USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center Project: Effects of Emerging Agricultural Practices on Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems

Statement of Problem: Agriculture is the most significant global economic activities directed at providing food, fiber, and fuel products necessary to sustain society. Current agricultural practices are largely characterized by significant inputs of water, nutrients, chemical, and energy resources in order to maximize productivity from both spatial and temporal perspectives. As population numbers increase the agricultural sector must respond by increasing and sustainability to meet demand. Agricultural productivity can increase in many ways, including expansion of the amount of land under production; increased operating efficiency; and genetic modification of crops to improve yields. However, increasing agricultural activities are known to have negative consequences on natural aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems due to physical, chemical, and biological alterations of habitats; alteration of ecosystem structure and function; and alterion of global pools and cycling of critical elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Ecosystem alteration can occur at the local, watershed, regional, and global scales scales of time and space. Therefore, minimizing the adverse impacts of agricultural practices requires a thorough understanding of the structure and function of ecosystems and the services that they provide. This understanding is crucial in maintaining agricultural sustainablity while minimizing impacts natural aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Objectives: The objective of this task is to conduct research on the effects of agricultural practices on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
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