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permafrost sample with title
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Scientific American Well known among the global scientific community for his research on the vast amounts of carbon stored in rapidly thawing permafrost soil – and its potential threat to the environment – Ted Schuur, professor of NAU’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, has spent nearly 20 years working to bring awareness to the issues revealed by his scientific findings. But a new article published in the December 2016 issue of Scientific American magazine, a popular science publication that reaches 9 million readers worldwide, is likely to have a much broader impact on the public’s understanding of this environmental challenge. Read the full NAU news article here
natasja van gestel lecturing in classroom

Dr. Natasja van Gestel Dr. Natasja van Gestel presents research regarding the effects of climate change on the Antarctic ecosystem at the Sinagua Middle School. This presentation was part of the “Scientists in the Classroom” program, founded by Jillian Worrssam. The partnership between Sinagua Middle School teacher Kathryn Wertz and Ecoss will add authentic scientific research to the regular curriculum.  Ecoss’s outreach to the school is facilitated by Kathryn Wertz, Jillian Worssam, and Mindy Bell from STEM City.  
cover page for biannual report
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Bi-annual report Ecoss Jan-Jun 2016 Members of the Center of Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) have been very productive in the first half of 2016. Download this Bi-annual report to find out about grants, invited talks, books, publications, and promotions that happened between January and June of 2016 within Ecoss.
science in the park
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Science in the Park, Flagstaff 2016 Water plus soil makes mud, right? It’s definitely mud when it’s on the kitchen table at home. But for the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss), water plus soil makes paint, and it enjoyed centerpiece status on our table in Science in the Park in Flagstaff, last weekend, part of Flagstaff’s 2016 Festival of Science (September 2016). Visitors were handed a brush and a blank canvas and created art with a palette of natural soil paints, from beige to black to red to all shades of brown. Most, before even beginning, were curious, and asked why: “Why are the soils different colors?” That’s our entrée to science: soils vary in color because of the different amounts and types of chemical elements they contain. Red and yellow soils contain particular forms of iron, black...
Northern Arizona University campus in the summer showing buildings in the foreground and the Peaks in the background
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Northern Arizona University campus in the summer. Copyright NAU Marketing PhD and MS positions in Ecosystem Ecology are available in the Center for Ecosystem Science in 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. Research opportunities are available in the following areas linked to specific Ecoss faculty: The impact of climate change on Alaskan ecosystems, including effects of changing fire and permafrost on plants, soils, and ecosystem services. M. Mack, T. Schuur How microorganisms shape the ecology of planet Earth and its responses to environmental change, from soils to hot springs to humans. B. Hungate, P. Dijkstra, E. Schwartz  Freshwater ecology, including the science of river restoration and dam...
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Ectomycorrhizal fungi (the mushrooms connected to the roots of the tree) increase the uptake of nitrogen by the plant, even when that nutrient is scarce in soils. Artwork by Victor O. Leshyk. Bruce Hungate, Director of the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society at Northern Arizona University, is one of the coauthors of this new study. He was surprised to find a symbiotic relationship between plants and a certain fungus boosted growth even without nitrogen. Hear about the study in this short broadcast by KNAU.
now hiring postdoc associate
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The Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss), a vibrant and growing research unit is seeking a postdoctoral research associate. The postdoctoral research associate will conduct research at the interface between quantitative ecology and microbial genomics in the Center for Ecosystem Science & Society at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. The postdoc will use tools in ecological modeling, molecular microbial ecology, bioinformatics, and statistics, to develop new quantitative models describing the influence of temperature on growth and carbon-use efficiency of microorganisms in soil. The work will involve computer modeling, with a minor component of laboratory work, as needed. The postdoc will collaborate with and help supervise two PhD students working on the same project. The postdoc will also collaborate with the multiple PIs involved in the project (Hungate, Schwartz, Dijkstra, Koch, and Mack) as well as with external collaborators...
Microscopic visual illustration of Ectomycorrhizal fungi on the roots of a tree.
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Ectomycorrhizal fungi (the mushrooms connected to the roots of the tree) increase the uptake of nitrogen by the plant, even when that nutrient is scarce in soils. Artwork by Victor O. Leshyk. Plants can grow faster as atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase, but only if they have enough nitrogen or partner with fungi that help them get it, according to new research published this week in Science. The study was lead by César Terrer Moreno, a PhD student at Imperial College London, and included researchers from Northern Arizona University, the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Indiana University, and New South Wales University (Australia). The team synthesized more than 80 past experiments, and they found that higher CO2 boosted plant growth, as long as the plants received enough nitrogen. Without added nitrogen, CO2 had no effect, confirming the long-standing idea that nitrogen limits...
Illustration of permafrost releasing carbon dioxide
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In thawing Arctic permafrost soils, carbon dioxide is produced by microbes in dry conditions, while both methane and carbon dioxide are produced by microbes in wet conditions. Artwork by Victor Leshyk. When it comes to climate change, not all carbon is created equal. Among greenhouse gases, methane is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In this recent study published in Nature Climate Change, Northern Arizona University assistant research professor and lead author of the study, Christina Schädel, analyzed carbon release from 25 Arctic soil incubation studies to learn more about the conditions promoting either carbon dioxide or methane release. Read more about the findings of the study here  
Bogus Fire in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Matt Snyder/Associated Press
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In this June 2015 photo, smoke rises from the Bogus Creek Fire, one of two fires then burning in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Alaska. (Matt Snyder/Alaska Division of Forestry via Associated Press) This story in the Washington Post (June 3, 2016) provides details on a major and surprising new report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The document raises questions about what will be the true carbon consequences of Alaska’s ongoing warming. Ted Schuur, permafrost researcher at Ecoss says about the new study “It’s important to remember that these models are predicting both losses of soil carbon as well as new plant uptake and so it’s going to be critical to assess whether stimulated plant uptake by rising CO2 and the other factors really will compensate for soil carbon losses, because that’s the process that offsets emissions to the atmosphere,” Read...
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