Current Research on Global Change and Biodiversity


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Fens

Fens are biologically diverse wetlands fed by cold groundwater that may buffer these ecosystems from climate change. Cold groundwater discharge is the principal driver for the persistence of disjunct boreal and alpine plant species in temperate zone fens. In addition to relict boreal populations, fens in the northeastern U.S. support disproportionate numbers of rare plant and animal species, some of which likely are vulnerable to changes in climate. Considerable financial resources have been utilized to prioritize areas and species of high conservation concern in fens; however, limited resources have been allocated to evaluate the susceptibility of these ecosystems to climate Read more about this research…


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Calcium, snails, and songbirds

The Adirondack Mountains have experienced decades of acidic deposition, which has left soils deficient in important nutrients, especially calcium. We are investigating bird abundance and diversity patterns along a calcium gradient as part of a larger effort investigating plant, amphibian, invertebrate, and bird populations to determine if locations with high soil calcium levels appear to be more resistant to acidification and support higher biodiversity. The results may guide conservation policy by prioritizing highly buffered sites as refugia within the Adirondacks that retain potential for long-term acidification resistance and recovery. Project: Effects of Acidic Deposition on Songbird Abundance and Diversity Location: Adirondack Read more about this research…


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Wind Power Generation Impacts on Birds and Bats

With the climatic and sociopolitical consequences of fossil fuel use becoming increasingly apparent, the nation is rapidly turning to alternative means of electricity generation such as wind “farms”. Wind power facilities produce neither toxic byproducts nor greenhouse gas emissions, yet many conservationists are concerned that wind turbines may pose a severe risk to aerial vertebrates in some cases. Remote sensing techniques (e.g., acoustic detection, radar and thermal imaging) provide information on the relative abundance of aerial vertebrates that are active in the atmosphere at altitudes that put them at risk of encountering wind turbines. Project Title: Assessing Radar and Acoustic Read more about this research…


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Paramo Plant Communities and Climate Change

Global climate change represents one of the most important current threats to biodiversity, and understanding its impacts has become especially important for biodiversity hotspots such as high-altitude grasslands in the Andes (páramos). These ecosystems contain high levels of biodiversity and endemism, and are extremely sensitive to changes in climatic conditions. In addition, páramos provide as much as 90-100% of the freshwater used in the lowlands. Project Title: Effects of changing climatic conditions on plant communities of the páramos, tropical high mountain ecosystems of Colombia Summary: This research seeks to give continuity to previous research and long-term monitoring activities developed in Los Read more about this research…


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Appalachian Trail Forest Communities

Airborne industrial pollution returns to earth in the form of acid deposition, a phenomenon that has lasting effects on remote landscapes. The Appalachian Mountains are particularly susceptible to this pollution, in part because of their thin soils (which are easily acidified) and because of their geography (high elevation and location downwind of pollution sources). Project Title: High elevation forest communities along acid deposition, soil, and climate gradients of the Appalachian Trail Summary: To conserve the natural resources and heritage of this landscape, this project aims to understand the impact acidification has on high elevation Appalachian forest communities. The central hypotheses Read more about this research…