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.
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