NCEAS News and Announcements

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October 8, 2015

In a new systematic review of existing literature, published in Ecology, the NCEAS Marine Debris Working Group explored the extent to which existing data demonstrates ecological impacts caused by marine debris. They conclude that sufficient evidence does exist to label marine debris, particularly plastics, as an environmental hazard. The authors suggest that there is sufficient evidence for decision-makers to begin mitigating the problem caused by marine debris. While the researchers do agree that there is a need to improve in the quantity and quality of research about the ecological impacts of marine debris, they claim that it should not be a deterrent to the development of marine debris mitigation plans. More>


October 8, 2015

Species conservation systems that rely heavily on declining population rates may not accurately predict a species’ conservation status, concludes a new paper published in Biological Conservation. These findings could have broad reaching implications for international wildlife policy and conservation management.

The NCEAS Red Flags and Species Endangerment Working Group compiled an extensive global time series dataset of abundance trends for over 1300 vertebrates populations in order to evaluate performance of criteria for identifying species at risk. More>


October 7, 2015

After the Interior Department’s announcement that the Sage Grouse will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act, discussions on whether or not this was the best choice have been widespread. In "A Shifting Approach to Saving Endangered Species" published in The New York Times on October 5, the author Erica Goode reports on the varying opinions amongst conservation and environmental organizations on creating a collaborative conservation plan for the Sage Grouse and future endangered animals. Goode turned to NCEAS Director Frank Davis for his thoughts on endangered species. More >


October 6, 2015

Ocean Health Index 2015 Global Score is 70 Out of 100

The global ocean score for the Ocean Health Index was announced at the second annual Our Ocean Conference held the week of October 5-9 in Valparaíso, Chile. With the updated methodology, the global ocean score for 2015 was 70 out of 100, unchanged from 2013 and 2014. This was the fourth annual update from the Index, a partnership led by scientists from the NCEAS at UC Santa Barbara and Conservation International. Since 2012, 22 nations have started using the Ocean Health Index’s regional assessment tool to improve ocean management. More >


September 16, 2015

While previously thought to have been widespread, new research shows that cheating is actually rare. Developed by a NCEAS Working Group, a new fitness-based definition of cheating generates a common framework to unite empirical and theoretical work, makes comparisons across species and studies possible, and creates an opportunity to better understand mutualistic interactions and how they tie into broader ecosystem services. More>


September 3, 2015

The National Science Foundation recently selected UC Santa Barbara to establish a new Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) National Communications Office (LNCO) operated by NCEAS.  We are seeking an experienced science communications professional to lead the LNCO communication activities. More>


September 2, 2015

Since 2011, the NCEAS Working Group The effects of global change on malaria transmission: A meta-analysis has been working to understand how changes in temperature and precipitation will affect transmission of infectious diseases, to ensure better management. Thus far the Working Group has been extremely productive, finding that peak transmission of disease actually occurs at lower temperatures than was previously believed. More>

August 31, 2015

The NCEAS Marine debris: Scale and impact of trash in ocean ecosystems Working Group synthesized seabird studies dating back to the early 1960’s. The results revealed that plastics are becoming increasingly common in the guts of seabirds and predict that plastic ingestion will affect approximately 99% of all seabird species by the year 2050.



August 31, 2015

Creating a model that uses climate-velocity trajectories along with information on thermal tolerances and habitat preferences, scientists from the NCEAS Working Group, Towards Understanding Marine Biological Impacts of Climate Change, were able to project changes in species richness and community composition, which is crucial for adaptive ecosystem management. This new approach enables modeling of over 12 times more species than previous studies. More>


August 21, 2015

Ecological food web modeling has been a research focus since 1872 when Thomas Malthus suggested the theory that availability of resources constrains consumer population growth. Since then thousands of modeling studies have been conducted exploring the consumer-resource relationship. Yet, it was not until just recently that an NCEAS Working Group was able to connect the variables from classical consumer-resource models to create a mathematical expression which underlies the structure of all food webs. The NCEAS Parasites and Food Webs Working Group published their findings in Science More>


August 10, 2015

The Science for Nature and People (SNAP) partnership announced plans to expand its activities in response to growing demand for solutions at the intersection of nature conservation, human well-being, and economic development — demand that is expected to increase further when the UN's Sustainable Development Goals are announced in September. Following this year’s call for proposals, the partnership has launched two new Working Groups and the scale-up of a third. The first is Biocultural Indicators across Pacific Island communities, and the second is Faith Groups & Conservation. The Evidence-Based Conservation Working Group started earlier this year will now expand considerably. More>


August 4, 2015

UC Santa Barbara has recently been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the site of the first national communications office for the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. A $3.5 million NSF grant will fund this communications office and it will be operated by UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) — taking advantage of NCEAS' experience in the support of multi-site collaboration and synthetic research, along with graduate training and environmental science communication.More>


August 1, 2015

NCEAS is celebrating 20 years as a synthesis center! 

For the past two decades, NCEAS has brought together scientists, policy-makers, and resource managers in dynamic Working Groups, with the goal of tackling significant questions in ecology and the environment in order to rapidly advance scientific understanding and address critical environmental challenges for the benefit of society. The Anniversary Report explores the impacts NCEAS has had over the last 20 years, celebrates our collaborators, and highlights the programs which are driving future collaborations and discovery. More>

July 21, 2015

Marine ecosystems can experience abrupt and drastic changes in ecological functioning and structure, attributed to thresholds known as tipping points. When these tipping points are reached, a system reacts by completely reorganizing. Empirical evidence shows ecosystem tipping points exist in every ecosystem type, yet often times tipping points are not considered when management plans are developed. The NCEAS resident scientists leading the Ocean Tipping Points project have identified seven marine tipping point principles outlined in a newly released paper in the ESA Journal. More>

July 20, 2015

Join NCEAS and the SNAP Partnership at two conferences in August!

August 2th to August 6thInternational Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB), Montpellier, France

August 9th to August 14thEcological Society of America (ESA) Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland

June 25, 2015

Five years after groundbreaking research first mapped cumulative human impacts on the ocean in 2008, Halpern et al. have published an update in Nature Communications that shows changes in cumulative impact during the study period (2008-2013). Across the 19 studied anthropogenic stressors cumulative human impact is increasing and primarily driven by climate change conditions. As with the original study, all associated data, maps, and tools are open and publicly available. More>


June 4, 2015

With a warming climate, there is still uncertainty around how rising temperatures, drought, and insect outbreaks will affect the survival of sensitive tree species in water-scarce areas of the US. A new NCEAS study addresses some of these uncertainties by determining the impacts of both drought and insects - two major factors affecting tree mortality - on forest health. More>


June 2, 2015

On Thursday 28 May 2015, Rafael “Rafe” Sagarin, associate research scientist at the University of Arizona and NCEAS collaborator and friend, was tragically killed while riding his bicycle near Oracle Junction, AZ. This is a significant loss to the NCEAS community and the scientific community as a whole. Rafe was a well loved and respected scientist whose creativity influenced the field of ecology in numerous ways. His combination of passion, creative genius, and his deep care for both humanity and the planet will be profoundly missed. More>


May 6, 2015

Want to design and code open science software? Openings @NCEAS in beautiful Santa Barbara.

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis is seeking two talented Science Software Engineers to join our open science Informatics team. We create software infrastructure that enables open, reproducible, environmental synthesis at global scales using a federated approach to sharing and managing scientific data and analysis code. More >



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