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News & Events

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Ecoss' Bruce Hungate and Victor Leshyk co-authored a study on the "CO2 fertilization effect". The study was led by César Terrer and Rob Jackson and published in Nature Climate Change. Although excessive CO2 often harms forests by warming the planet, making droughts more severe and insect pests more abundant, CO2 in the air is also food for plants. Extra carbon on a plant’s plate will usually increase photosynthesis and biomass—but only to a point. The more carbon dioxide concentrations rise, the less additional benefit trees may receive unless they can find additional nitrogen and phosphorus to balance their diet." How much extra carbon dioxide trees will take up this century is a critical uncertainty in predicting global warming. Will trees keep absorbing a quarter or so of fossil-fuel emissions, as they do today. Read the paper here and an article...
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The research team, led by Bradley Butterfield from NAU’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) and including Scott Anderson from the School of Earth and Sustainability, found that a plant’s evolutionary build—its growth form (tree vs. shrub) and how its seeds are dispersed—are strong predictors of how quickly it can move to a more favorable climate when its current one becomes hotter or drier. Their findings sync with other studies about how plant species disperse over shorter distances and time periods, and provide guideposts for predicting which plants are most climate-mobile. The clues on which Butterfield and his collaborators from SUNY-Buffalo and the U.S. Geological Survey relied come in the form of ancient middens—the nests that packrats make with nearby plant material and inadvertently fossilize with their urine, called amberat. By analyzing data about what types of seeds and...
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Ecoss researchers show that more carbon is being released from thawed permafrost than previously thought. A new paper published this month in Nature Geoscience introduces a new way to track soil carbon in permafrost, which changes the understanding of how environmental change influences ecosystem carbon storage. The experiment builds on a long-term permafrost tundra warming study Schuur and collaborators are doing in Alaska. Read the publication here and the NAU news story here. Thawing permafrost affects plant and soils in tundra ecosystems, and ultimately the storage of carbon in permafrost soils. The surface of tundra subsides as ice in permafrost melts and drains. This can mask the loss of soil carbon through time that occurs as a result of soil microbial activity converting soil organic matter into greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. Accounting for ground subsidence as a result...
Luo C model course 2019
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Much of what we know about where carbon will be on the globe in 12, 25 or 100 years is due to innovative predictive modeling tools like the ones researcher Yiqi Luo develops at Northern Arizona University’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss). The short course taught by Luo and nearly 30 students, staff, and faculty from NAU and other institutions, now in its second year, expanded to cover two new topics: ecological forecasting and data assimilation. Luo said his group expanded into these areas in order to make the course more useful for trainees working to improve their models’ predictions. Read the full article here
Girls who code
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Girls code. In Flagstaff, thanks to the efforts of Ecoss/SICCS postdoc and club founder Katharyn Duffy. Check out this great Arizona Daily Sun story about the new Girls Who Code club in Northern Arizona and Duffy's plans for expanding the after-school club next year!
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“Today I am taking the flux puppy for a walk at @HarvardForest to measure stem respiration,” NAU postdoctoral researcher Tim Rademacher recently tweeted. With it, a photo of a small white chamber fastened to a tree trunk (think half Dixie cup, half electrode) and hooked at the other end to a handheld tablet sporting a clear, clean graph of CO2 in parts per million. The wire between seems charged with symbolic heft: tying paper to its replacement, or connecting old methods to new. The question Rademacher’s tweet triggers—what’s a flux puppy?—arrives simultaneous to that wish all good marketing teams trade in: I don’t know what it is, but I want one. And thanks to its open-source code, anyone with access to a handheld Android or tablet who wants to measure flux—that is, how much carbon dioxide or water is respired...
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Congratulations to Lissy Enright (MS, Biology) for winning 3rd place overall at the 3 Minute Research Presentation Southwest regionals this past weekend at the University of Nevada, Reno! Lissy advanced to the regionals by taking 3rd and Best Slide (in collaboration with Victor Leshyk) at the NAU 3MRP competition in March for her talk, The Redwood Test: How Much Are We Willing to Lose as the Climate Changes? Congratulations also to Julia Stuart (PhD, Biology) for being named a 2019-2020 NAU ARCS Foundation scholar! She and seven other NAU graduate student scientists received the award last week in Phoenix.
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Andrew Richardson was named Regents' Professor at NAU, the highest rank a faculty member can achieve. Richardson studies forest science and ecophysiology and is a world-renowned expert in phenology, the study of seasonal rhythms of plants and animals in various ecosystems. Read more at NAU news See Richardson's full profile here
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Ecoss graduate student Ali Martinez and a team of ecologists including her advisor Marks, Ecoss researchers Ben Koch and Zasha Welsh, Alex Flecker (Cornell University) and Steve Thomas (University of Nebraska) constructed a system of miniature streams whose temperatures Martinez can manipulate. The team studies how nutrients will move in the food chain of warming streams. The Arizona Daily Sun featured the experiment (nicknamed the Kraken) in a top story March 26, 2019. Read the full article here.
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Doctoral candidate Elaine Pegoraro designed an experiment to measure how microbes respond to fresh carbon addition at different depths in soil collected from a field site near Healy, Alaska. Essentially, she made glucose additions to the soil three times throughout the course of a year. The results were published this month in Soil Biology and Biochemistry. Pegoraro’s findings suggest that plants may contribute to some soil carbon loss by releasing glucose from their roots into soil. Read the full NAU article here
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