Ecosystem Disturbance and Stress
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Forest ecosystems are influenced by a wide variety of persistent or acute forcing factors, including stochastic disturbances, cyclic or chronic environmental stresses, and human management activities. A disturbance is an event that removes or damages organisms, generates openings in a community, or abruptly alters environmental conditions, leading to changes in ecosystem structure or function. By comparison, a stress can be viewed as any biotic (e.g., pathogen) or abiotic (e.g., drought) constraint or influence that adversely affects critical life processes for organisms. When ecosystems are exposed to disturbance events, stresses, or other forcing factors, there may be dynamic changes in multiple interrelated processes and system properties. One of the intriguing challenges in biogeochemistry is to be able to predict ecosystem responses to diverse anthropogenic or natural forcing factors.
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