A long-standing paradigm is that physical processes sculpt a landscape and set the template for biological agents, which then act within the constraints of this template. Current research has begun to focus on potential two-way interactions between the landscape and ecology, however a framework for examining feedbacks and modeling them is still in its infancy. The need for integration of geomorphology, hydrology and ecology is pressing given the scope of problems facing human and ecological communities today. Interdisciplinary approaches will soon be the norm for researchers in each of these areas, and yet there are few opportunities for young researchers to receive truly interdisciplinary training.
The aim of MYRES III is to facilitate the formation of a global network of young scientists who together can tackle issues at the interface of physical and biological sciences. The format of the conference will follow the success of previous MYRES conferences, consisting of: (1) a small number of invited keynote speakers who are emerging leaders in their fields, (2) more senior moderators who will motivate and guide discussion, (3) 50-60 early-career delegates, selected from solicited applications, who will present posters of their own research, (4) focused research discussion in break-out groups, and (5) a field trip highlighting conference themes and encouraging group interaction. An important aspect of the four-day conference will be to explicitly identify the spatial and temporal scales over which various physical, chemical, and biological processes act. The first three days will ascend in spatial scale from the grain-scale to continental and global dynamics, and will cover topics such as soil formation/transport, co-evolution of life and landforms, and feedbacks between biology and climate. The fourth day will use the formalisms developed in the previous days to address human beings as geologic agents, including human/landscape and human/climate interactions. The unifying approaches will be (1) explicit identification of two-way interactions between life and its landscape, and (2) the scaling of process times to determine the most important variables governing these interactions.
The workshop will be held in New Orleans to highlight the delicate and multifaceted nature of human-climate-landscape interactions. It is our hope that this workshop will act as a nucleation site, seeding the development of new ideas in a growing network of new scientists. Guidance and material support will be provided in part by both the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, an NSF Science and Technology Center, and the University of Illinois Hydrologic Synthesis Initiative, thus ensuring that our ideas continue to inform and be informed by the larger community. Improving our understanding of the interactions between life and its landscape will have direct bearing on people's livelihoods, and is therefore one of the most pressing research issues in Earth Science. MYRES III will help to shape the direction of future interdisciplinary research, giving young scientists a forum to freely discuss emerging ideas and the means to establish cross-cutting research teams which can address the challenges facing human and ecological communities in the 21st century.