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CWR5140C - Florida International University Department of...

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Florida International University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering CWR 5140C Ecohydrology: Water and Nutrients in Plants and Ecosystems Fall 2009 Lecture Topics Course Synopsis: The vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems are dependent on phenomena that link the cycling of water, nutrients and other biogeochemically active elements. Understanding the perturbations in these cycles that trigger impacts on ecosystem spatiotemporal characteristics is a challenge that generally transcends disciplinary and geographical boundaries, and is key to sustaining the diversity of life on Earth. This course on ecohydrology focuses on the study of hydrologically-controlled ecosystems, e.g. systems in which either excess and/or deficit of water and nutrients are determinants of its structure and function. Such systems have complex dynamic characteristics that depend on many interrelated links between climate, soil and vegetation. Ecohydrology, focusing on the mechanics of climate-soil-vegetation interactions, is one of the most exciting scientific frontiers at the start of the 21 st century, embracing problems that are crucial to the understanding of biodiversity and the environment. For instance, vegetation exerts important controls on the water and nutrient balances of ecosystems and is responsible for many feedbacks to the atmosphere. At the same time, climate and soil have a key influence on patterns of vegetation distribution. Vegetation plays a special role in hydrologically-
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