Navigation Links
Protecting ecosystems, pollution remediation goals of research at UH
Date:3/7/2011

HOUSTON, March 7, 2011 Cleaning up pollution, protecting soil from erosion and maintaining species-rich ecosystems are some of the goals of a computational ecology project by a University of Houston (UH) scientist and his team. Published recently in a top journal, the work sheds light on a new method to speed up research in the ecology of plants.

Marc Garbey, a professor of computer science and mathematics at UH, and his fellow researchers describe these findings in a paper titled "Large scale parameter study of an individual-based model of clonal plant with volunteer computing," appearing in a recent issue of Ecological Modelling. The journal covers the use of mathematical models and systems analysis in ecological processes and sustainable resource management.

"Most plant communities outside of forests are dominated by clonal plants, which are basically genetic clones of one another," Garbey said. "These plants are able to colonize space by vegetative reproduction, and the clonal plant communities such as grasslands are of tremendous importance to humanity."

Underscoring their importance, Garbey says that prairies are used for raising cattle and may support biodiversity, as well as play an important role in regulating carbon emissions. These ecological functions will be increasingly important in the future framework of global change. Ecologists wish to better understand how clonal plant arrangements may have an effect on these functions. That's where Garbey's talents as a computational scientist come in.

His team's research looks at the interactions between plants and their dynamics, using a "virtual prairie" that involves trying to understand clonal strategies in complex ecological systems. His main collaborator is his daughter, Cendrine Mony, an assistant professor in ecology at the University of Rennes in France, and they published their first paper together on this topic five years ago. While Mony and her collaborators provide expertise in the ecology of plants, Garbey's group provides capabilities in computational science.

"We grow plants virtually, mimicking nature to try to get the fundamental mechanism of how a community changes in time and space, by comparing our computer simulation with a special series of live experiments done in France," Garbey said. "Once the model works, we manipulate the plant growth in our computers simulating a series of 'bad' scenarios, such as lack of water and nutrients, intensive grazing or mowing and adding virtual pollution. Our computer simulations dramatically increase our capability to test various scenarios or ideas."

Using this method, the researchers would ultimately be able to design the ideal prairies by combining the right species that would offer a variety of ecological benefits. Among these benefits are creating prairies able to clean up nitrate pollution so that it does not go back into the water system, providing stability where vulnerable species can coexist and preventing erosion by repairing the ground.

In addition to the various field experiments, a crucial element in this research is the thousands of volunteers around the world who donate time and space on their computers. To carry out these time- and space-intensive computer simulations efficiently, Garbey and his collaborators relied on their virtual prairie program's more than 10,000 volunteers in 90 countries. This is an arrangement where people volunteer to provide computing resources on their personal PCs for information processing, problem solving and storage of the researchers' work. The virtual prairie project extensively uses the open-source software computing platform of David Anderson, a professor in the University of California, Berkeley's space sciences laboratory and adjunct professor in the computer science department at UH.

Beyond the help that it provides Garbey's project, benefits of volunteer computing include encouraging public interest in science and providing the public with a voice in determining the directions of scientific research. While volunteers are typically members of the general public who own Internet-connected PCs, organizations such as schools and businesses also may volunteer the use of their computers.

"Ecology of plants is important for us, as well as the next generation, and large-scale computer simulation with virtual prairies is going to change the way we do research and drive experiments," Garbey said. "It is a wonderful concept to engage volunteers all around the world in this new kind of science and also may be used to improve other types of ecosystems in the future."


'/>"/>

Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Montana State University paleontologist receives major award for protecting fossils on federal land
2. Back off, Rudolph: Protecting this years Christmas tree crop
3. Researchers discover novel mechanism protecting plants against freezing
4. Researchers: EPA should recognize environmental impact of protecting foreign oil
5. Vidient SmartCatch Protecting Exit Lanes at Major UK Airport
6. Protecting the future: How plant stem cells guard against genetic damage
7. Protecting humans and animals from diseases in wildlife
8. Strategy outlined for growing bioenergy while protecting wildlife
9. Protecting cells from their neighbors
10. Protecting the food crops of the future
11. Protecting fresh-cut produce
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Protecting ecosystems, pollution remediation goals of research at UH
(Date:4/28/2016)... -- First quarter 2016:   , Revenues ... first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% ... and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per ... from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook ... 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016 Research ... Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market is ... during the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis ... can be used to compute factors that are ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... BOCA RATON, Florida , March 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect ... Synthetic DNA in ink used in a variety of ... preventing theft. Buyers of originally created collectibles from athletes ... authenticity through forensic analysis of the DNA. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... Nashville Fertility ... laboratories. A contingency of reproductive endocrinologists, including Dr. George Hill at ... and to help them build families. , Ovation Fertility is a nationwide network ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 , ... StarNet Communications ... today announced the addition of three Secure Remote Desktop modules to its flagship X-Win32 ... desktops from Linux and Unix servers to the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. , ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Proove ... excited to announce the launch of the Proove Health Foundation . The ... education to promote the use of personalized medicine for tackling the nation’s most-pressing ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... Denver, CO (PRWEB) , ... April 29, 2016 ... ... on addressing the necessary fundamentals to transform technology into a viable company, CereScan’s ... enable growth. Mr. Kelley, a recognized leader and mentor in the Denver ...
Breaking Biology Technology: