NCEAS News and Announcements

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April 9, 2012

 Frasier fir killed by the balsam woolly adelgid NCEAS researchers report in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment that almost 70 percent of the most damaging non-native forest insects and diseases currently afflicting U.S. forests arrive via imported live plants. Once introduced, some of these imported insects and disease organisms establish, and a fraction become major economic pests. The authors describe several possible means to increase bio-security, including intensified efforts at plant inspection stations, precautionary measures that restrict plants from entering the U.S. until risks have been assessed, expanding post-entry quarantines, developing better advance knowledge about pest insects and pathogens, and developing integrated systems approaches that depend on expanded partnerships between researchers and industry.

Live plant imports: the major pathway for forest insect and pathogen invasions of the US
Andrew M. Liebhold, Eckehard G. Brockerhoff, Lynn J. Garrett, Jennifer L. Parke, and Kerry O. Britton
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(3), 135-143, 2012

UCSB press release

The following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
New York Times, Green Blog:Who Knows What Bugs Lurk in Imported Plants?

More information about this project's research, participants and publications

April 9, 2012

Big Horned Sheep, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA A new study published in Landscape Ecology evaluates the ways that spatial uncertainty, landscape characteristics, and genetic stochasticity interact to influence the strength and variability of conclusions about landscape-genetics relationships.

March 29, 2012

'Learning from the Octopus' Book Cover"Learning From the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters and Disease" explores security challenges we face, and shows us how we might learn to respond more effectively to the unknown threats lurking in our future. The main premise of the book is that natural organisms have learned to thrive in an unpredictable and risk filled planet without having the power to plan, predict, or try to perfect themselves.

Learning From the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks,
Natural Disasters and Disease

By Rafe Sagarin
Published by Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group

Following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
AAAS News: Ecologist Rafe Sagarin: Applying Nature's Lessons to Modern Security Challenges
Book excerpt in The Week:  What we can learn from the Octopus
Huffington Post:  10 Lessons You Can Learn from Nature (PHOTOS)
Scientific American:  What Can an Octopus Teach Us About National Security? A Q&A with Ecologist Rafe Sagarin
Slate:  How Smart is the Octopus?
Stanford Magazine:  Tide Pools & Terrorists
Wired:  When Catastrophe Strikes, Emulate the Octopus

More information about this project's research , participants and publications

March 1, 2012

NCEAS, DataONE, and LTER logos We are pleased to announce a training workshop “Software Tools for Sensor Networks” sponsored by NCEAS, LTER, and DataONE. The training workshop will be held May 1 - May 4, 2012 at the LTER Network Office in Albuquerque, NM. We have support to cover travel and lodging for participants that need it. Registration is now open with a deadline of March 25, 2012. Please see to register. Your participation will be confirmed by April 2, 2012. Participants will be selected to broadly represent the ecological and environmental science community. A draft agenda and resources are currently listed on the webpage and will be more fully detailed in the coming weeks.

February 29, 2012

photo of Gaviota PeakGraduate programs have placed an increasing emphasis on the importance of interdisciplinary education, but barriers to interdisciplinary training still remain. This article, published in BioScience, summarizes the lessons learned from a highly successful implementation of NCEAS' distributed graduate seminar in the new field of landscape genetics.

Developing an Interdisciplinary, Distributed Graduate Course for Twenty-First Century Scientists
H.H. Wagner, M.A. Murphy, R. Holderegger, L. Waits
BioScience, 62(2):182-188, Feb 2012

More information about this Distributed Graduate Seminar

February 7, 2012

African Ape Infectious disease has recently joined poaching and habitat loss as a major threat to African apes. A study published in PLoS ONE explores both the risk of disease to African apes, and the status of potential interventions.

Consequences of Non-Intervention for Infectious Disease in African Great Apes
Sadie J. Ryan and Peter D. Walsh
PLoS ONE, 6(12): e29030, 2011

UCSB press release

Following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
Futurity: To battle disease, apes may need vaccines

More information about this project's research, participants and publications

February 2, 2012

Gian jellyfish clogging fishing nets in Japan A new study published in BioScience questions claims that jellyfish are increasing worldwide, and suggests that such claims currently are not supported with any hard evidence or scientific analyses to date. Increased speculation and discrepancies about current and future jellyfish blooms by the media and in climate and science reports formed the motivation for this Working Group to convene at NCEAS to examine available data. Over 30 researchers have contributed to this research, assembling globally distributed jellyfish data to examine global jellyfish trends for the first time.

Questioning the rise of gelatinous zooplankton in the world's oceans
Robert H. Condon, William M. Graham, Carlos M. Duarte, Kylie A. Pitt, Cathy H. Lucas, Steven H.D. Haddock, Kelly R. Sutherland, Kelly L. Robinson, Michael N Dawson, Mary Beth Decker, Claudia E. Mills, Jennifer E. Purcell, Alenka Malej, Hermes Mianzan, Shin-ichi Uye, Stefan Gelcich, and Laurence P. Madin
BioScience, 62(2), 160-169, 2012

UCSB press release and video

Following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
New York Times, Green blog: Evidence for Jellyfish Invasion is Lacking, Study Says
Scientific American: Marine Biologists Uncertain About 'Attack of the Jellyfish'
Live Science: News of Jellyfish Takeover Unfounded, Scientists Say

More information about this project's research, participants and publications

January 19, 2012

Cattle-pasture fire in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Photo credit: Jennifer K. Balch A new study published in Nature reveals that human land-use activity has begun to change the regional water and energy cycles -- the interplay of air coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, water transpiration by the forest, and solar radiation -- of parts of the Amazon basin. In addition, it shows that ongoing interactions of deforestation, fire, and climate change have the potential to alter carbon storage, rainfall patterns and river discharge on an even larger basinwide scale.

The Amazon basin in transition
Eric A. Davidson, Alessandro C. de Araújo, Paulo Artaxo, Jennifer K. Balch, I. Foster Brown, Mercedes M. C. Bustamante, Michael T. Coe, Ruth S. DeFries, Michael Keller, Marcos Longo, J. William Munger, Wilfrid Schroeder, Britaldo S. Soares-Filho, Carlos M. Souza and Steven C. Wofsy
Nature, 481, 321-328, 2012

UCSB press release

Following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
Yahoo! News (UK & Ireland):  Amazon Basin shifting to carbon emitter
TG Daily:  Amazon basin becoming carbon emitter Deforestation, climate change threaten the ecological resilience of the Amazon rainforest
BBC (radio): Carbon emissions from Amazon forest

More information about related project

January 5, 2012

Frank Davis, Director and Stephanie Hampton, Deputy Director Dear NCEAS community,

Greetings from Santa Barbara! As we start the new year, we would like to take a moment to share with you some of NCEAS' highlights of 2011.

December 28, 2011

Invasive Japanese Climbing FernResearchers find the U.S. could be exposed to a range of new invasive species, including many from tropical and semiarid Africa as well as the Middle East. This emerging threat is intensifying the need for preemptive screening of nursery stock species prior to import

Global change, global trade, and the next wave of plant invasions
B.A. Bradley, D.M. Blumenthal, R. Early, E.D. Grosholz, J.J. Lawler, L.P. Miller, C. JB Sorte, C.M. D’Antonio, J.M. Diez, J.S. Dukes, I. Ibanez, and J.D. Olden
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, (online 2 Dec 2011)

UCSB press release
KCLU, public radio interview

More information about this project's research, participants and publications

December 7, 2011

Jai Ranganathan and Jarrett Byrnes

Inspired by the spirit of collaboration and a shared passion for bringing science research to a wider audience, NCEAS Center Associate Jai Ranganathan and NCEAS Postdoc Jarrett Byrnes developed a creative new initiative called the SciFund Challenge. Instead of ivory tower research, the SciFund Challenge brings proposed science projects to the people to connect everyone to the excitement of doing science.  

The SciFund Challenge inspired the passion and creativity of 49 scientists who engage in diverse research projects. The SciFund Challenge blog offers an insider's view of the development and evolution of the initiative.

Jai and Jarrett's groundbreaking effort to fund small-scale research projects via crowdfunding within the SciFund Challenge has been featured in a variety of U.S. and international media:

Forbes: Crowdfunding for Science and STEM Education
MSNBC : It’s the science of money — here’s how you can help
Scientific American : To study backward-finned dolphin, researcher sources crowds for cash
CNN : Who were the 99% of ancient Rome?
Europa Press : Three Spanish researchers seeking funding on the Internet (in Spanish)
The Asian Scientist : The #SciFund Challenge – science funding through crowdsourcing
Check out the full list of coverage by traditional and new media, with articles in Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
November 29, 2011

Collaborators Analysis of NCEAS data finds that face-to-face interaction and involvement of resident scientists are among the most important factors leading to successful synthesis groups. In addition, this study found that participation in synthesis groups increases scientists' tendencies to collaborate with others.

Collaboration and Productivity in Scientific Synthesis
SE Hampton and JN Parker
BioScience, 61(11):900-910, 2011

UCSB press release with video

Media coverage of this study:
Noozhawk: UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Serves as Model
November 15, 2011

SACNAS logoNCEAS recently joined with other National Science Foundation-sponsored science and math synthesis centers to support "Empowering Innovation and Synergy Through Diversity", the 2011 national conference of SACNAS, a society dedicated to Advancing Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

As part of the conference program, postdoctoral researchers from NCEAS, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) participated in a career mentoring session and presented at a symposium "Hot Topics in Ecology: Climate Change."

November 3, 2011

photo of playful dolphins jumping in opposite directions in the open oceanA new study published in the journal Science found that, at certain latitudes, both the speed and direction of climate change and shifts in the seasonal timing of temperatures are changing more quickly in the ocean than on land. This may introduce conservation concerns because the more rapid changes often occur in areas of high marine diversity.

The Pace of Shifting Climate in Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems
M.T. Burrows, D.S. Schoeman, L.B. Buckley, P. Moore, E.S. Poloczanska, K.M. Brander, C. Brown, J.F. Bruno, C.M. Duarte, B.S. Halpern, J. Holding, C.V. Kappel, W. Kiessling, M.I. O’Connor, J.M. Pandolfi, C. Parmesan, F.B. Schwing, W.J. Sydeman, A.J. Richardson
Science Vol. 334 no. 6056 pp. 652-655 (online 3 Nov 2011)
U.C. Santa Barbara press release

Following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:
The Atlantic: New Evidence That Climate Change Threatens Marine Biodiversity
ABC Australia: Climate change affecting oceans faster: Study
Times of India: Marine life 'needs to swim faster to survive climate change'
Sky News Australia: Aussie marine life climate change threat
The Australian: Marine life in climate change hot water
Softpedia: Species will have to move fast to adapt to climate change
Fish Update: Climate shifts could leave some species homeless, new research shows
Deccan Chronicle (India): Marine life 'needs to swim faster to survive climate change' Climate warming poses serious conservation challenge for marine life

Featured Summary of this research project

More information about this Working Group's research and publications

November 1, 2011

Text of the University of California press release:

Important questions are challenging researchers today: Where should their research data reside? How can they make the data discoverable by other investigators and repurposed in new ways? Would allowing others to access the data help advance their fields or their careers?

The University of California and several other major research institutions have partnered to develop the DMPTool, a flexible online application to help researchers generate data management plans — simple but effective documents for ensuring good data stewardship. These plans increasingly are being required by funders such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF). The DMPTool supports data management plans and funder requirements across the disciplines, including the humanities and physical, medical and social sciences.

When researchers openly and collaboratively share their data, advances in fields can occur much more quickly and effectively, as reported in the New York Times for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease research. The DMPTool will help in this effort.

September 22, 2011

photo of the interior of a shaded temperate forest carpeted by plants and vinesThe temperate forests of Canada or Northern Europe may have much more in common with the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia or South America than previously believed, according to a research group sponsored by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS).

Disentangling the drivers of β-diversity along latitudinal and elevational gradients
N.J.B. Kraft, L.S. Comita, J.M. Chase, N.J. Sanders, N.G. Swenson, T.O. Crist, J.C. Stegen, M. Vellend, B. Boyle, M.J. Anderson, H.V. Cornell, K.F. Davies, A.L. Freestone, B.D. Inouye, S.P. Harrison, J.A. Myers
Science (online 22 Sept 2011)

U.C. Santa Barbara press release

Featured Summary of this research project

More information about this Working Group's research and publications

September 14, 2011

panoramic photo of a wildfire glowing brightly in the night sky behind a country club and golf course in CanadaInheritors of a fire-prone planet Earth, humans have developed a complex and diverse relationship with fire throughout history. Better understanding of the role of humans in altering Earth's past, present and future fire regimes can help to clarify the respective influence of humans and natural dynamics.

The human dimension of fire regimes on Earth
D.M.J.S. Bowman, J. Balch, P. Artaxo, W.J. Bond, M.A. Cochrane, C.M. D’Antonio, R. DeFries, F.H. Johnston, J.E. Keeley, M.A. Krawchuk, C.A. Kull, M. Mack, M.A. Moritz, S. Pyne, C.I. Roos, A.C. Scott, N.S. Sodhi, T.W. Swetnam
Journal of Biogeography (online 14 Sept 2011)

U.C. Santa Barbara press release
National Science Foundation (NSF) video of NCEAS postdoc Jennifer Balch discussing this study

A sample of the media coverage of this study:
ClimateWire: New framework to help managers assess the role of fire in communities
Scientific American: New research details wise and foolish fire activities throughout human evolution
Science Daily: Our future will be shaped by fire
Fire Engineering: Researchers analyze the evolving human relationship with fire
Climate Spectator (Australia): Playing with fire

Featured Summary of this research project

More information about this Working Group's research and publications

September 9, 2011

close-up photo of an inch-long, shiny green insect--commonly called a Emerald Ash Borer--on the underside of a large tree leafA group of ecologists and economists find that non-native forest insects in the U.S. cost billions of dollars, and governments and homeowners pay the price.

Economic Impacts of Non-Native Forest Insects in the Continental United States
J.E. Aukema, B. Leung K. Kovacs, C. Chivers, K.O. Britton, J. Englin, S.J. Frankel, R.G. Haight, T.P. Holmes, A. Liebhold, D.G. McCullough, B.Von Holle
PLoS One 6(9): e24587 (9 Sept 2011)

The findings of this research paper were cited in support of the Safeguarding American Agriculture Act of 2011 proposed by U.S. Senators Akaka & Feinstein:
"A research team comprised of biologists and economists from U.S. and Canadian universities and the U.S. Forest Service published a study last month finding that invasive wood-boring pests, such as the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle, cost homeowners an estimated $830 million a year in lost property values and cost local governments an estimated $1.7 billion a year as a result of damaged trees and woodlands."

A sample of the media coverage of this study:
NY Times Green blog: The Toll From Tree-Boring Pests
The Nature Conservancy: Forest Pests: Boring a hole in your wallet
Miller-McCune: Body Count: Putting a Price on Invasive Insect Damage
Conservation Magazine: Boring Expenses
Scientific American podcast: Invasive Insects Take Big Cash Bite
Wall Street Journal Ideas Market blog: Taxpayers feel bite from invasive species
Consumer Reports: Non-native insects costs taxpayers billions each year

More information about this Working Group's research and publications

August 23, 2011

Dr. Jennifer Balch, Postdoctoral Associate at NCEAS, recently taught a module on the relationship between fire and an invasive grass at Diné College, a public institution chartered by the Navajo Nation. Dr. Balch and Prof. Marnie Carroll at Diné College designed this module as part of the working group "Engaging Undergraduate Students In Ecological Investigations Using Large, Public Datasets." Fifteen sophomores from the Navajo Nation participated in the course where they learned how to manipulate NASA satellite data on fire to explore how cheatgrass increases burned area in the Great Basin.

A class of Navajo undergraduate students poses with their teacher            Photo of Navajo students concentrating on assignments at their desks

August 15, 2011

photo of fishermen in heavy duty clothing working to sort their catch aboard a large fishing boat [From ESA press release]: The Ecological Society of America (ESA) awarded the 2011 Sustainability Science Award to the paper “Rebuilding Global Fisheries,” published in Science in 2009. The study--resulting from collaboration between scientists who initially had conflicting opinions about future scenarios for the sustainability of global fisheries--integrates the data, methods and analyses of a diverse group to address controversies and form a consensual view regarding a long-standing issue in global food security.

Read the full press announcement, including all of ESA’s 2011 award winners.

ESA's Sustainability Science Award is given to the authors of a scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences.

The 2011 winners are:
Worm, B., Hilborn, R., Baum, J.K., Branch, T.A., Collie, J.S., Costello, C., Fogarty, M.J., Fulton, E.A., Hutchings, J.A., Jennings, S., Jensen, O.P., Lotze, H.K., Mace, P.M., McClanahan, T.R., Palumbi, S.R., Parma, A.M., Rikard, D., Rosenberg, A.A., Zeller, D. & Minto, C.
Rebuilding Global Fisheries
Science 325 pp.578-585 (31 Jul 2009)
Previous worldwide media coverage of this study.

Descriptions of the research project and related Distributed Graduate Seminar that produced this paper

More information about the research participants and other publications

Rebuilding Fisheries Website


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