Research Projects

Out lab applies trait-based approaches across ecosystems to understand community assembly, coexistence, resilience and ecosystem function in the face of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance.

Investigating Interactions between Climate and Disturbance

Helicopters drop water over the Museum Fire. Photo: Tyler Annetts

In 2019, 2000 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest burned just north of NAU. Beginning in 2020, we will establish warming chambers across this burn. This mixed-severity fire provides a unique opportunity to investigate the impacts of climate change on trait-based community assembly and ecosystem function across a burn gradient.

Vegetation Dynamics in Arid Ecosystems

A panoramic view of the House Rock Valley. Photo: Tyler Annets

Arid grasslands of the southwestern USA have experienced a number of perturbations over the last century, including high-intensity grazing, ongoing low-intensity grazing, drought, increased aridity, and plant species introductions which have fundamentally altered ecosystem processes (e.g., fire return intervals) Our group is studying the impacts of these changes on arid grassland biodiversity leveraging rangeland ecosystems across the state of Arizona.

The Role of Intraspecific Variation for Resiliency

Common garden located on New Mexico Land Conservancy lands outside of Sante Fe, NM. Photo: Ella Samuel

Variation in key plant traits can vary substantially between populations of the same species. This variation may contribute to species establishment, growth, and survival, and the production of key ecosystem services and functions under changing and less predictable conditions. We are quantifying variability in seed and plant traits in key restoration and native forage grass species to understand how we might better leverage this variation to bolster revegetation and restoration outcomes, as well as seed-collection and seed-increase efforts.

The Nutrient Network (NutNet)

Ethan Taber collects data at our NutNet Site, 2019.

We have been long-time members of the Nutrient Network, helping to establish and monitor some of the original plots in Washington State. In 2018, we established the first set of NutNet plots in Arizona.

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