Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2011, Article ID 897578, 20 pages
Review Article

Development of Ecosystem Research

1Department of Botany, The University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia
2Department of Botany, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
3Department of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
4Kearney Foundation of Mineral Nutrition, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
5Agriculture and Forestry Departments, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2JD, UK

Received 15 January 2011; Accepted 10 February 2011

Academic Editor: D. Pimentel

Copyright © 2011 Raymond Louis Specht. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Experimental studies established the major community-physiological processes that determine the structure, growth and biodiversity of overstorey and understorey plants and resident vertebrates in an ecosystem. These community-physiological studies were promoted internationally by the UNESCO Arid Zone Research Program, the International Biological Program (Sections Productivity, Production Processes and Conservation), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and, finally, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program that is studying the impact of Global Warming on the World's ecosystems. During the short period of annual foliage growth in evergreen plant communities, aerodynamic fluxes (frictional, thermal, evaporative) in the atmosphere as it flows over and through a plant community determine the foliage projective covers and leaf attributes in overstorey and understorey strata. These foliar attributes determine the community-physiological constant, the evaporative coefficient, of the plant community. An increase in air temperature of 2 C during this period of annual foliage growth will affect the structure of the plant community, so that tall open-forests open forests woodlands open scrub low open-shrubland desert communities. Variation in available soil water during this short period of annual foliage growth will influence vertical shoot growth but not foliage projective covers and leaf attributes produced in the overstorey stratum.