2013 Working Groups/Seed Funds

Developing Yorta Yorta Place Engagement through Digital Technologies

INVESTIGATORS:  Amanda H. Lynch, Director, Environmental Change Initiative; Professor, Department of Geological Sciences  

DESCRIPTION: Support for a collaborative meeting between representatives of the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation (YYNAC), the Watershed Professionals Network (WPN), Brown University, the World Bank and the Smithsonian Institution is sought to advance a business plan to develop digital technologies for the operationalization of space based data bases developing in collaboration between YYNAC, Brown, and Monash University.

Communications and Socio-Environmental Drivers of Disease Outbreaks

INVESTIGATORS: Sohini Ramachandran (EEB, CCMB), Cici Bauer (PH Biostatistics), Jack Mustard (GS, ECI), Jung-Eun Lee (GS, ECI), and Lynn Carlson (GS)

DESCRIPTION:Understanding the factors that allow local outbreaks of infectious disease to become international threats is a critical challenge for global health. Meeting this challenge requires simultaneous study of the socio-environmental forces that drive outbreaks and the communications landscape that influences how quickly they are reported. We are a team of faculty from EEB, Geological Sciences, Public Health and UND poised to meet this challenge with interdisciplinary rigor and a new database of >12,000 human infectious disease outbreaks. Here, we summarize research we will propose to the NSF-NIH Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease program in November. We seek ECI support to develop new preliminary data that will strengthen our specific aims #1-3. Beyond the NSF-NIH proposal we will continue ECI supported research through June. Our work will lead to additional funding proposals, publications, training, and the longer-term union of a new research group focused on health and the environment.

Atmospheric ammonia concentrations associated with chicken grazing at a permaculture farm

 INVESTIGATORS: Rebecca Ryals, Voss Postdoc, Brown University Environmental Change Initiative: Meredith Hastings, Assistant Professor, Brown University Environmental Change Initiative Geological Sciences; Jim Tang, Assistant Scientist, Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystems Center; Jim Galloway, Sidman P. Poole Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Department of Environmental Sciences; Zach Miller, Farmer, Timbercreek Organics

DESCRIPTION: Ammonia is a gaseous pollutant that adversely affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems through acidification and eutrophication. Agriculture, in particular livestock production, is the primary source of ammonia, but the amount of ammonia loss from agricultural fields and livestock production is not well studied. We propose to employ a state of the art method to determine ammonia concentrations as a function of land use, in this case pasture-raised chickens. We will measure ammonia concentrations above pastures along a gradient of chicken grazing, from ungrazed to actively grazed to previously grazed areas of the farm. The results from this research will provide not only provide critical information for ongoing work at this site aimed at understanding the fate of chicken manure nitrogen to reactive pools in the environment and will provide an important component of the whole-farm nitrogen budget, but will also set the stage for future projects.

Establishing a Background Level of Variability of Abyssal Waters with Implications for Assessing Present and Future Warming

INVESTIGATORS: Baylor Fox-Kemper, Geological Sciences; with Timothy D. Herbert and Samantha Bova

DESCRIPTION: The research proposed here is an prototype assessment of abyssal variability on timescales from decades to centuries using the variance derived from the scatter of stable isotope analysis (18O and 13C) of individual benthic foraminifers as a proxy for the benthic climate variability within a core section. The average over the section may act a proxy for the mean temperature over that same era. The goals of the research are assessing the background levels of abyssal heat content variability, as a check on recent claims about rapid warming of these very old watermasses under climate change. This research will provide insight into an area of active contentious research, foster interdisciplinary cooperation, and provide a new dataset useful for assessing climate model and reanalysis variability.