NCEAS researchers set out to strengthen conclusions and increase confidence about how climate change affects biological systems. The resulting meta-analysis published in Global Ecology and Biogeography, O'Connor et al. (2014) outlines a framework to guide the assessment of the strength of inferences in climate change impact studies. Using this framework outline, the team developed a confidence index (Cindex) and used it to assess the confidence in marine climate impact studies' conclusions to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement in future studies. More>
Analyzing the geographic distributions of more than 13,000 plant species, NCEAS Working Group conducted the first comprehensive assessment of native vs. non-native plant distribution in the continental United States, comparing native and non-native species to identify differences in their overall geography. Published in the latest issue of Global Ecology and Biogeography, their findings included a few surprises. They found that native plant species are much less limited by climate as once assumed; instead other non-climate related factors or interactions with other species can prevent native species from moving into new environments. More>
Dear NCEAS Community,
All of us at NCEAS wish you great success and happiness in 2015!
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently issued a final rule on the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) designating it as a subspecies of the gray wolf with it own Endangered Species status. Additionally, USFWS issued a revised experimental population rule expanding the area the Mexican wolf is allowed to occupy. The decisions were based on the recommendations of the 2014 independent scientific peer review panel, conducted by National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). More>
NPR's Radiolab recently presented a podcast, "How Do You Put a Price Tag On Nature?" featuring the work of two NCEAS Ecosystem Services Working Groups - Robert Costanza et al. and their work on the total valuation of the world's ecosystems and the Pollinator's Working Group led by Claire Kremen, focused on the economic valuation of pollinators. More>
Jellyfish have been labeled as a nuisance species, likened to that of wasps, cockroaches, and others, obscuring any understanding of their value (positive, neutral, or negative) in terms of ecosystem services. In some regions of the world, jellyfish bloom size, frequency, period, and magnitude is increasing, directly effecting ecosystem services. The NCEAS Working Group, "Global expansion of jellyfish blooms: Magnitude, causes and consequences," has evaluated the benefits and costs of jellyfish, shedding light on the impacts of increased human modification and interactions with coastal ecosystems. Understanding the costs to human well-being if jellyfish populations increase is addressed in this research published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. More>
Everything you know about crowdfunding is wrong, and that is good news for scientists. Crowdfunding is the practice of financing a project or venture through contributions from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. NCEAS associates have conducted the first study that quantifies what factors are needed for success in crowdfunding for science. The findings of their experiment, #SciFund Challenge, were twofold: The success of science crowdfunding efforts depends on researchers building an audience for their science before the crowdfunding begins as well as engaging that audience throughout the fundraising period. Their analysis appeared in the journal PLOS ONE and covered in Nature. More>
NCEAS has created a new advisory group who will provide Frank Davis, NCEAS' Director, and his senior staff with counsel on new projects and initiatives. The Science Advisers are a group of leading thinkers in ecology and environmental science who will help the organization anticipate and cultivate important emerging areas for research, environmental informatics, and training, and help us assess new funding opportunities that will allow NCEAS to continue to serve our research community.
NCEAS Science Advisers include: Stephanie Hampton (Chair), Jennifer Balch, Carl Boettiger, Christopher Costello, John Drake, and Hillary Young. More>
Science for Nature and People (SNAP) — a new science initiative with NCEAS, The Nature Conservancy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) that is producing solutions to issues at the intersection of nature conservation and human wellbeing — has named the renowned conservation innovator Craig Groves as its first full-time executive director. Groves, whose nearly 30-year scientific career includes authoring the book regarded as the bible of conservation planning, assumes the directorship of SNAP just as the initiative is poised in 2015 to deliver the first of its findings. More>
The National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP) is launching a Federal Resource Management and Ecosystem Services Guidebook to more than 500 ecosystem services stakeholders at the A Community on Ecosystem Services conference in Washington, DC on December 8-12. With the collaboration of NCEAS and National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) researchers, the guidebook was developed to fulfill the need for "common, reliable approaches to incorporate ecosystem services concepts into natural resource management, planning, and decision making." More >
At the midpoint of the four-year project, the Ocean Tipping Points (OTP) collaboration presented its initial findings in five scientific papers. The first two studies analyze the factors that drive differences in the state of the ecosystem and the three additional studies were published today in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions B entitled “Marine regime shifts around the globe: Theory, drivers and impacts." More>
With approximately 200 undergraduate students in biology and environmental science courses from a network of universities, the NCEAS Working Group, Toads, roads, and nodes: Collaborative course-based research on the landscape ecology of amphibian populations, examined the effects of landscape structure and road disturbance on the distribution and richness of pond-breeding frogs and toads across the central and eastern U.S. They compiled data from the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP), a database of amphibian occupancy collected by citizen scientists. The research results demonstrate that road disturbance has a broad influence on the spatial distribution and local diversity of anurans in the eastern and central U.S. More>
On November 9, 2014 NCEAS Director Frank Davis and Director of Computing Mark Schildhauer hosted a delegation from Korea's new National Institute of Ecology (NIE). The NIE delegation included Associate Professor Yikweon Jang from the Ewha Woman's University, the NIE Ecosystem Assessment Team manager Jong-Hak Yun, and NIE research scientist Jaeho Lee.
The NIE researchers met with NCEAS to discuss prospects for building a new synthesis center within the NIE, based on the model and success of NCEAS. More>
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 >