NCEAS News and Announcements

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February 10, 2014

Peregrine falcon.  Photo Credit: Erickson

A NCEAS Working Group examined data from 147 cities worldwide and found surprisingly high numbers of plant and animal species that persist and even flourish in urban environments — to the tune of hundreds of bird species and thousands of plant species in a single city. Contrary to conventional wisdom that cities are a wasteland for biodiversity, the study found the overall mix of species in cities reflects the unique biotic heritage of their geographic location. The findings of the study were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences.


February 7, 2014

Black crappie fish

International NCEAS Working Group tracks how fast and in which direction local climates — and species — have shifted


A new study provides an innovative global map of where species are likely to succeed or fail in keeping up with a changing climate. The findings appear in the science journal Nature. A NCEAS Working Group of 18 international researchers analyzed 50 years of sea surface and land temperature data (1960-2009). They also projected temperature changes under two future scenarios, one that assumes greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized by 2100 and a second that assumes these emissions continue to increase. The resulting maps display where new temperature conditions are being generated and where existing environments may disappear.


February 6, 2014

Wolf.  Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As a result of controversy surrounding the US Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) proposal to remove the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) from the endangered species list and add the Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), the Service commissioned the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) to conduct an unbiased assessment and clarify critical scientific issues.
February 3, 2014

Kepler Logo

NCEAS Informatics’ mission is to create and advance technologies and methods that enable robust, reproducible science in ecology and environmental sciences. NCEAS’ Informatics work is conducted with a number of partner collaborators and impacts the way ecological research is conducted, especially relative to synthesis and collaboration, which depend so heavily on extending access to relevant data.

January 29, 2014


Frank Davis, director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), and fellow University of California, Santa Barbara professors discuss the challenges of drought in California when coupled with a warming climate in a article, One-Two Punch of Drought, Global Warming, by Shelly Leachman.


January 29, 2014

Halloween pennant dragronfly.  Photo credit: Meng Kay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Increases in the frequency, duration, and severity of temperature extremes are anticipated in the near future. Ecologists widely recognize the potential for warming temperatures to affect species’ home range and life cycles, diversity, and ecosystem functions and services. A recent study published by an NCEAS Working Group takes a closer look at how species respond to increasing average temperatures coupled with anticipated temperature variations and extremes.

January 27, 2014

Dear NCEAS Community,

Happy New Year from Santa Barbara!  We hope to connect with many of you in the coming year – whether through a submission to an upcoming Call for Proposals, as a participant in a new Working Group, or hosting your own collaboration workshop at NCEAS. As we head into 2014, we would like to take a moment to share with you some of NCEAS' 2013 highlights.



December 18, 2013

Gray Wolf

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has asked UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) to manage a completely independent and transparent review of the scientific materials used in the Service's decisions regarding the status of the Gray Wolf under the Endangered Species Act.
December 15, 2013

Ongoing collaboration among the NCEAS Summer Institute 2013 participants continues this week as teams meet face-to-face to continue work on their group projects. Extending well beyond the close of the initial three-week program, teams regroup with the intent to publish their findings and make their derived data sets publicly available. The Urban Biodiversity Project team will be meet in Oakland, CA on December 14 and 15, while the Ocean Health Evaluation: The utility of the cumulative impact index in the Southern California Bight team will meet at NCEAS from December 17 to December 19, 2013.
December 9, 2013

Fish on trawler. Photo source: NOAA

As biodiversity and ecosystem services decline worldwide, scientists and policymakers are working together to identify effective policy solutions, as evidenced by the creation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2012. To contribute to this international effort, researchers at NCEAS recently published their assessment of current uncertainties and key scientific needs related to understanding the relationship between biodiversity and six crucial ecosystem services: forage, timber, fishery stability, climate regulation, pest regulation, and water quality. Findings of the NCEAS working group Biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems: Translating results from model experiments into functional reality are published in BioScience.
December 4, 2013

NCEAS will be represented at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual fall meeting in San Francisco, California, December 9-13, by Mark Schildhauer, Director of Computing and Stacy Rebich Hespanha, NCEAS Postoctoral Associate. They will be participating in numerous sessions examining ways to enhance and accelerate science by improving the process of data discovery through text mining and visualizations, cultivating innovation in scientific software, and new data management training for scientists.  More information on the AGU annual meeting.
December 2, 2013

lugworm cast

With global production of plastic exceeding 280 metric tons every year, a fair amount of the stuff is bound to make its way to the natural environment. However, until now researchers haven’t known whether ingested plastic transfers chemical additives or pollutants to wildlife. A new study conducted by an NCEAS researcher shows that toxic concentrations of pollutants and additives enter the tissue of animals that have eaten microplastic. The findings are published today in Current Biology.

November 20, 2013

NCEAS Deputy Director, Stephanie Hampton, has been recruited by Washington State University to direct WSU's system-wide Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach (CEREO). Founded in 2006, CEREO promotes interdisciplinary environmental initiatives for researchers across all 5 WSU campuses and their national and international partners.


November 20, 2013

Recovery of overexploited marine populations has been slow, and most remain below target biomass levels. Using a global meta-analysis of overfished stocks, a NCEAS Working Group finds that resilience of those stocks subjected to moderate levels of overfishing is enhanced, not compromised, offering the possibility of swift recovery. However, prolonged intense overexploitation, especially for collapsed stocks, not only delays rebuilding but also substantially increases the uncertainty in recovery times, despite predictable influences of fishing and life history. Timely and decisive reductions in harvest rates could mitigate this uncertainty. Instead, current harvest and low biomass levels render recovery improbable for the majority of the world’s depleted stocks.


November 18, 2013

Free-air CO2 enrichment data collection systems in forest.

Predicted responses of transpiration to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration (eCO2) are highly variable amongst process-based models. To better understand and constrain this variability amongst models, a NCEAS Working Group conducted an intercomparison of 11 ecosystem models applied to data from two forest free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments at Duke University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The study yields a framework for analyzing and interpreting model predictions of transpiration responses to eCO2, and highlights key improvements to these types of models.

November 5, 2013

With increasing climate warming around the world, warm-adapted species have become more dominant—a process referred to as “thermophilization.” However, shift to warm-adapted species is not being observed uniformly, and in some taxa and regions there has been no observed change. An NCEAS Working Group focused on old-growth forests across North American and Europe have published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) their findings of a significant shift to warm-adapted species in understory of some forests and why thermophilization lags climate warming in forests with a denser canopies.


October 22, 2013

While nature provides such necessities of life as food water and shelter, and underpins and controls the conditions in which people live, it also provides important intangible benefits. A new synthesis of multidisciplinary peer-reviewed research identifies the ways in which nature (ecosystems) contribute to well-being through intangible dimensions. Conducted by a NCEAS working group, the findings are published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources. What this synthesis sought to discover was how ecosystems deliver crucial benefits  — and thus contribute culturally and psychologically to human well-being — in nonmaterial ways.


October 21, 2013

Coral reef fish Paracanthurus hepatus Photo Credit: Jim Maragos, US Fish and Wildlife Service

On October 23-24, 2013, NCEAS is hosting an Earth Cube End-User workshop of Coral Reef researchers, to identify how improved cyberinfrastructure and  Internet-enabled data tools can help address Grand Challenge questions in the Coral Reef Systems Sciences.  Organized by Ruth Gates of the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaiʻi, and Mark Schildhauer, NCEAS’ Director of Computing, this week’s workshop follows on the heels of the first workshop held in September in Hawai’i.
October 21, 2013

Catastrophic declines in African great ape populations due to disease outbreaks have been reported in recent years, yet similar disease impacts are rarely identified for the more solitary Asian great apes, or for smaller primates. Researchers have uncovered interactions between social structure, demography, and disease transmission modes that create ‘dynamic constraints’ on the pathogens that can establish and persist in primate host species with different social systems.



October 15, 2013

The Ocean Health Index (OHI) issued the updated scores for 2013 and identified food provision as the factor that continues to require the most attention. OHI defines a healthy ocean as one that sustainably delivers a range of benefits to people now and in the future based on 10 diverse public goals. The 2013 global score of 65 out of 100 matches last year’s inaugural assessment and demonstrates the ongoing need for more effective management of this precious resource.



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