Dr. Aditi Sengupta, UA SRP Trainee, and Dr. Julia Neilson, UA SRP investigator, both members of UA SRP Director Raina Maier’s research group, organized a symposium entitled “Marginal Lands: Biotic Forces Impacting Ecosystem Resilience” for the Soil Biology and Biochemistry Division of the Soil Science Society of America Annual (SSSA) Meeting held in Tampa, Florida (October 22-25, 2017).
The symposium centered on the idea that extreme weather events pose an increasing threat to land productivity and long-term resiliency of ecosystems and the threat is greater for marginal lands, like deserts. The need for an interdisciplinary approach to identifying forces that sustain or degrade such lands was recognized in this session. To this end, the symposium integrated plant and microbial ecologists with soil scientists to discuss integrated approaches and strategies to sustain or reclaim marginal lands.
Neilson pointed out that such conferences are important for sharing ideas between national and international audiences. “They provide the opportunity to network with [those] scientists that you read their papers, but you don’t normally meet and talk to them, so I think that’s valuable”. She continued, “These conferences also provide a forum for bringing attention to a topic. Understanding in the Southwest what helps an ecosystem survive and what sends it over into failure helps us understand how to recover degraded soils”.