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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.
Yiqi LLuo headshot

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.  
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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
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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”
burning forest
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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
Hungate Science on Tap flyer
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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
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"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...
IPCC logo
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Ecoss professor Ted Schuur is part of a select group of scientists charged with producing a landmark report examining the effects of climate change on oceans and the frozen world and what steps people must take to reduce those effects. In July, Schuur found out that he would be one of 101 scientists worldwide on the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), one of a three-part series of special reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC releases a report every five to six years discussing the state of the environment in plain language, with the purpose of informing politicians as they make policy related to the environment. The goals of the Paris climate accords are based on the most recent IPCC report. Read the full NAU article here
illustration frequent droughts
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In a new paper published in Nature, research assistant professor Christopher Schwalm of Northern Arizona University’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) shares the results of a study investigating the impact of more frequent droughts on ecosystem resiliency and how this phenomenon could endanger the land carbon sink. Read the full NAU article here. Illustration by Victor Leshyk
norma rivera core from aspen tree in alaska
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Nitrogen isotopes in tree rings record the history of the nitrogen cycle—the critical nutrient that limits growth in many US forests.  ECOSS faculty member Michelle Mack, along with colleagues from seven other institutions, recently published a paper that shows nitrogen availability in US forests declining over the past century, with cool, wet forests demonstrating the greatest declines. The paper is open access and can be accessed here: www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-08170-z. NAU Biology major Norma Rivera takes a core from an aspen tree in Alaska. Photo credit: Samantha Miller.
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