Research

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Research Interests, George Kling

General Description:
I am interested in how elements such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur move through the environment. This research requires study at the scale of the ecosystem, and encompasses physical transport phenomena, geochemical reactions, and the role of organisms in element storage and transformation. It is these phenomena that underlie our understanding of the broad environmental problems of acid rain, eutrophication, species introductions, and climate change. The general goal of my research is to better understand what controls important ecosystem functions, and how various controls relate to the major environmental problems of our world.
The challenge in ecosystem science is to use our knowledge of controls on ecosystem function to develop a predictive framework of how organisms and element cycles respond to either natural or human-imposed change. Contemporary ecosystem research strives for this predictive understanding by emphasizing some version of the paradigm that the availability of nutrients controls ecosystem function, or the paradigm that biotic regulation by grazers and predators provides the dominant control. The understanding gained within these paradigms is, however, insufficient to answer such fundamental questions as how physical drivers modulate chemical and biological processes in ecosystems, or how different ecosystems interact to control biogeochemical cycling at regional or global scales. My research program addresses these questions by studying the interactions between physical forcings and biogeochemical cycles, and the landscape-level interactions between ecosystems.