The boreal forest is home to one-third of the Earth’s forest cover and stores 40 percent of the planet’s terrestrial carbon. North America’s boreal forest alone, which spans the northern portion of the continent from Alaska all the way to Newfoundland, covers an astounding 1.5 billion acres—more than 2.3 million square miles. A recent study completed by a team of Northern Arizona University scientists and published in Global Change Biology was designed to help solve this problem. The first author of the paper was post-doctoral researcher Xanthe Walker of NAU’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss). The research study included the paper’s senior author, Michelle Mack from Ecoss, and co-authors Ted Schuur from Ecoss and Scott Goetz from NAU’s School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems (SICCS), along with collaborators from the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and...
NAU’s Permafrost Carbon Network study links climate policy to reduced effects of emissions from thawing soil
Findings of a new study organized by the Permafrost Carbon Network suggest that putting more effective greenhouse gas controls in place for the rest of this century could help mitigate the effects of climate change on the release of carbon from thawing soils of the northern permafrost region. Brooks Range, Alaska (photo credit Christina Schaedel) Ecoss' Research professors Ted Schuur and Christina Schädel are leading the Permafrost Carbon Network and are co-authors of a new publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read the publication here Read the NAU news article here
The Center for Ecosystem Science and Society and the McAllister Program in Community, Culture, and Environment at Northern Arizona University invite proposals for student projects that enable the arts, cultural, scientific, and environmental institutions of the Colorado Plateau to meet the long term needs of the communities they serve. Full time undergraduate and graduate students at Northern Arizona University from any discipline are eligible. Projects will address shared interests and concerns within the region to serve its cultural, aesthetic, economic, and environmental needs. Budget: up to $3,500 for one year for undergraduate students, $5,000 for one year for graduate students Funding Period: Projects may begin 1 July 2018 and funds must be spent by 30 May 2019 Eligibility: Each student PI must be enrolled as a full time NAU student (in any discipline) for the duration of the CCE award; all students involved...
PhenoCam network harnesses ‘big data’ to predict impact of warmer climate on ecosystem productivity and carbon cycling
A new paper by Northern Arizona University professor Andrew Richardson published in the journal Scientific Data describes a vast network of digital cameras designed to capture millions of images documenting seasonal changes of vegetation across North America. The network, dubbed PhenoCam, is the result of a 10-year collaboration between Richardson, who led the effort, and scientists from the University of New Hampshire and Boston University to develop a reliable continental-scale observatory of phenological phenomena. Vegetation phenology is what determines the seasonal events in the life cycle of plants, such as dormancy, budding, leafing and flowering. Highly sensitive to climate change, phenology is an important indicator for understanding how ecosystem processes are affected by longer growing seasons brought about by warmer climates. Read the full NAU press release here and a blog post in Springer Nature here.
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) has elected Northern Arizona University biological sciences professor Yiqi Luo as a 2018 fellow. Fellows are members of the ESA who have influenced a variety of fields, including advancement or application of ecological knowledge in academics, government, non-profit organizations and the broader society. Luo was recognized for his fundamental contributions in understanding ecosystem dynamics in response to global change and theory development in terrestrial carbon and nitrogen cycles, as well as his pioneering approaches and applications of data assimilation techniques in ecological research. Since elected, Luo will be a fellow for life. The ESA is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists dedicated to furthering our understanding of life on Earth.
A team of scientists from Northern Arizona University’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) recently announced a major achievement in ecosystem science. Their research, published as “Estimating taxon-specific population dynamics in diverse microbial communities” in the journal Ecosphere, illustrates a powerful new technique to simultaneously measure the growth rates of hundreds of individual bacterial taxa in any given soil sample. “Measuring the rate at which each microbe grows within an environmental sample is fundamental to understanding which organisms play the most important roles in natural and engineered environments that matter most to people, such as natural and agricultural soils, freshwaters and the human microbiome,” said lead author Ben Koch, senior research associate with Ecoss. Read the full NAU press release here
Julia Stuart, Ecoss PhD student in the Mack Lab, won an Outstanding Student Poster Award in Biogeosciences at the 2017 meeting of the American Geophysical Union, New Orleans, LA. Her poster was titled “Plant, microbiome, and biogeochemistry: Quantifying moss-associated N2 fixation in Alaska”
Professor Scott Goetz of NAU’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS) is the lead principal investigator on the project, and professor Michelle Mack of NAU’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) is a co-principal investigator along with researchers from the Woods Hole Research Center and a private environmental research firm based in Fairbanks. The project, which represents one of the first collaborations between SICCS and Ecoss, will build on work the researchers have been doing for many years throughout the Arctic. The project is funded by nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to assess the resiliency and vulnerability of the boreal forest on DoD lands across central Alaska. Read the NAU News article here
Bruce Hungate, Ecoss Director, Regents' Professor, and McAllister Chair in Community, Culture, and Environment is presenting in Science on Tap on 'Climate Change and Culture on the Colorado Plateau'. How will climate change affect our region? How can we respond? Explore the science of climate change, its relationship to society in the past and present, how it has and will shape the people and environment with a focus on regional solutions. Where: The Green Room, Flagstaff, AZ When: Thursday, January 18 at 6.30 pm
NAU researchers join Department of Energy project to study the soil microbiome and its effect on carbon persistence
"NAU Regents’ Professor Bruce Hungate, director of the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss), recently joined a new initiative lead by LLNL to study how the soil microbiome controls the mechanisms that regulate the stabilization of the organic matter in soil. “How do different kinds of microorganisms in the soil grow? How do they die and how quickly do they die? What role do viruses, starvation and environmental shocks play in this cycle? Finding the answers to these questions is important because we know that microbes are the main players in how much carbon is stored in the soil,” Hungate said. “The more carbon that’s stored in the soil, the less carbon is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.” Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research for $2.5 million per...