NCEAS News and Announcements

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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.


October 1, 2013

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has asked UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) to select scientists who can ensure that the science behind the status of the gray wolf as an endangered species is properly vetted by a sound, peer review process.

September 24, 2013

The first Working Group of Science for Nature and People (SNAP) takes place this week at NCEAS. “We welcome the working group participants for Western Amazonia: Balancing infrastructure Development and Conservation of Waters, Wetlands, and Fisheries, which includes international experts from Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research, National University of the Peruvian Amazon, the United Nations Development Program, the MacArthur Foundation, and the founding partners – NCEAS, The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society,” said Frank Davis NCEAS director and a member of SNAP’s governing board.


September 16, 2013

Can resource development and environmental sustainability coexist in a changing arctic ocean?


Interests are awakening globally to take advantage of the extensive energy, shipping, fishing, and tourism opportunities associated with diminishing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. These environmental state-changes are generating risks of political, economic, and cultural instabilities that will affect societies at all levels—from local to international.

August 26, 2013

From October 28 - November 1, 2013 in Florence, Italy, the Semantics for Biodiversity Symposium will be offered as part of the TDWG Annual Conference 2013, an event widely attended by international experts in biodiversity informatics. The new Symposium on semantics for biodiversity has been co-organized by NCEAS' Director of Computing Mark Schildhauer and SONet Postdoctoral Associate Benjamin Adams, in collaboration with colleagues at UC Berkeley, the iPlant Collaborative, Arizona State University, University of Colorado, California Academy of Sciences, and other key institutions.
August 21, 2013

Women rarely give birth after about 45 years of age, and they experience the cessation of reproductive cycles, menopause, at about age 50 after a fertility decline lasting almost two decades. Such reproductive aging in mid-lifespan is an evolutionary puzzle of enduring interest because it should be inherently disadvantageous. This study compared the reproductive aging in seven species of nonhuman primates in natural populations to humans. Results provide strong evidence that reproductive aging in midlife is generally absent in other primates.
August 13, 2013

Invasive species, Rumex crispus, San Diego, CA. Photo Credit: Stickpen via Wikipedia Commons

In Spring 2011, NCEAS facilitated the first-ever undergraduate distributed seminar which provided opportunities for students to do field research, network, share strategies, and form collaborations with students at eight other institutions. The seminar’s results filled a hole in collective ecology knowledge and were published in the August 2013 edition of BioScience magazine.



August 12, 2013

Software lifecycle

On August 13-14, 2013 a diverse group of more than 30 scientists from the environmental and Earth sciences are convening at NCEAS to help shape a vision for a new software institute for environmental science. Scientists will participate in one of two parallel workshops focusing on the Software Lifecycle and Software Components.  Workshop leaders are Peter Fox from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Chris Mattmann from the University of Southern California, and Mark Schildhauer and Matt Jones from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

August 1, 2013

Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, yet our knowledge of the impact of climate change on marine habitats is a mere drop in the proverbial ocean compared to terrestrial systems. The journal Nature Climate Change published the new findings of a three-year study conducted by a NCEAS working group which shows that warming oceans are causing marine species to change breeding, feeding, and migration timing as well as shift where they live. Widespread systemic shifts in measures such as distribution of species and phenology — the timing of nature’s calendar — are on a scale comparable to or greater than those observed on land.



July 22, 2013

The Annual Ecological Society of America (ESA) Conference is being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in early August. If you are attending the conference, NCEAS hopes that you will join Mark Schildhauer, director of computing, and Matt Jones, director of informatics research, for one or more of their workshops, ignite sessions, or special sessions (outlined below). NCEAS Working Groups are also presenting two Contributed Oral Papers listed below on engaging undergraduate students in Ecology and Big Data. Also don't miss the NCEAS-SESYNC 'Pathways to Opportunity' Mixer scheduled for Wednesday, August 7 from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at the Vincent A Restaurant, just up the street. No RSVP required.



July 10, 2013

NCEAS’ Matt Jones Convenes Plenary Discussion, "Envisioning a Software Institute to Accelerate Environmental Science", at the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Conference. The Software Institutes for Sustained Innovation (S2I2) program, created by the National Science Foundation, is planning a new institute that can accelerate science and engineering through advances in software.  Matt Jones, NCEAS' Director of Informatics, and PI of the "Institute for Sustainable Earth and Environmental Software (ISEES)" planning effort, has convened three environmentally-related software planning initiatives to present and discuss their Institute visions at the annual conference of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP).  Video now available (session starts at 16:20) 


July 6, 2013

Tropical Forest Bloosoms

Until recently, scientific thinking used to posit that tropical forests, which already exist in warm climates, may not be impacted much by climate change. But a new study conducted by the NCEAS Working Group - Forecasting Phenology: Integrating Ecology, Climatology, and Phylogeny to Understand Plant Responses to Climate Change - shows that to be erroneous. In fact, the results indicate that tropical forests are producing more flowers in response to only slight increases in temperature. The findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.



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