Q2. What questions will DIREnet address?
Answer: The key hypotheses of DIREnet include:
1) Spatial and temporal climate variability correlate with tree mortality, fire and ecosystem productivity across the region.
2) Northern populations of Southwest tree species will experience less drought stress and hence less selection for drought tolerance.
3) Evolutionary paths will be redirected. There is evidence that extreme events such as droughts exert the major selection pressures and may explain diverse patterns of trait associations.
4) Drought & tree mortality will greatly alter fire regimes across the region in complex ways.
5) Consequences of the death and changing distributions of dominant trees will be community-wide. For example, with over 1000 species dependent upon pinyon pine, drought will affect diverse taxa from microbes to vertebrates and only a coordinated network can bring the findings of such diverse taxa and disciplines together.
6) Ecosystems will be completely transformed (versus intact ecosystems moving upwards along gradients of temperature and precipitation).
7) Invasive species will expand across the region as a result of wide-scale disturbance.
8) The recovery phase is prolonged and may account for major effects on inclusive fitness, thus, it is imperative to follow the patterns of resource use, growth, development, and reproduction over long periods and diverse geographic locations, by coordinating research of many groups and institutions.