"Modeling in environmental studies is a way to tie together what we understand about various aspects of the environment so that we can determine how the entire system works," notes Wollheim of the Water Systems Analysis Group within EOS, who will conduct the core modeling to translate measurements in individual stream sections, or "reaches", up to entire river systems and, ultimately, continental scales. "The models I'll work with will help us to better understand how and why ecosystems are changing, given climate variations and various human activities."
Part of the experiment will involve "consumer manipulation" within a measurable section of a stream by taking away or adding animals like aquatic insects or fish to see what effects these animals have on the overall stream processes.
The experiments and modeling results will be relevant to ecology as a whole because few "coupled and nested" experimental and theoretical scaling exercises have been undertaken in any environment. A coupled, nested environment is one that links many smaller parts with a larger whole in this case, the overall flow of water links different stream reaches into a larger river network.
Says Wollheim, "Very few studies have tried to understand processes across these different scales to determine, for example, how does carbon storage measured in individual stream reaches relate to carbon storage of an entire river network?"
Insight into how nature works at this level is necessary to understand both whole-system dynamics as well as to manage human impacts on entire watersheds.
McDowell and Wollheim are among several UNH scientists recently funded by NSF for three of the 14 projects competitively won under its new macrosystems biology program. EOS researchers Jingfeng Xiao and Scott Ollinger, and Steve Frolking were awarded for two add
|Contact: Beth Potier|
University of New Hampshire