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UNH researchers receive NSF grant to 'scale up' stream ecology
Date:10/12/2011

DURHAM, N.H. -- University of New Hampshire scientists have received National Science Foundation (NSF) funding to explore how small-scale ecological experiments can be applied to understand the behavior of entire ecosystems, part of the agency's nascent effort to investigate large-scale biological responses to climate and land-use change.

Professor William McDowell of the department of natural resources and the environment (NREN) and assistant professor Wilfred Wollheim of NREN and UNH's Institute for the Study or Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS) are part of a multi-institution project that will "scale up" measurements of fundamental stream or "lotic" properties, and the effects of aquatic animals on those properties, to predict characteristics of entire stream networks.

For their project, entitled "Stream Consumers and Lotic Ecosystem Rates (SCALER): Scaling from Centimeters to Continents," McDowell is the UNH principal investigator; Wollheim is co-investigator. Researchers at Kansas State University are leading the $3.3 million project, of which $741,000 will support the UNH research.

"This project is looking at how we can scale fundamental processes of stream ecology to a whole-stream scale," says McDowell. "We also want to learn how good our individual site-specific work is at predicting broad patterns across the continent." McDowell will conduct field work in Puerto Rico on a tropical dry forest stream dominated by mullets and freshwater shrimp. He will explore stream metabolism how carbon is produced, consumed and vented into the atmosphere as well as nutrient retention and the effects of predators and herbivores on stream metabolism and nutrient cycling.

Across the North American continent, the SCALER experiment will be carried out in a tropical forest, a temperate mountain forest, a prairie, a northern evergreen forest, and a tundra. Small, medium and large streams in each area will be examined at scales of centimet
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Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert

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