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October and November were busy research months. Check out some of our recent research awards and grants:

SCC-RCN: Smart Civic Engagement in Rapidly Urbanizing Regions

The Research Coordination Networks (RCN) will collaboratively explore whether multi-user, web-based “serious” games––using real data and scientific models to show the connectedness of locations––could increase equitable participation in local decision-making, elevating the voices of underprivileged groups and diverse perspectives. The RCN will unite researchers and stakeholders to plan the design of a futuristic game called TomorrowNow, which enables people to interact with spatially explicit models of urbanization and associated changes to stormwater hydrology (quantity) and biogeochemistry (quality), problems of increasing concern across urbanizing regions in the U.S.

Regional adaptability and quality of Turkish and Trojan firs

The work will leverage efforts of the Collaborative Fir Germplasm Evaluation (CoFirGE) Project that in 2013 established replicated genetic plantings of Turkish and Trojan fir in Connecticut, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. These plantings were established in these Christmas tree production regions in the U.S. and Denmark to identify regionally adapted sources of Turkish and Trojan fir that also produce superior Christmas trees. The CoFirGE Project represents a collaborative effort involving the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Michigan State University, NC State University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Copenhagen and Washington State University.

Funding will support the collection of seed from Turkish and Trojan fir stands in Turkey in 2010 and the production of seedlings from these and proven sources of balsam, Fraser, grand, Korean, noble and white fir was provided by the Connecticut Christmas Tree Growers Association, Danish Christmas Tree Growers Association, Michigan Christmas Tree Association, North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association, and Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association. Each of the replicated plantings includes progeny from 60 Turkish fir (3 provenances) and 40 Trojan fir (2 provenances) trees and seedlings from proven Christmas tree sources of balsam, Fraser, grand, Korean, noble, Nordmann (3 provenances and 2 Danish seed orchards) and white fir. The two North Carolina plantings are at the NCDA&CS Upper Mountain and Mountain Research Stations.

During this project we will collect growth and quality data from trees in the two NC CoFirGE studies prior to 2017 tree growth. Parameters measured will include total height and state of bud break. Data loggers will be installed at each site to record ambient temperatures and the temperature data will be used to calculate the growing degree days associated with bud break during subsequent years. This information will provide information on genetic variation in the time of bud break, which is helpful in assessing the potential risk of damage from late spring frosts as well as determining how uniformly trees from a given source break buds.

Understanding the Potential for a Climate Change-Driven Critical Transition from Forest to Chaparral

The Klamath Ecoregion of Oregon and California is an ideal model system for studying non-linear ecosystem dynamics and for applying this knowledge toward improved science-based ecosystem management. Stabilizing feedbacks between a mixed-severity fire regime and successional dynamics maintain two distinct ecological communities: a high-biomass conifer forest state and a low-biomass shrub-chaparral-hardwood (SCH) state. These feedbacks are closely linked to climate and operate at local and landscape scales to affect regional scale biome distributions. The goal of the proposed research is to understand if anticipated changes in climate may alter the disturbance-recovery dynamics and force a regional-scale critical transition from mature conifer forest to SCH.

Lake Tahoe West Expanded LANDIS Modeling

This program of work describes anticipated accomplishments and deliverables for initial phase of the third Sierra Nevada Public Lands Management Agency (SNPLMA) Lake Tahoe project. This project extends previous LANDIS-II modeling work done in the Lake Tahoe Basin to include new modeling scenarios, make explicit linkages to the science team, improve fire modeling under climate change and tightly integrate hydrology.

NC Sentinel Landscape Resource Programming

This proposal allows the North Carolina Sentinel Landscape Program Partnership (SLPP) to continue its effort to ensure that readiness, training viability, cost-effective policies, and the US Marine Corps mission are facilitated through sustained use of working lands and natural resources. The SLPP worked for more than six years, providing the programmatic institutionalization and enhancement of compatible natural resource use in support of military readiness and at the same time enhancing the maintenance and improvement of natural resources, including agriculture and forestry lands (i.e., working lands).

The SLPP continues to collaborate on a forward-looking, proactive program to sustain the landscape needed for a healthy economy, a healthy environment, a healthy military, and healthy communities in eastern North Carolina and beyond.  The SLPP also works in the public interest to advance national defense, conservation and working lands in North Carolina simultaneously to ensure that development or use of land, water, and/or air resources remains compatible with military missions. With around 90 percent of the land in North Carolina privately owned, the SLPP realizes that they cannot succeed unless it offers options and incentives that link the interests of the rural, private landowner with the national defense mission and conservation goals.

The Partnership understands that landowners need and deserve to have additional economic opportunities for the good they do to advance society’s long-term well-being by supporting national defense and conservation.

Determining Potential Impact of Elongate Hemlock Scale Shipped on Christmas Trees into Florida

Twenty seedlings of each potential host, and including known hosts of Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) and eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis), will be grown in 1-gallon pots at the NC State greenhouses. Seedlings will be maintained at temperatures comparable to conditions in Florida in December with daytime highs in the seventies and nighttime lows in the fifties during infestation and through the winter.

Mosquito Trapping Bednet

Malaria prevention is mainly based on vector control using insecticides either as indoor residual spraying or the use of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets. The active ingredients of public health insecticides, as recommended by the World Health Organization, come from four classes of insecticides, including pyrethroids, organochlorines, organophosphates and carbamates, with only pyrethroids recommended for bednets. The efficacy of these vector control measures depends primary on the susceptibility of malaria vectors to insecticides.

The strong dependence of vector control on the four families of insecticides and the high use of insecticides in agriculture has led to the emergence and spread of insecticide resistance phenomena in mosquito populations. This constitutes an obstacle to vector control as practiced today. Therefore, if nothing is done, and if insecticide resistance leads to a widespread failure of pyrethroids, then the consequences for public health would be catastrophic and much of the progress achieved so far in reducing the global malaria burden could be reduced to nil.

It is imperative to bring in novel control tools which, while being effective, must mitigate the effects of resistance to insecticides. This could help to restore the effectiveness of the insecticide-based vector control methods. It is also important to diversify the control methods to achieve a much more significant outcome, especially for malaria eradication and elimination. The product we want to develop meets all these different needs.

Spatial Congruence between Biodiversity and other Ecosystem Services across Scales in a Managed Landscape Mosaic

Rangelands in semi-arid and arid regions represent managed agroecosystems that provide wildlife habitat and multiple ecosystem services. However, these benefits are at risk from environmental change. In particular, shrub encroachment into grasslands is an important issue in many drylands worldwide. The overall goal of our project is to integrate ecological and social science approaches to understand how restoration efforts using shrub removal in the Chihuahuan Desert are affecting biodiversity and other ecosystem services across spatial and temporal scales. Such knowledge is needed to inform adaptive management by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management that are attempting to produce resilient and sustainable landscapes. Managers need to know not only how much land to treat (including what would be too much), but also where treatments should be placed. Our overall hypothesis is that emergent properties at the landscape level will strongly determine the nature of and congruency of ecosystem services.

This proposal will examine whether restoration efforts that remove shrubs are able to restore and retain ecosystem services over multiple spatial and temporal scales in the Chihuahuan Desert. Our research project has a set of interrelated specific objectives designed to meet our overall goal: (1) Determine how restoration efforts are affecting multiple aspects of animal diversity including songbirds, lizards, a keystone rodent, and scaled quail, a declining game bird. (2) Evaluate how these wildlife responses depend on landscape mosaic effects and time since treatment. (3) Determine responses of plant diversity to shrub removal. (4) Quantify how primary production and carrying capacity for livestock are affected by restoration treatments. (5) Determine whether reintroduction of a keystone species changes the pace of restoration trajectories and affects ecosystem services including primary production and livestock productivity. (6) Assess stakeholder interpretations of management success, and contrast perceptions among groups regarding ecosystem services being delivered from restored landscapes. (7) Integrate biodiversity, supporting services, provisioning services, and cultural ecosystem services into the assessment of socioecological systems. (8) Transfer knowledge gained about complementarities and trade-offs among biodiversity and other ecosystem services to land management agencies so future treatments can be advantageously placed to maximize benefits from rangelands.

Resilience Inclusion on the Coast: Exploring Sea Level Rise in Diverse Communities on the Albemarle Pamlico Peninsula of North Carolina

Focus groups will be conducted based on the Rural Coastal Community Resilience Framework in at least three minority communities on the Albemarle Pamlico Peninsula. The framework is conceptualized as a series of risk and adaptive capacity indicators that are combined to determine the relative vulnerability or resilience of a community or region. The focus groups will begin with a presentation contextualizing sea level rise, flooding and saltwater intrusion impacts. Then participants will engage in discussions on each pair of indicators before voting (nominal group process) on where they believe their community to lie on that particular spectrum. Focus groups will be audio recorded and transcribed for interpretation using Nvivo software. A pre- and post-survey questionnaire will also be administered to gather quantitative data on risk perceptions to be processed with SPSS version 24. Additionally, semi-structured interviews will be used to engage individual community members to document local histories on the APP, elaborate on individual experiences with sea level rise, flooding, saltwater intrusion impacts and resilience needs. Interviews will be audio recorded and transcribed for thematic analysis using N*Vivo software for data organization.