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It is well know that every earthquake can spawn others (e.g., as aftershocks), and that such triggered events can be large and damaging, as recently demonstrated by L’Aquila, Italy and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes. In spite of being an explicit USGS strategic-action priority (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2012/1088; page 32), the USGS currently lacks an automated system with which to forecast such events and official protocols for disseminating the potential implications. This capability, known as Operational Earthquake Forecasting (OEF), could provide valuable situational awareness to emergency managers, the public, and other entities interested in preparing for potentially damaging earthquakes. With the various...
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Midwest MAPS Stations that operated 4 or more years between 1992 and 2008. Stations are classified by three categories of ability to effectively monitor priority species of continental concern and whether they were active in 2011. High Medium Total number of Species Captured >=15 >=10 Mean Capture Rate of Priority Species >=0.5 >=0.4 Total Number of Priority Species >=8 >=6 Percentage of Priority Species >=20 >=10 Other stations may be directed at restoration or single species MAPS Website
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Advancing our mechanistic understanding of ecosystem responses to climate change is critical to improve ecological theories, develop predictive models to simulate ecosystem processes, and inform sound policies to manage ecosystems and human activities. Manipulation of temperature in the field, or the “ecosystem warming experiment,” has proved to be a powerful tool to understand ecosystem responses to changes in temperature. No comprehensive synthesis has been conducted since the last one more than 10 years ago. A new synthetic analysis is critically needed to advance our understanding of ecosystem responses to warming, to highlight experimental artifacts and appropriate interpretations, and to guide development...
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Tropical forests contain > 50% of the world’s known species (Heywood 1995), 55% of global forest biomass (Pan et al. 2011), and exchange more carbon (C), water and energy with the atmosphere than any other ecosystem type (e.g., Saugier et al. 2001). Despite their importance, there is more uncertainty associated with predictions of how tropical forests will respond to warming than for any other biome (Randerson et al. 2009). This uncertainty is of global concern due to the large quantity of C cycled by these forests and the high potential for biodiversity loss. Given the importance of tropical forests, decision makers and land managers around the globe need increased predictive capacity regarding how tropical forests...
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Global biodiversity is rapidly declining, threatening humans, ecosystems, and the services that society relies upon. Monitoring and understanding the extent of biodiversity declines can support policy decisions. Genetic diversity is the foundation of biodiversity, determining the capacity of populations to adapt to environmental changes and to sustain function and structure in all ecosystems. While the availability of genetic diversity data has exponentially increased in the past decade, genetic data have been poorly mobilized to understand biodiversity change at large scales; consequently, there is limited integration into management and policy. To solve this challenge, large-scale synthesis of genetic diversity...
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Amphibian populations are declining globally at unprecedented rates but statistically rigorous identification of mechanisms is lacking. Identification of reasons underlying large-scale declines is imperative to plan and implement effective conservation efforts. Most research on amphibian population decline has focused on local populations and local factors. However, the ubiquity of declines across species and landscapes suggests that causal factors at a broader scale are also important. Elucidation of the mechanisms driving population change has lagged, mainly because data have been unavailable at continental scales. We propose to address this need by assembling data to answer questions about broad-scale drivers...
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Global hydroclimatic conditions have been significantly altered, over the past century, by anthropogenic influences that arise from warming global climate and also from local/regional anthropogenic disturbances. There has been never been an effort that has systematically analyzed how the spatio-temporal variability of land-surface fluxes vary in natural and human-altered watersheds globally. This synthesis study will adapt and extend the classical Budyko framework to quantify the role of drivers - changing climate and local human disturbances - in altering flow regimes and in creating urban heat island episodes over the globe. An allied goal is to develop parsimonious hydroclimatic models that explain the spatio-temporal...
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Non-native insect invasions increasingly cause widespread ecological and economic damage in natural and agricultural ecosystems. Non-native insects specialized for feeding on specific plant groups are particularly problematic as they can potentially eliminate an entire genus of native plant species across a wide area. For example, emerald ash borer has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America since its accidental introduction from Asia, including more than 99% of all trees in forests near the epicenter of the invasion. However, most introduced insects do not become high-impact pests. Our goal is to develop a framework that allows us to predict whether non-native herbivorous insects in natural ecosystems...
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Midwest MAPS Stations that operated 4 or more years between 1992 and 2008. Stations are classified by the number of years operated MAPS Website
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Midwest MAPS Stations that operated 4 or more years between 1992 and 2008. Stations are classified by three categories of ability to effectively monitor species of continental concern. High Medium Total number of Species Captured >=15 >=10 Mean Capture Rate of Priority Species >=0.5 >=0.4 Total Number of Priority Species >=8 >=6 Percentage of Priority Species >=20 >=10 Other stations may be directed at restoration or single species MAPS Website
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Increasing wildfire activity in much of North America is having severe impacts on society and ecosystems. Climate change is a key driver of changing fire regimes across North America, with varying expressions across the continent. Modern fire records, while useful, are too short to fully characterize the complex patterns and non-linear dynamics of fire-climate relationships that are required to understand future fire activity in a warmer climate. Tree-ring fire scars offer a unique perspective because they are spatially precise, direct evidence of fires with annual to sub-annual resolution spanning centuries. For the first time, we have compiled tree-ring fire scar records across North America (n = 2,593 sites,...
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Understanding invasive plant impacts can provide insight into community assembly and inform the development of successful management strategies. The impacts of invasive species depend on how they alter patterns of abundance within recipient communities and on the characteristics of the invaders and the affected species. Research has suggested that common species may be more impacted by invasions, and that similarity between native and invasive species underlies impact. To assess large-scale patterns of invasive plant impact, we are bringing together plant community data from 75,000 plots across natural areas of the U.S. with information on plant functional traits and evolutionary history. Functional traits are characteristics...
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Plants convert carbon dioxide into sugars for food during photosynthesis, and this provides food for all animal life. However, photosynthesis is inhibited when a plant’s enzymes use oxygen instead of carbon dioxide. To avoid this use of oxygen, some plants developed a photosynthetic adaptation – called C4 photosynthesis – to concentrate carbon dioxide around the enzymes. While less than 5% of plants use the C4 photosynthetic pathway, they make up ~20% of global terrestrial gross primary productivity. Due to their high productivity, C4 plants have a profound impact on ecosystems, economies, the carbon cycle, and our climate. Corn and sugarcane are both C4 plants, as are foundational western livestock and wildlife...
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The past decade has seen improvements in computational efficiency, seismic data coverage, and communication technology - driven by societal expectation for timely, accurate information. While aspects of earthquake research have taken advantage of this evolution, the adoption of improvements in earthquake monitoring has not been fully leveraged. In real-time monitoring, earthquakes are characterized in a vacuum, without building upon our knowledge of past events. New data types may help characterize earthquakes more quickly and accurately. New opportunities exist for rapidly communicating information. With these advances, global seismic monitoring can improve the quality and timeliness of information shared with...
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Nitrogen deposition is altering forest dynamics, terrestrial carbon storage, and biodiversity. However, our ability to forecast how different tree species will respond to N deposition, especially key response thresholds, is limited by a lack of synthesis across spatial scales and research approaches. To develop our best understanding of N deposition impact on tree growth and survival, we will integrate plot-­‐ level studies describing plant growth and survival responses to N inputs and plant-­‐ available soil nutrients with a continental scale analysis across a N deposition gradient. Our primary outcome will be estimates of tree response to N deposition with explicit representation of uncertainty and the identification...
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Models that predict the flow of rivers and streams are critically important for planning flood control, hydropower, and reservoir operations, as well as for management of fish and wildlife populations. As temperatures and precipitation regimes change globally, the need to improve and develop these models for a wider spatial coverage and higher spatial fidelity becomes more imperative. Currently, one of the biggest impediments to developing robust streamflow knowledge is incomplete understanding of the range of timescales over which water is stored (e.g., in snowpack, soils, and groundwater) in watersheds, as well as the processes and factors that control those storage timescales. This working group will address...
Wind energy is poised for rapid growth over the next 2-3 decades yet fatalities to birds and bats is a leading concern that may constrain wind energy development in the US. This working group will integrate wind energy forecasting models with bat ecological models and management policy considerations to transform our ability to understand and manage renewable energy development while minimizing unintended consequences to wildlife and habitat. The key activities include: 1. Simulate tiered wind energy deployment constraints representing impact mitigation to assess effects to both species’ habitat and wind energy development; 2. integrate wind energy forecast simulations and bat demographic models to elucidate the...
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Sea-level rise and storms cause major changes on coastal landscapes, including shifts in elevation, ecosystem type (for example, dunes and tidal wetlands), soils, and plant communities. Because these changes can have impacts on human communities, the local economy, and ecosystems, understanding how, when, and why these changes occur can be important for informing policy and natural resource management decisions. However, much is still unknown in our understanding of and ability to forecast coastal landscape change, and many current modeling approaches do not include important feedbacks between the physical landscape and the species inhabiting it. Examples of these types of feedbacks include the rapid development...
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Despite the proven efficacy of geothermal energy as a city-scale heating and cooling resource, the relative newness of most city-scale applications using diverse technologies has resulted in limited widespread adoption. We aim to develop authoritative information suitable for city-managers and other decision-makers. Geothermal resources are ubiquitous and diverse, with technologies available both for harvesting ambient heat or for storing thermal energy. These local low-carbon, baseload energy sources provide resilience, security, and jobs. The project team proposes to accelerate understanding and possibly energy-solution adoption by developing an international systematic nomenclature to describe the range of...
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Fresh water is arguably the most valuable resource on the planet, but human activities threaten freshwater ecosystems. For example, use of synthetic chemicals, such as pesticides, road salts, and nutrients, has led to the ubiquitous contamination of aquatic systems, jeopardizing the integrity of ecological communities. Given the importance biodiversity plays in maintaining ecosystem health and function and the continued decline of freshwater species, it is vital to understand the direct, indirect, and lasting effects of synthetic contaminants on biota in freshwater systems. The majority of our knowledge regarding contaminant effects is comprised of short-term, single-contaminant laboratory toxicity tests that describe...


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