Understanding how humans value and use ecosystems from a cultural aspect is vital for efforts to make social-ecological systems sustainable. Human preferences and values are nonmaterial and accordingly they are difficult to characterize for ecosystem management. Emerging techniques eliciting qualitative and quantitative data provide feasible means of deepening understanding of the nonmaterial dimensions of complex human-ecosystem relationships.
The NCEAS Working Group, Cultural ecosystem services from marine and coastal systems: Counting the intangibles, has produced three new research projects that provide a framework for employing quantitative and—where necessary—qualitative methods to explicitly consider cultural values in ecosystem planning. More>
The debate over fuel-reduction techniques is only a small part of a much larger fire problem that makes society increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic losses. An international review, led by Max Moritz, a specialist in fire at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources and a NCEAS Associate, calls for changes in our fundamental approach to wildfire: from fighting fire to coexisting with fire as a natural process. The findings appear today the journal Nature.
“We don’t try to ‘fight’ earthquakes — we anticipate them in the way we plan communities, build buildings and prepare for emergencies,” said lead author Moritz. “We don’t think that way about fire, but our review indicates that we should...." More>
The NCEAS Environment and Organisms Working Group has assembled a state-of-the-art set of environmental layers that incorporate well-known but rarely used measures that have direct links to physiological processes into a unified, global, high-resolution dataset for land-cover. Additionally, the team has identified best practices for generating fine-grained air temperature datasets at 1-km scale. The results of this Working Group have recently appeared in two peer-reviewed publications. More>
Human facilitated movement of pathogens, broad-scale landscape changes, and perturbations to ecological systems are just a few of the reasons that emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are increasing. The impacts of infectious diseases in wild populations are not restricted to wild animals and plants and have the potential to threaten public health. A NCEAS Working Group looked at previously developed infectious disease models to determine if they were sufficient explaining the large impacts that recently emerging fungal diseases or if other unique features of fungal diseases are contributing to their impacts. More>
The availability of nutrients in our environment is being modified by humans including a doubling of nitrogen (N) inputs and a quadrupling of phosphorus (P) inputs relative to pre-industrial levels. The NCEAS Working Group "Comparing trophic structure across ecosystems" conducted a meta-analysis of 118 field and laboratory experiments in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems to better understand how nutrients, independently or in combination, influence the growth of primary producers. The findings of their analysis were recently published in Oikos. More >
To Frack or Not to Frack?
The SNAP Hydraulic Fracturing Working Group is developing better science to inform policy and management practices with regards to the potential effects of water withdrawals and chemical contamination associated with hydraulic fracturing. This interdisciplinary group of ecologists, hydrologists and legal experts is synthesizing fine-scale information from the 48 contiguous states and reviewing existing water use and waste management plans. More>
To help meet the challenges of geoscience research in an age of Big Data, NSF has recently awarded UCSB’s NCEAS and partner organizations an EarthCube Building Block grant, GeoLink. GeoLink will advance the use of techniques in Linked Open Data and the Semantic Web to help confederate disparate earth science data resources, focused initially on oceanographic information archived in several major national data repositories. More>
Meeting the needs for open, persistent, robust and accessible Earth observation data
SNAP: Science for People and Nature announces the addition of four new Working Groups to its growing portfolio of solution-oriented scientific inquiries – from exploring how video games could overturn entrenched perceptions about climate change to using evidence-based conservation to make the right decisions for people and nature. The four new working groups are:
- Evidence-Based Conservation: Making the Right Decisions for People and Nature
- Forest Sharing or Sparing: Maintaining Timber Production While Improving Outcomes for Carbon, Conservation and Water
- Gaming the Future of Climate Communications: Can Video Games Succeed Where Traditional Climate Communications Have Failed?
- Fisheries Measures: Measuring the Status of Fisheries and Factors Leading to Success
Most comprehensive Ocean Health score – Global Oceans score of 67 out of 100
The third annual update from the Ocean Health Index, a partnership led by scientists from UC Santa Barbara's NCEAS and Conservation International, is the first to include scores for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean (72 out of 100*) and the 15 ocean regions beyond national jurisdiction (67 out of 100 for the high seas areas). Together with the 220 Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) measured in 2012 and 2013, the Index now measures all of the oceans on planet Earth. More>
Understanding the causes of species richness across the latitudinal gradient is still elusive. The Botanical Information and Ecology Network (BIEN) Working Group at NCEAS compared a range of ecological theories for explaining biodiversity, such as neutral dynamics, competitive exclusion, and environmental filtering, for how well these predict functional diversity at varying scales. They found that patterns of functional trait diversity are not consistent with any one theory of biodiversity. These conflicting results indicate that no single biodiversity theory considered alone is able to explain the latitudinal gradient of species diversity in terms of functional trait space. The findings of this analysis recently appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). More>
NCEAS now seeks a Postdoctoral Associate to conduct synthesis research for the Gulf of Alaska while in residence at NCEAS for two years starting Fall/Winter 2014. Successful candidates will utilize data gathered by NCEAS, along with other existing information, to conduct and publish holistic synthesis and analyses of driving processes and perturbations within complex ecosystem of the Gulf of Alaska. Postdoctoral Associates will pursue their own independent synthesis of the available Gulf of Alaska data while also collaborating with two Gulf of Alaska long-term synthesis Working Groups. Applications are due by October 1, 2014. More>
From September 2 to 4, more than 70 scientists from all over the world gathered in Santa Barbara for the first-ever Open Science Codefest. OSCodefest brought together computer programmers and environmental scientists who typically work in isolation to collaborate, problem solve, code, and share skills. This conference was organized to stimulate productivity and community building, while providing ample opportunities for collaborative coding and design sessions. By the conclusion of the meeting, over 20 breakout sessions had been completed, and these new collaborations for skill-sharing and product generation will continue long beyond OSCodefest. More>
NCEAS seeks a Scientific Programmer/Analyst (Computer and Network Technologist III) to consult with and advise NCEAS researchers on efficient, appropriate, and powerful computational and informatics approaches for advancing scientific investigations. The Scientific Programmer/Analyst will develop, test, and support analyses and informatics products using best-of-class and open-science inspired technologies. The ideal candidate will give formal instruction, as well as ad hoc assistance in the use of these cutting edge solutions. The Scientific Programmer/Analyst works with NCEAS developers and cyber-infrastructure collaborators to optimize interoperability and long-term sustainability of these codebases and datasets as generalized resources for ecological and conservation science researchers. More>