could be a contribution to your institution, team and projects don´t hesitate in contact me at d.fdezsevilla (at) gmail.com or consult my profile at LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Academia.edu. Also, I'd appreciate information about any opportunity that you might know and believe it could match with my aptitudes. The conclusions and ideas expressed in each post as part of my own creativity are part of my Intellectual Portfolio and are protected by Intellectual Property Laws. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial conditions. In citing my work from this website, be sure to include the date of access. (c)Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD, 2016. Filling in or Finding Out the gaps around. Publication accessed 20YY-MM-DD at http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com/
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55 Responses to Plant an Idea and Then a Tree… But Which Ones? (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

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