Eusocial honey bee colonies (Apis mellifera) are perennial social insects easily managed and moved by beekeepers and researchers. Honey bees routinely fly 1-3 Km from their nests foraging for nectar and pollen from native and introduced flowering plants in the Sonorandesert. Annually, these bees collect pollen from 20-25% of the available flora (Buchmann, 1991) which may total from 25 to 50 or more kilograms of honey (condensed floral nectars), along with up to 20 kilograms of pollen. As central place foragers, all these materials are brought back to one location, the bees’ nest.
For the sake of all the benefits that biodiversity offers to society—renewable natural resources, ecosystem services, and natural and cultural heritage—we are in urgent need of tools to forecast and communicate the response of biodiversity to climate change and other human-induced global changes. A central goal of biodiversity science and global change biology is to accurately predict the effects of global change on as many species and ecosystem services as possible. However, we face a fundamental trade-off between modeling few species in detail vs. many species superficially.
The Institute of the Environment's Faculty Exploratory Research Grants program awards three annual grants of up to $10,000 on a competitive basis, for projects involving interdisciplinary global change research or other related research activity. The program is also designed to help foster the development of one or more major interdisciplinary proposals for submission to external funding agencies or private contributors.
View award recipients here.
The recent removal of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington is providing native fish species, including Chinook salmon, with a rare opportunity to return to a river after nearly a century. In addition to the newly accessible habitat for fish, the dam removal has opened five more miles of recreational boating and fishing opportunities, raising concern about impacts on salmon recolonization and proliferation.
Accelerating climate change may interact with severe disturbances such as wildfire to trigger rapid and irreversible ecosystem change at large landscape scales. Such transitions pose serious threats to ecosystem integrity and resilience and profound challenges to ecosystem management in the Southwest and beyond.
In Australasia, the region that comprises Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and neighboring islands in the Pacific Ocean, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Australasian monsoon play a key role in regional climate variability, particularly droughts and floods. As in most of the tropics, local instrumental records of climate change are short and rare, which impedes understanding of how local climate varies and responds to these large-scale drivers. Uniquely, however, northern Australia has tremendous potential for multi-century paleoclimatic reconstruction based on an extensive collection of long coral cores housed at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). These cores reveal the biological response of coral growth to rapidly changing ocean conditions.
Water, Soil, and Air: Understanding Life in a Life-sized Landscape
It’s the world’s largest artificial watershed, and after a few good douses of rainfall here and a bit of drought there, Biosphere 2’s Landscape Observation Laboratory (LEO) is helping us understand how ecosystems will respond to climate change.