Some experts estimate that a single mature oak tree produces between 200,000 and 1 million leaves each year—all of which fall from the tree in the autumn. Although “litter” from decaying leaves is sometimes viewed as a problem in urban and suburban settings, fallen leaves play a critical role in the natural world. Decomposing leaves replenish the soil by releasing carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other inorganic compounds into the food web, but scientists don’t yet have a complete understanding of this complex process or how it is being affected by climate change. Stream ecologist Jane Marks, professor of biology and faculty of Northern Arizona University’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss), studies the effects of leaf litter, chiefly within stream ecosystems. Read the full NAU article here
Please join the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society and Flagstaff Arts Council Saturday, September 29 for the Flagstaff premier of "This Verse Business," a play that offers a new window into Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost's personal life and poetic works. Frost is portrayed by Emmy-winning Gordon Clapp from NYPD Blue. Written and directed by Andy Dolan. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door, online at the Coconino Center for the Arts, or by calling (928) 779-2300. Doors at 7, Curtain at 8 PM.
PhD and MS positions in Ecosystem Ecology are available in the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) at Northern Arizona University. The Ecoss mission is to conduct high-impact, innovative research on ecosystems and how they respond to and shape environmental change, to train next-gen scientists, and to communicate discovery and its relevance to people. Graduate student benefits include stipend (TA or RA), tuition waiver, health insurance, support for summer fieldwork in a variety of beautiful ecosystems, and winter in the peaks of sunny Flagstaff, AZ. Candidates should explore the Ecoss website (ecoss.nau.edu) and contact the professor whose interests align most closely. Please include a cover letter describing background, research interests, and qualifications, as well as a current resume/curriculum vitae (CV). Program applications can be submitted to the Department of Biological Sciences, due January 15, 2019 after communicating with faculty...
When it comes to how climate change is impacting ecosystems, there’s no shortage of data out there. But finding enough people who know both ecology and how to interpret that data can be a different story. Ecoss affiliated professor Kiona Ogle leads the multi million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation together with co-PIs Jay Barber, Andrew Richardson, Benjamin Ruddel, and Temuulen Sankey. This collaboration among Ecoss and the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS) is a unique grant that will train graduate students in tackling big ecological questions through informatics, collaboration and better communication. Read the full NAU news article here
Ecoss ecologist Ted Schuur, who’s received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a carbon observatory at Eight Mile Lake near Denali National Park in Alaska, calls the permafrost’s massive release of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere a “wild card,” and potentially a tipping point, for the global climate. The five-year NSF grant is part of the NSF’s Navigating the New Arctic initiative, the grant is offered through the Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) program, which supports researchers who have already collected six years of continuous data. Using these parameters, LTREB grants are designed to support important scientific questions that require a longer timeline—often decades—to answer. Read the full NAU article here
Ecoss ecologist Yiqi Luo and collaborators in a multi-site research team have been awarded a 6-year, $6.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study dryland ecosystems at the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research site in New Mexico. Luo and his team will be studying how the changing climate transforms drylands using observational, experimental and modeling techniques. They hope to predict how whole ecosystems will respond to the hotter, drier conditions being recorded in drylands across the planet. Read the NAU news article here
New Ecoss publication shows that warmer temperatures lengthen growing season and increase plants’ vulnerability to frost
New findings published in the journal Nature by Ecoss researcher Andrew Richardson offer some of the first experiment-based evidence that a warmer world will significantly shift ecosystem-wide growing seasons, putting plants at higher risk during extreme temperature swings. Experimental enclosure at the SPRUCE site Image of PhenoCam at the Spruce site Richardson and a team of collaborators conducted a unique experiment in boreal forests showing that warmer temperatures triggered earlier springs and delayed the onset of fall—lengthening the growing season by three weeks or more. Surprisingly, the longer growing season increased the vegetation’s vulnerability to frost events. Read the full NAU News article here and a behind the scene blog post written by Andrew Richardson. Read the publication here
Ecoss member, Karen Haubensak together with the main Principal Investigator Kevin Grady from Forestry and Clare Aslan from Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, launched an ambitious project, which is designed to identify the foundation species best suited for seed production for crisis events as well as for large-scale restoration. The cross-disciplinary team of NAU ecologists recently received a five-year, $935,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study which plants are most fit for restoring damaged lands and capable of supporting diverse pollinator communities. The scientists will test nearly 50,000 plants of 12 species—the largest trial of its kind in the western region. Based on the outcome of the test, they will conduct a trial of 105,000 plants at established small farms to identify growing conditions that optimize seed production. “We want to know which plants support diverse pollinators,...
Eight Ecoss students, faculty, and staff traveled to Detroit, MI in May 2018 to present their research at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science. Undergraduate researcher Zasha Welsh presented a poster, as did graduate students Courtney Roush, Meghan Schrik, Jack Torresdal, and Adam Siders. Ben Koch, Victor Leshyk, and Jane Marks also delivered oral presentations. Victor and Ben also designed the slick new logo of the Society of Freshwater Science. Check it out here!
A mini-symposium and short training course on 'New Advances in Land Carbon Cycle Modeling' was held May 20-26, 2018 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, USA. The mini-symposium and short training course were organized by ECOSS professor Yiqi Luo and Research Associate Lifen Jiang and focused on new theory on land carbon storage dynamics; matrix representations of land carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles; a unified diagnostic system for full understanding of uncertainty sources; carbon cycle data assimilation system for both flux- and pool-based data; and semi-analytic spin-up for computational efficiency. The mini-symposium attracted 80 participants from all over the world. The trainees not only learned simplicity in coding, diagnostic capability, and computational efficiency for carbon cycle models, but also enjoyed one-day hiking in the Grand Canyon and networking among the attendees.