To address environmental issues, society needs a deeper understanding of the natural world, and the ways we can regulate our own behavior.
Faculty and students at F&ES conduct research in eight broadly conceived areas of environmental concern – biodiversity, forestry, global climate, industry, law and economics, urban systems, water, and social ecology. The scope of these programs reflects not just the complexity of human interaction with the environment, but the fact that the easy answers have been exhausted. As such, it is the mission of the F&ES faculty and students to conduct research that uncovers new knowledge, unique insights, and approaches that tie many fields together. This mission is further carried out by communicating the results of this research to the widest possible audience through publication, lectures, and other educational programs.

F&ES Research Funding

New Project Funding: Liza Comita

CAREER: Drivers of tropical tree seedling dynamics and species coexistence along environmental gradients

PI: Liza Comita 
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $619,999

Overview: Tropical forests harbor the majority of the Earth's terrestrial diversity and provide valuable ecosystem services. Assessing the mechanisms that promote tropical tree species coexistence is essential not only for understanding how high diversity is maintained, but also for predicting the future composition and diversity of tropical forests in the face of multiple threats, including changes in precipitation resulting from global climate change. Processes acting on early life stages are thought to play a crucial role in shaping tropical tree communities. In particular, abiotic variables and biotic interactions that drive spatial and temporal patterns of seedling survival are thought to play a major role in maintaining tree species diversity and likely also shape the response of tropical forests to shifts in precipitation patterns. This project will take advantage of a strong rainfall gradient in central Panama to investigate how abiotic (i.e. light, soil moisture, and nutrients) and biotic (i.e. density and identity of neighboring plants) drivers of seedling performance shift along a climatic gradient. To assess the relative contribution of these drivers to tree species coexistence over multiple generations, the project includes the development of novel forest simulation models parameterized with new and existing empirical data. In keeping with the objectives of the CAREER program, the overarching goal of the project is to link the PI's research on tropical forest ecology with educational activities to produce an integrated program over the next five years that will produce novel insights into tropical forest diversity while training the next generation of environmental leaders to deal with the mounting environmental challenges in the tropics. 

Intellectual Merit: The objectives of the proposed research are to (1) determine the key abiotic and biotic drivers of tropical tree seedling performance, and assess how the relative importance of those drivers varies along a strong rainfall gradient, (2) link data on plant functional traits to species responses to environmental variables within sites and determine how local environment-trait relationships shift along the rainfall gradient, and (3) develop novel forest simulation models, parameterized with field data, to assess the relative importance and combined influence of abiotic factors and biotic interactions on tropical tree species diversity. The project proposed here will build upon the PI's previous and ongoing work through the synthesis of new and existing data sets and the development of new simulation models. This integration of data and models has the potential to provide transformative results that will significantly advance understanding of the key mechanisms shaping tropical tree communities and will provide a framework for predicting changes in tropical forest diversity and species composition in response to shifts in climate. 

Broader Impacts: The education component of this CAREER project includes development of three courses: (1) an interactive, interdisciplinary lecture course on tropical forest ecology and conservation, (2) a tropical field ecology course that provides students with hands-on research experience in an international context, and (3) a graduate seminar focused on analysis of data collected through this project. These courses will be designed for diverse professional Masters students that are likely to become influential environmental leaders and decision makers at local, national and international levels. In addition, the PI will contribute taped video lectures for use in an online training program for current environmental decision makers in the tropics. The project will also provide training and research experience for two postdoctoral scholars and six Panamanian field assistants, as well as multiple opportunities for student research. Demographic and trait data from the project will be made openly available and will be useful for species selection for forest restoration, carbon storage, and plantation forestry. In addition, the project will maintain a highly trained and experienced team of field assistants, whose botanical identification and forest inventory skills benefit other projects in the area. Finally, the PI will continue to promote retention of women in science as a faculty mentor to postdoctoral researchers through the Women in Science at Yale program.

New Project Funding: Thomas Graedel/Barbara Reck

Critical Materials Institute: Project 4.3.14; Criticality, Life Cycles, Material Flow and Scenarios 

PI: Thomas Graedel, Co-PI Barbara Reck
Sponsor: Colorado School of Mines (Ames Laboratory/DOE) $300,000

This is Phase II of a 10-Year project.  In Phase II, Year 6 refers to the period August 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.  Year 7 refers to the period July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2010. 

Tasks and Deliverables
Year 6, First Quarter:
 1. Begin the development of a US-level material flow analysis for indium for year 2016. 
Year 6, Second Quarter:
 2. Tentatively establish the contemporary US-level material flow cycle for indium in 2016 conducting a national material flow study.
 3. Assemble trade data for US lithium flows 4. Draft contemporary US-level material flow cycle for indium in 2016
Year 6, Third Quarter:
 5. Create the initial US-level scenario analysis for indium for year 2016 
Year 6, Fourth Quarter:
 6. Complete a collaborative CMI scenario study for indium
Year 7:
 7. Demonstrate the capacity to perform additional collaborative scenario studies with one or more CMI partners.

New Project Funding: Adam Roddy/Craig Brodersen

RoL: FELS: EAGER: Simple scaling rules that define how genome size constrains metabolism: a test among photosynthetic   
PI: Adam Roddy, Co-PI Craig Brodersen 
Sponsor: San Francisco State University (Prime:  National Science Foundation) $143,073

General description of actions: Through the efforts of co-PIs Roddy and Brodersen, Yale University will provide trait and physiological measurements associated with Objective 1.  The data collected at Yale will be combined with those collected at SFSU for subsequent analysis and writing.  

Detailed work requirements: In coordination with PI Simonin, Yale will (1) acquire seeds from public sources, (2) cultivate the plants, and (3) perform anatomical and physiological measurements on these plants.  In trips to San Francisco/Berkeley in Years 1 and 2, co-PI Roddy will lead microCT imaging studies.  This work will span Years 1 and 2 of the project.

Both co-PIs Roddy and Brodersen at Yale will provide data analysis and writing associated with Objective 1.  Through co-PI Roddy, Yale will also provide data analysis associated with Objective 2, and contribute to writing.

Timeline of effort: Periodic project phone meetings and annual trips to San Francisco by co-PI Roddy will be used to track progress.  It is expected that in Year 1, many of the measurements associated with Objective 1 will have already been completed and will be supplemented by data for more species in Year 2.  Effort in Year 1 will be focused primarily on data collection associated with Objective 1.  In Year 2, effort will shift more towards data analysis and writing.

New Project Funding: Thomas Graedel

EAGER: Preparing the Yale Metal Life Cycles Database for Global Distribution

PI: Thomas Graedel
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Supplement $31,455
Summary: We will carry out the design, organization, realization, and reporting on the discussions and plans resulting from a workshop in the Washington, DC area. We anticipate that NSF or, alternatively, USGS or EPA could provide facilities for this event. The goal is to develop a firm concept for establishing and maintaining a publicly accessible database of information on material stocks and flows and, were the participants to support such an idea, to possibly develop a roadmap towards achieving an OPEN STAF Database.

We believe this can be accomplished by holding the workshop and using the resulting workshop report to draw out existing information related to material stocks and flows data, and creating suitable structure and architecture for enabling global access and collaboration on data archiving. We envision that UMIS, the Universal Materials Information System, and the Yale STAF database could serve as foundation for such an archive. However, the workshop may reveal that alternative or combined approaches may be preferable in achieving the overall goal of publicly-available and rationally archived data on material resource stocks and flows.

New Project Funding: Pete Raymond

RoL: FELS: RAISE: Collaborative Research: Watershed Rules of Life

PI: Pete Raymond
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $900,000
Summary: Rivers are the circulatory systems of the continents, and they function as potent reactor sites where terrestrial nutrients, organic matter, and pollutants are removed or transformed during transport from land to ocean. Microbial communities are the engines of these reactors with the capacity to remove or alter important elements (e.g., C, N, P, Hg, As), produce greenhouse gasses (CO2, N2O, CH4) and support food webs. There is a growing body of knowledge that postulates that within drainage networks the microbial engine shifts from the sediments to the water column as you move from small streams to large rivers due to changing physical hydrology and geomorphology. Thus, we argue that the physiological traits that underlie the capacities of planktonic microbes to maintain function in river ecosystems are emergent properties of the dynamic nature of river environments, and that given enough time distinct planktonic microbial communities develop in rivers.

This has important implications for the conceptualization of watersheds as reactors because water column communities have different metabolic efficiencies and capabilities and may experience different disturbance regimes with hydrologic events and major confluences. We propose to determine the “Rules of Life” that govern the establishment of this water column community. Excitingly, we believe these rules can be built off of foundational work in hydrologic scaling and therefore be generalizable. We have proposed a set of hypotheses that builds microbial ecology into the scaffolding of hydrology and geomorphology in order to research our Watershed Rules of Life. We also argue that recent advances in bioinformatics, DNA sequencing technology, drainage network conceptual models, and geospatial data sets, will allow for transformative progress at the intersection between hydrology, ecosystem science, geomorphology, and microbial ecology.

New Project Funding: Justin Farrell

CAREER: The Effect of Energy Transition on Rural America: Innovative Methods to Unravel Large-Scale Cultural, Technological, and Economic Change

PI: Justin Farrell
Sponsor: NSF Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences $400,000
Summary: Despite being largely ignored by scholars, the media, and much of the American public, rural communities have long been the nation's cornerstone for energy production. But, many of these communities are undergoing immense change, led by market forces, environmental pressures, and the improvement of solar and wind technology.

This project contributes new knowledge by examining the rapidly changing relationship between rural areas and energy. These changes are felt in sharpest relief in the Rocky Mountain West, in places like Wyoming that have depended heavily on fossil-fuel energy production. How are rural communities affected by large-scale economic, technological, and cultural shifts away from fossil-fuels toward renewable energy? Moving beyond pure dollars and cents, what do these changes actually mean for the loss of rural culture and community, and how can they best adapt? The findings will expand our understanding of rural, low capital, and underserved areas, especially in the Western U.S., in order to concretely inform policy in a rapidly changing cultural, political, technological, and economic environment.

New Project Funding: Edgar Hertwich

Resource Efficiency For Greenhouse Gas Abatement: A Request from the Group of 7 Proposal for a Thematic Assessment

PI: Edgar Hertwich
Sponsor: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) $106,699

Summary: The United Nations has approached Professor Edgar Hertwich to lead the assessment of the potential of resource efficiency strategies (encapsulated under policy frameworks on Resource Efficiency/Circular Economy/Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/Sustainable Materials Management) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Resource efficiency strategies are here defined as approaches to reduce the demand for materials by means of more efficient use, such as appropriate material choice, design, reuse of products or components (if required, after refurbishment or remanufacturing), and recycling. They will be investigated at the level of individual technology systems, e.g. the reuse of I-beams in the construction of buildings or the recycling of waste electric and electronic equipment.

The objective of this assessment is to highlight synergies between the conservation of material resources and climate change mitigation at a global scale, assessing in particular:

  1. The GHG abatement that can be achieved through the deployment of resource efficiency strategies at different levels of ambition.
  2. The role of low carbon technologies in the implementation of resource efficiency, both with respect to the deployment of resource efficiency in low carbon technologies (e.g., recycling of photovoltaic (PV) systems) and the effect of low-carbon energy on the GHG abatement achievable with a specific strategy

The study will combine a ‘bottom-up’ analysis of identified resource efficiency measures and technologies with upscaling in a counterfactual scenario approach. The calculation of benefits will hence be based on the concept of avoided burden compared to the primary production of resources, but looking at a larger scale instead of individual applications at the unit level. The assessment will consist of following elements:

  1. Categorization of resource efficiency strategies and associated technical measures based on literature review and interviews with policy makers and experts. Development of conceptual framework describing how different concepts (Circular Economy/Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/Sustainable Materials Management) relate to each other, development of a common system definition, and identification of a set of core strategies and which stocks and flows in the system they impact.
  2. Mapping of resource efficiency policies and climate policies and their relationship, including identification of synergies and trade-offs. Experiences with resource efficiency policies in different countries as ascertained through a focus group methodology with regulators and stakeholders.
  3. Dynamic stock-flow models of materials (major metals, cement, plastics, cellulose): study historical and current material use; identify underlying dynamics and driving factors, assess implications for future material availability, determine relationship to parameters covered in external scenarios such as those developed
  4. Description and life cycle assessment of resource efficiency strategies and technologies for major material groups, such as metals, cement, plastics, and cellulose, in key applications, such as buildings and infrastructure, vehicles, and consumer products. LCA data to estimate environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and energy/resource requirements of specific Resource Efficiency strategies and a baseline without these strategies.

New Project Funding: Karen Seto

IFWEN: Understanding Innovative Initiatives for Governing Food, Water and Energy Nexus in Cities

PI: Karen Seto
Sponsor: Joint Belmont Forum /NSF $366,627
  1. Design research framework to assess food-water-energy nexus (FWEN) in case study cities.
  2. Conduct analysis of FWEN for select case studies.
  3. To assess the trade-offs of FWEN and their association with spatial planning and governance in cities.
  4. To understand the barriers that hinder innovative and integrated FWEN approaches to management (IFWEN) at different scales; and specifically look for the common features of diverse projects;
  5. To understand empirically how successful IFWEN happen and approaches used to overcome the barriers that make their implementation more difficult in practice;
  6. To design a framework, best practices and tools to foster IFWEN with better urban interventions and decision-making processes.

New Project Funding: Gabe Benoit

Sediment capture and consequent water quality benefits to Connecticut estuaries

PI: Gabe Benoit
Sponsor: CT Sea Grant College Program $147,759

Summary: Most of the contaminants entering Long Island Sound (LIS) from land must first pass through its many tributary estuaries. Most point sources (e.g., treated sewage) and nonpoint sources (e.g., storm runoff) flow first to rivers and then through estuaries on their way to LIS. We need to better understand processes that occur in estuaries that can greatly influence the amount and timing of contaminant export. There is no single pathway for pollution, but contaminants generally are scavenged by suspended particles which then must pass through estuaries or estuarine harbors on their way to LIS. This proposal is for research to evaluate how the combination of watershed flood flow and tidal flushing controls trapping or export of sediment and associated contaminants (Pb, Hg, Cu, and Cd) at both short and long-time scales.

We propose to investigate a typical Connecticut estuary (West River, New Haven) that is currently free flowing, but which was tidally restricted in years past. We will directly and continuously measure all water and sediment fluxes from the watershed and via tidal exchange with greater detail than probably ever before for systems of this scale. Coupled with key spot measurements of contaminants (metals), we will be able to construct precise budgets for water, sediment, and toxics and relate them to causation by storm flows and variable tidal conditions.

Our main study site is similar to most along the Connecticut coast, and will be compared to another that is currently tide-gated (Mill R, New Haven) in a Before-After-Control-Impact research design that exploits the former gating of the West. We will also take advantage of the self-regulating gates to conduct closure experiments that will help identify how sea level rise might change estuarine functioning.

Estuaries are probably the most complex aquatic systems to investigate because of the complicated way they vary over location and time. Physical conditions change over several lengths of time, from less than a day to full years. Our measurement strategy documents changes at all these timescales. The proposed research combines several techniques that have never before been used simultaneously to investigate an important estuary type. We will evaluate transport of water, sediment, and contaminants with several tools: (i) continuous measurement of the systems’ hydrology and water quality, (ii) analysis of past sediment build up and pollution history (by using Pb and Cs), (iii) evaluation of today’s sediment pollution loading, (iv) use of a naturally occurring radionuclide (7Be) as a tracer for contaminant uptake by sediment, (v) manipulation of the tide gates to conduct short-term experiments, and (vi) comparison to a control site in a Before-After-Control-Impact research design.

Suspended sediments carry most contaminants and, in addition, the nature and abundance of this mud has a substantial direct physical influence on the condition and health of benthic habitats. Accumulation of sediment can have a variety of beneficial and undesirable consequences, from feeding salt marshes and supporting soft bottom benthic habitat, to trapping contaminants and requiring costly and disruptive dredging. There is a need to better predict and control sediments to manage these important ecosystem services and disservices.

New Project Funding: Os Schmitz

The macrophysiology of food chain dynamics

PI: Oswald Schmitz
Sponsor: NSF RAHSS Supplement $8,064

The REU supplement will support two high school juniors to actively engage in scientific research through a mentored experience that teaches them how to set up and executing their own summerlong field experiment. This RAHSS project will leverage the research infrastructure that is already in place and will build on current scientific findings from the funded research to broaden understanding of the implications of environmental warming on species interactions and the functioning of the study ecosystem.

Current work under the auspices of NSF DEB-1354762 is evaluating the resilience of plantbased ecological food chains to climate change. The experimental work is assessing the degree of local adaptation and plasticity in population thermal tolerances and performances using standard physiological measurements relating organismal metabolism to experimentally imposed temperature increases. It is also measuring the interplay between thermal physiology and food chain interactions to understand whether and how the functional role of species populations and their nutrient demands for survival and reproduction might become changed to impact the species composition of the food webs.

Research proposed for the RAHSS project will build expand understanding of how climate warming will affect species and functions not originally proposed. The RAHSS students will be mentored to execute a summer-long field experiment that explicitly tests how the focal study species of the NSF-funded project will interact with species belonging to detrital-based food chains to understand how interactions between plant-based and detritus-based food chains are linked and influenced by environmental warming.

New Project Funding: Mark Bradford

The SG: Understanding local controls on wood decomposition in a regional context.

PI: Mark Bradford
Sponsor: NSF REU Supplement $7,900

The supplement will be used to fund the involvement of one undergraduate student in field and laboratory research involved in the primary award, which the student will use to develop independent research that will also be carried out in the summer of the research experience.

The main award explores a central idea of ecological scaling theory to understand controls on biogeochemical processes. The central idea is that broad-scale patterns of relationships between process rates and controls might be primarily correlative, emerging from distinct, local-scale causative relationships which are masked at broader scales. The proposal explores this possibility for wood decomposition. A critical determinant of the carbon (C) balance of forests is the turnover rate of dead wood. Most C cycle models assume that decomposition rates of dead wood at broad spatial scales are mainly a function of climate. Empirical data show that variation in wood decomposition rates are also determined by the composition of woody debris (e.g. traits such as lignin:N ratio), and its size and orientation. Yet wood decomposition rates vary dramatically even within individual locations with similar wood quality and abiotic conditions. If such local-scale variation introduces substantial variation at broader scales (as recent work suggests is the case), then the most important additional controls need to be identified to project reliably how the amount of dead wood – and the forest functions that rely on it – will respond regionally to disturbances such as climate change.

At the time of the summer experience, the named REU student (Corinna Steinrueck) will be a rising junior at Warren Wilson, a small, undergraduate liberal arts college in North Carolina. All students pursuing degrees in the Natural Sciences at Warren Wilson gain undergraduate research experience through the College’s Natural Science Capstone Program. Each student is matched individually with a Warren Wilson College faculty mentor, who provides training, mentorship, and support during the research process. The research culminates in a formal presentation and thesis submission, and involves two additional committee members. Bradford (the PI of the main award) will serve as one of those committee members and Steinrueck will initiate her capstone research as part of the REU. This opportunity arose because Steinrueck was selected as part of the inaugural group for a new endowed initiative to engage undergraduates as summer research interns at the Yale School of Forests. She carried out this internship in summer 2016, and interacted with Bradford as part of the internship on the research funded under the main award. Steinrueck was highly rated by the internship leads and enthused by the wood decomposition research. Subsequent discussions between Steinrueck, Bradford and her Warren Wilson advisor generated this REU request to launch her capstone independent research experience.

New Project Funding: Pete Raymond/Kelly Aho

CO2 Evasion from the Connecticut River Watershed

PI: Pete Raymond, Co-PI Kelly Aho
Sponsor: Univ. of Hartford-NASA CSG-Graduate Research Fellowship $8,000
Summary: “Freshwater outgassing” was added to the IPCC carbon cycle in the AR5 highlighting that freshwaters process carbon and release CO2. The magnitude of this flux remains uncertain, in part, because CO2 concentrations in streams/rivers are understudied. I will monitor and model CO2 concentrations in the Connecticut River Watershed to describe controls (climate/landcover) on CO2 variability.

I hypothesize that evasion estimates from my process-based model will capture natural variability and thus be more accurate than current estimates. This research relates directly to NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth by increasing our understanding of processes controlling CO2 evasion to improve global carbon models.

New Project Funding: Stefano Carrattini

Social Contagion in the Adoption of Renewables (SCAR)

PI: Stefano Carrattini
Sponsor: Haute école de gestion Genève (pass-through from the Swiss National Science Foundation) Contract $23,809
Summary: This project uses spatial econometric techniques applied to administrative data to analyze the adoption of solar panels in Switzerland, and survey data to analyze preferences for solar installations’ types and characteristics. Dr. Stefano will provide the Geneva-based PI with continuous feedback and instructions on the realization of the project, as well as direct interventions in the econometric analyses, the collection of data (both from administrative sources and surveys), and the redaction of working papers, scientific articles, and reports.

New Project Funding: Amy Weinfurter

1 Gigaton Coalition

PI: Amy Weinfurter
Sponsor: National University of Singapore Contract $25,353

Yale University will deliver:
Six case studies in selected developing countries featuring renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, including examples of subnational leadership and public-private-partnerships.

  • Proofreading, editing, coordination of expert peer review of the report and incorporation of comments of the report
  • Outreach material for presentation at related meetings and COP23
  • The deliverables which the Parties shall jointly deliver under this Project are:
  • 1 Gigaton Coalition's third report, written in English (around 25 pages plus appendices) with an Executive Summary. Layout will be organized by UN Environment
  • Proofreading, editing, coordination of expert peer review of the report and incorporation of comments of the report

New Project Funding: Barbara Reck

Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CEMII) for Reducing Embodied-energy And Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing

PI: Barbara Reck; Co-PI Thomas Graedel
Sponsor: Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance Corporation (Department of Energy/DOE) $ 36,976

Node lead (node Systems Analysis and Integration)
Research in REMADE will be organized in five nodes, one of them being Systems Analysis and Integration (SA&I), and this node will be led by Yale. Systems Analysis is core to the success of the REMADE Institute in achieving its high level goals, and for tracking performance against its goals. This cross-cutting node will provide an integrated and quantitative framework to evaluate prospective projects, determine the impact of projects that have been completed, and guide Institute investments. The task of the node lead will be coordinating the different research projects within SA&I, and ensuring efficient and continuous communication with the other four node leads. It requires regular reporting on SA&I node progress to REMADE’s leadership, reviewing the progress made by the four other research nodes, and incorporating these research results into the SA&I research to the extent possible. In collaboration with REMADE’s leadership team the Yale lead will review past and prioritize future REMADE research projects.

New Project Funding: Karen Seto

NASA’s Black Marble Product Suite: Algorithm Refinement and Validation Efforts

PI: Karen Seto
Sponsor: National Aeronautics & Space Administration $129,620
  1. Support PI Román and his team to develop VIIRS algorithms, especially change metrics and NTL products that will support the land change and carbon cycle science research communities.
  2. Contribute to quality assessment of NASA Black Marble product suite.
  3. Carry out case study analysis to assess utility of Black Marble product suite.
  4. Outreach with scientific and policy end user communities to increase awareness of Black Marble product suite.
  5. Co-supervise one postdoctoral researcher with PI Román.
The project advances scientific knowledge in three ways: (1) Develops, implements, and disseminates an innovative mixed-methods approach that blends computational social science with long-term ethnographic fieldwork in rural communities. This unique mixed-methods approach is especially suited to the research questions above, and will advance a cutting-edge paradigm for other social scientists to blend large-scale data science with on-the-ground fieldwork. (2) Challenges and pushes forward the state of rural and environmental research, beyond its historical foci (e.g. Rust Belt, Appalachia, boom & bust), to account for remarkably different dynamics in the wake of today’s energy transition, especially in the critical and under-researched Western U.S. (3) Takes up the urgent call from leading scholars for deeper and more empirically grounded study of rural relationships to renewable energy. In doing so, this study constructs a new theoretical framework that transcends academic silos, and synthesizes research from sociology, energy studies, science and technology studies, religion, economics, and law.

New Project Funding: Michelle Bell

Environmental Health Disparities in an Older Population

PI: Michelle Bell 
Sponsor: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/NIH/DHHS $3,927,549

Summary: Understanding environmental health disparities for older persons is critical given the unprecedented aging of the population, with 20% of US persons anticipated to be >65y by 2030, and the elder population becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Older persons can be more affected by environmental and socioeconomic status (SES) factors due to baseline health, changing metabolism, or larger cumulative exposures. Harmful environmental exposures, such as air pollution, often occur in communities facing SES stressors including deteriorating housing, poor access to health care, high unemployment, crime, and poverty, which may exacerbate negative health effects. This phenomenon is most pronounced for low income and minority communities and underlies health disparities. Identifying the most harmful environmental and social factors and the subpopulations of elderly that are most affected is of paramount importance. Although it is widely agreed that multiple environmental and SES factors affect health, little is known about their complex interactions. Our long-term objective is to investigate how environmental and SES factors jointly contribute to health disparities in the older population. We consider disparities in two separate but related forms: 1) differences in exposures (e.g., pollution levels) to environmental and SES factors; and 2) differences in health response (e.g., relative risk) from exposures to environmental and SES factors. This proposal brings together investigators with a long history of working on environmental health disparities and related advanced spatial and statistical analyses. Our aims are to: 1) calculate differences in exposures to environmental and SES factors, considered individually and collectively, for an older population (>65y) in Michigan and North Carolina, and to construct a highly resolved spatio-temporal data architecture for analysis; 2) calculate differences by subpopulation (e.g., race/ethnicity, age, sex, community SES) for associations between environmental and SES factors and cause specific emergency cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and mortality; and 3) combine disparities in exposures and disparities in health response to calculate overall environmental health disparities. Environmental and some SES factors represent modifiable risks through which we can improve health in our aging population. Analyses will identify the most effective foci for intervention and policy engagement by identifying the most significant common contributors to environmental health disparities for the elderly, thereby directly contributing to NIEHS’s mission to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives.

New Project Funding: James Saiers/Michelle Bell

Drinking water vulnerability and neonatal health outcomes in relation to oil and gas production in the Appalachian Basin

F&ES PI: James Saiers, Co-I Michelle Bell in collaboration with PI: Nicole Deziel (School of Public Health)
Sponsor: Environmental Protection Agency $1,998,515
Summary: Hypothesis/Objectives: Quantitative data and models describing the complex inter-relationships between unconventional oil and gas (UO&G) activity, water quality, human exposures, and health effects are scarce, presenting challenges to decision-makers responsible for protecting human health. We propose to address these limitations by creating a framework for making quantitative inferences on neonatal health impacts from UO&G-associated activities in the Appalachian Basin. Our overarching hypothesis is that predictions of drinking-water vulnerability in proximity to maternal residence during critical windows of prenatal development are correlated with increased risk of adverse birth outcomes. This hypothesis will be tested by addressing the following three objectives: 1) develop a statistical vulnerability index model to more accurately estimate drinking water susceptibility to UO&G activities in the Appalachian Basin, 2) verify the utility of the vulnerability index model by comparing predictions with water-quality measurements made using novel analytical techniques capable of resolving chemical fingerprints of UO&G-related contamination, and 3) investigate the association between exposure to UO&G-related water contaminants and adverse neonatal outcomes in Pennsylvania (PA) and Ohio (OH) using our vulnerability index as a proxy for exposure, while also accounting for other UO&G stressors and socioeconomic disadvantage.

Approach: We will formulate a model that predicts the spatiotemporal variability in groundwater vulnerability to UO&G-associated chemicals. This statistical model will be trained with calculations of a physically based, hydrologic model that simulates the probability of overlap between capture zones of drinking-water wells and UO&G contaminant sources in Susquehanna County, PA and Belmont County, OH. Once calibrated, the resultant vulnerability index model will be tested against water-quality data collected in a large-scale sampling campaign of 500 homes across four additional PA and OH counties. Water samples will be analyzed for a broad range of inorganic and organic compounds, including UO&G-related contaminants that cannot be detected by conventional analytical techniques. Our studies will culminate with a case-control study of 8,000 neonates in PA and OH to determine whether exposure to UO&G contaminants (as estimated by our vulnerability index model) is associated with changes in the incidence of adverse birth outcomes (low birthweight, preterm birth, small-for-gestational age, and birth defects). 

Expected Results: Our vulnerability index model will provide a novel tool for policymakers, public health officials, and researchers to prioritize monitoring, allocation of resources, and inform human health/exposure studies. Our field data on the occurrence of UO&G-relevant contaminants in drinking water will be unprecedented in terms of its spatial coverage. We will provide improved estimates of associations between predicted exposure to water contaminants and neonatal health outcomes that will address critical questions about whether UO&G is associated with adverse human developmental and teratogenic effects. The research framework can be applied in future analyses of the impact of water contaminants on health outcomes in other geographic regions.

New Project Funding: Kangning Huang (Faculty advisor: Karen Seto)

Modeling the water requirement for urban heat island mitigation with multi-sensor and multi-temporal remote sensing data.

PI: Karen Seto, Co-PI Kangning Huang
Sponsor: National Aeronautics & Space Administration NESSF 2017 Fellowship $40,250
Summary: In the near future, the confluence of rapid urbanization and climate change is likely to increase health risk and energy consumption, by aggravating urban heat island (UHI) effects in more urban areas with large populations. Mitigation of UHI requires understanding its determinants, namely anthropogenic heat, efficacy of heat advection and convection, surface albedo, and evapotranspiration (the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration). While most of these factors are difficult to change, evapotranspiration can be enhanced by providing urban vegetation, which has been found to reduce temperature by 1.3˚~1.6˚C in previous studies. However, this approach usually needs to be sustained by irrigation, which accounts for a major portion of urban water use, amounting to more than 50% in arid/semi-arid climates. Despite the potential of irrigation in UHI mitigation, it may not be a reasonable use of water in all cities. By 2050, more than 1 billion urban populations will live under water stress due to urbanization and climate change. Since these global changes will also aggravate UHI, many cities are likely to face the difficult choice between UHI mitigation and water conservation. Supporting this decision-making requires advancing our scientific understanding of the relationship between water usage and UHI mitigation effectiveness in various urban environments. We plan to model this relationship with multi-sensor and multi-temporal remote sensing data. Images from Landsat/TM, Sentinel-1/SAR, and QuickBird will be used to generate urban surface parameters required in the model. Time series SMAP soil moisture, MODIS normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and municipal water statistics will be used to estimate irrigation water usage. After validating the model with MODIS land surface temperature (LST), we will repeat the simulation while applying various amounts of irrigation to quantify the water-UHI relationship. This study will yield maps of urban surface structures and irrigation water usage, as well as the water-UHI relationships for urban areas with different biophysical characteristics. The resulting relationships will advance the scientific knowledge on water-energy balance in urban environments, and help manage urban water budget and alter local climate, therefore addressing issues prioritized by the Climate Variability and Change and Water and Energy Cycle focal areas of NASA’s Earth Science Division, as well as the Water Resource focus of the Applied Science Program. This study will also potentially achieve broad societal benefits with remote sensing data, by informing cities’ decisions regarding water resource, health risk and energy consumption that can affect the majority of the world’s population.

New Project Funding: Mark Ashton

Assessment of Impacts of an Invasive Herbivore on the Biodiversity and Community Structure of Forests in the Northeastern United States

PI: Mark Ashton
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service $11,000
Summary:The proposed project is intended to support collaborative studies between the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the U.S. Forest Service, with a focus on identifying, describing, and modeling the impacts of introduced insects on the community ecology and biodiversity of deciduous forests in the Eastern United States. Currently, an average of 0.43 high-impact invasive forest insects and pathogens are introduced to the United States per year (Aukema et al. 2010), making this a pressing issue from the perspectives of both conservation efforts and stand management.

One of these high-impact introduced species, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) threatens the viability and sustainability of eastern hemlock (Tsuga candensis) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana). Since its introduction, the hemlock woolly adelgid has spread to infest hemlock in at least 18 states, and now occupies roughly half of the distribution of hemlock in eastern North America. Infestation by the hemlock woolly adelgid can lead to needle-loss, bud-kill, and ultimately, tree mortality. Evergreens provide key ecosystem functions in eastern hardwood forests and in many stands, hemlock represent either the only softwood component, or are one of two conifers in stands (the other conifer is often white pine, Pinus strobus). The loss of eastern hemlock therefore threatens the loss of a major ecological and structural component to eastern forests.

In 2004, a study was initiated at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Yale-Myers Forest to evaluate the growth and survival of non-native hemlock (Tsuga) in eastern North America. The study was developed in response to questions regarding the use of non-native hemlock species with innate resistance to the adelgid (such as Chinese hemlock, Tsuga chinensis) as ecological surrogates for eastern hemlock killed by the hemlock woolly adelgid. In 2007, this study was expanded to evaluate the response of the extended biotic community associated with both the native and introduced hemlock species. In 2012, the study was expanded again to integrate additional hemlock species and hemlock hybrids grown in both naturalized and common garden environments. This work has indicated that the canopies of hemlock and white pines support a diverse arthropod community that includes more than 800 morpho-species of insects, mites, and spiders.

Preliminary analyses of these arthropod communities have shown that that nearly half of the morpho-species found on the conifers in this system have been found only on hemlock, and that half of these hemlock-associated species may be restricted to the native eastern hemlock. While these data have been informative, research on this diverse community has been limited by the logistical constraints imposed by the effort required to process and identify arthropods using traditional taxonomic methods. To accelerate this effort, we are expanding our taxonomic tools to include the use of DNA barcoding using the cytochrome-oxidase 1 gene (CO1), taking advantage of both the Barcode of Life Database hosted by the National Institute of Health, and the DNA sequencing facilities on Science Hill at Yale. 

New Project Funding: Gary Dunning

PA categories V and VI as landscape mechanisms for enhancing biodiversity in agricultural land, ecological connectivity and REDD+ implementation

PI: Gary Dunning
Sponsor: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) $633,471

Summary: In this project, TFD will i) support IUCN with landscape dialogue processes around the role and potential of PAs Categories V and VI in successful conservation and sustainable development outcomes; ii) comparative analysis through case studies of practical examples of different contexts of how PAs Categories V and VI are being deployed, and share the resulting facts and knowledge with stakeholders in the project countries; and iii) develop a community of practice within the African conservation community to make the case for and promote knowledge and practice around PAs Categories V and VI. This project will increase biodiversity conservation potential of agricultural and forest land in 4 African countries by enhancing and expanding the role of PA categories V and VI, and other conservation measures including the full IUCN PA Matrix of governance types. It will target areas of high biodiversity value where deforestation and land degradation persists as an ongoing threat but where conventional exclusionary measures are neither socially acceptable nor operationally viable. Landscape-level pilots, building on and strengthening existing initiatives and decision-making and governance structures and processes will be initiated and learnt from, with knowledge being exchanged with national and sub-national decision making structures on what works and why. In doing so, the project will directly contribute to national policies and strategies aimed at stabilizing land-use, protecting the interests of local and indigenous communities, supporting sustainable land use for local development and improving ecological connectivity.

New Project Funding: Marian Chertow

Assessment Reusing Non-Hazardous Industrial Waste in the U.S.: A Geo-Specific Estimate of Quantities and Benefits

PI: Marian Chertow
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $299,874
Summary: For all of the recent interest in waste in the U.S., one very large category, nonhazardous industrial waste (NHIW), has been less studied over the last 25 years. NHIW, such as blast furnace slag, food processing waste, and wood pulping residue, results from production processes, and these secondary by-product materials can be, in most cases, a tangible substitute for primary raw materials. Life cycle studies demonstrate that NHIW reuse is a viable strategy for conserving natural resources and achieving substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Capturing the largest possible benefits of NHIW reuse, however, requires bringing together detailed knowledge of NHIW generation, NHIW reuse pathways, and system design at a high geospatial resolution. This systems level knowledge of NHIW has not been available previously in the United States, yet utilizing it would greatly enhance the nation's resource recovery efforts.

The research proposed here employs a novel, data-driven approach to quantify the extent to which optimized NHIW reuse can contribute to a more resource-efficient and sustainable industrial sector in the US. It builds on results from four ongoing research efforts at the Yale Center for Industrial Ecology: 1) developing a robust accounting methodology for NHIW generation by industry in the US; 2) quantifying and spatially delineating NHIW disposal and reuse patterns and regulations on a state-by-state basis; 3) monitoring and carefully analyzing Pennsylvania NHIW data and practices, the only state with a strong NHIW law in place since the early 1990s, and 4) refining an "industrial symbiosis" database of actual, demonstrated resource sharing and beneficial use opportunities across firms for NHIW from around the world. With these unique assets available, this project will: (1) delineate NHIW generation throughout the US at a high geo-spatial resolution; (2) establish a rigorous baseline for current NHIW disposition at a matching spatial resolution; (3) design modules to assess the environmental impacts of transportation and different NHIW reuse pathways; (4) evaluate NHIW reuse potential and resulting environmental benefits based on empirical evidence and geo-spatial constraints.

Intellectual Merit: Given the dearth of research on NHIW in the US, a project is needed to reverse this course to: - Generate new knowledge on NHIW generation, disposition, and reuse opportunities at a high spatial and sector resolution for the US; - Develop a generalizable methodology for the geo-specific optimization of NHIW reuse and the assessment of resulting environmental benefits; - Evaluate the potential for NHIW reuse to reduce the carbon and material footprints of the industrial sector in the US. Broader Impacts: Quantifying resource and climate impacts of NHIW reuse and examining it spatially has broader impacts on three fronts. First, it offers a sturdy foundation for assessing state and national material efficiency and GHG emissions targets for public and private sector actors. Second, it enables state and local officials to consider beneficial reuse as a routine, evidence-based dimension of urban and rural development planning. Third, valuable educational and outreach opportunities will be created based on the findings of this project that will assist interested parties from school children to industrial leaders seeking to recover more and dispose less.

New Project Funding: Pete Raymond

Magnitude and Controls on the Lateral Transport of Carbon via Streams and Rivers

PI: Pete Raymond
Sponsor: National Aeronautics & Space Administration $961,582
Summary:  Inland waters cover a small area of the planet and thus their impact on global budgets has received limited systematic study. Nevertheless, idiosyncratic approaches, have, in recent years, suggested that inland waters are key "hot spots" that control the processing of carbon at the global scale. The study of the roles of both the ocean and the terrestrial biosphere have made stunning achievements by launching systematic large regional- to- global networks. In contrast, the study of inland waters has lagged, largely due to lack of any centralized coordination and synthesis. The proposed synthesis activities will launch a systematic program to refine and scale-up inland water fluxes. The proposal will catalyze an international group of scientists with specialties ranging from geomorphology to remote sensing to biogeochemistry. The lead PI, Raymond, led a grass-roots effort to include inland waters in regional and global fluxes as part of the Global Carbon Project's (GCP) REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes (RECCAP) project.  0ne of the conclusions of the RECCAP work is that sustained, organized study would be highly beneficial moving forward.  The proposed work consists of a number of research activities in Years 1 and 2 that have already been defined as major shortcomings coupled with a series of workshops to continue and broaden synthesis activities, with emphasis on engaging scientists in tropical regions that have little data.
Calculating the inland water C02 flux involves global spatially explicit knowledge of the gas transfer velocity, surface area and C02 concentration. For surface area we will improve 1) the temporal and spatial resolution of water surface area, which is currently at annual and >1OOO's km2 scales, 2) Develop spatial maps for streams at high latitudes, which are currently lacking, 3) improve data sets and knowledge of hydraulic coefficients, which are currently derived from the United States only and contain biases due to the use of gaging station data.  To improve estimates of dissolved C02 concentration we propose to 1) create standard operating procedures (S0P's) for the inland water community, 2) begin the creation of a database and 3) facilitate a network for direct C02 measurements in undersampled tropical regions. For the gas transfer velocity, the aforementioned improvement of hydraulic coefficients is critical for improved estimates.

The inland water community has made recent scaling advancements, but the community still suffers from a lack of cohesion that precludes a systematic and sustained approach. A major impact of the proposed work is to create a coordinated network of international scientists, including representation from regions that are generally not included, for scaling inland water fluxes. The proposed work centers exclusively on carbon, which is an element with obvious societal importance due to its radiative heating potential in the atmosphere. The proposed products, however, will be important to any element in aquatic environments that has a gaseous phase, is exported to the ocean, or is buried in inland lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. The initial team has a mixture of established and new career scientists which will be critical for maintaining a network into the future. The group also has budgeted room to grow and will strive to keep a wide range of scientist from both a career and background stand point.

New Project Funding: Alark Saxena

YHI- LWR partnership for Transboundary Flood Resilience – Phase II

PI: Alark Saxena
Sponsor: Lutheran World Relief $30,429
Summary: Trans-boundary Flood Resilience (TBR) project intends to establish the initial systems and structures needed to strengthen the human, financial, natural, social and physical capital of the targeted communities, while simultaneously documenting the innovative trans-boundary approach that has been successfully piloted by the team to-date and engaging policymakers and stakeholders in both countries for a discussion on scale. Through clear documentation and articulation of the approach, the project seeks to expand awareness and knowledge of the approach and gain buy-in from state and national authorities for expansion in new areas. In addition, the approach has the potential for replication in other transboundary communities experiencing similar shocks and stressors in the region.

Underpinning this work is the resilience measurement component led by Yale University, which piloted a measurement tool based on the sustainable livelihoods framework (SLF). This tool takes a holistic, systems-based view of resilience, in which six different forms of capital (social, financial, human, natural, physical and political), moderated through processes and institutions, contribute to the resilience of households and communities. The survey data, composed of over 100 different indicators, is grouped according to various capitals or processes and institutions, and standardized. These indicators are then aggregated to derive a composite index indicating the resilience “score” of a particular community at a particular time, and allows for comparative analysis of data collected pre- and post-monsoon in the years before, during, and after the intervention begins.

Yale University will deploy its innovative resilience measurement tool (developed during the TBR pilot phase) to establish/ analyze the initial base line resilience of local communities and identify areas for intervention for increasing resilience e.g. alternative livelihood activities or increased institutional support to the local community etc. Based on regular data collection by field teams, the tool will be further used for monitoring mid-course corrections. Finally, the tool will be able to document and measure the overall change in resilience of local communities post the intervention of the projects. During this process, the Yale team will create an online platform where various implementing partners will be able to monitor the overall progress (in terms of resilience) that has been made during and post intervention. In addition, Yale University will provide additional analysis using the resilience measurement tool, for CDMCs to learn alongside the team which livelihoods are most adaptive to shocks and should be recommended in other areas for the strongest livelihood diversification.

New Project Funding: Mary Tyrrell

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Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively: Family Woodland Owners Outreach and Education Program

PI: Mary Tyrrell
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service $920,000
Summary: The Sustaining Family Forests Initiative (SFFI), a project of Yale’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, has developed a research and education program that enhances the ability of natural resource professionals to reach more family woodland owners with effective conservation and stewardship messages, services and programs. This is accomplished by using the principals of social marketing – namely understanding the attitudes, values and preferences of landowners in order to tailor communication, services, and programs to meet their needs. SFFI has made significant inroads into landowner outreach science and education, using the National Woodland Owner Survey data, landowner focus groups and social marketing tools/approaches to create educational materials and programs for natural resource professionals.

The broad goal of the TELE program is to change the way natural resource professionals interact with woodland owners so that they are far more successful in guiding and persuading woodland owners to be good stewards of their land. TELE accomplishes this in four ways: (1) by using research on woodland owners to inform landowner outreach, (2) by providing natural resource professionals access to data and tools, (3) by training natural resource professionals in more targeted and efficient marketing techniques, and (4) by working intensively with a few partnerships that are trying to accomplish ambitious conservation impacts on the ground.

With this new grant funding, SFFI will expand the program by designing and conducting various educational programs on effective landowner outreach for landscape-scale conservation partnerships, provide project implementation support for key partnerships, and develop and implement an evaluation framework for measuring outcomes (landowner behavior change) and impact (changes on the ground).

New Project Funding: Mary Tyrrell

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Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively and Women Owning Woodlands Outreach

PI: Mary Tyrrell
Sponsor: USDA Forest Service $209,933
The Sustaining Family Forests Initiative, a project of Yale’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, has partnered with Women Owning Woodlands (WOW) leadership and WOW networks, to develop and implement an education program that uses the successful Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively (TELE) methodology to support natural resource professionals working specifically with female woodland owners. Women comprise a large and growing portion of the population of family forest owners in the U.S., and appear to be good candidates for participation in conservation and stewardship activities. Between 2006 and 2013, the percentage of FFO ownerships indicating women as the primary decision maker for the property increased from 11% to 22%, covering 44 million acres of forest land. In addition, 58% of the properties have at least one woman listed as a sole, primary, or secondary owner. Women are more likely than men to have inherited their forested land, potentially thrusting them into a new role as the sole decision-maker. Depending on their life stage, this could mean making decisions about end-of-life land-transfer or considering if and how to begin a new phase of active management (Butler et al. in review). According to research conducted in the U.S., women tend to show greater concern for the environment than men. As decision-makers and partners in joint decision-making about forested land, these female woodland owners have the potential to be involved in more stewardship and conservation-oriented activities.

The Sustaining Family Forests Initiative has developed a research and education program, Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively, that enhances the ability of natural resource professionals to reach more family woodland owners with effective conservation and stewardship messages, services, and programs. (WOW) is a collaborative project of the National Woodland Owners Association and the USDA Forest Service Cooperative Forestry Office that brings topical, accessible, and current forestry information to female woodland owners and forest practitioners through news articles, blogs, events, resources, and personal stories. WOW supports women in forest leadership, women who manage their own woodlands, and all who facilitate the stewardship of forests.

New Project Funding: Bartholomew DiFiore (Faculty advisor: Simon Queenborough)

Estimating predator abundances from space? The impact of predators on herbivore behavior in coral patch reef ecosystems
PI: Bartholomew DiFiore (Faculty advisor:  Simon Queenborough)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Summary: Traditional ecological theory predicts that predators impact ecosystems through direct consumption of prey. Predators also, however, dramatically influence prey behavior, and these nonconsumptive risk effects can have equivalent or greater impacts on ecosystems than consumptive interactions.

Predators indirectly alter nutrient cycling, plant biomass, organic matter decomposition, and primary production by impacting prey foraging behavior. While risk effects are well studied in terrestrial and aquatic systems, fewer studies have examined these interactions in marine ecosystems. Risk effects can influence coral cover on coral reefs, the spatial distribution of macroalgae, and seagrass carbon stocks.  Yet the extent of these effects remains uncertain. Seagrasses sequester more carbon per unit area than terrestrial carbon sinks and store an estimated 19.9 Pg of organic carbon globally. Considering the size of blue carbon stores and climate change, it is critical to understand how predators impact carbon stocks via nonconsumptive risk effects. Coral patch reefs located in shallow seagrass plains offer a unique system in which to examine risk effects. Patch reefs are surrounded by barren rings of sand known as grazing halos, which are formed by herbivorous fish and echinoderms preferentially grazing close to the safety of the patch reef to avoid predators. Grazing halos are visible evidence of nonconsumptive risk effects and offer a unique opportunity to use satellite imagery to examine the effects of predators on herbivore foraging behavior and the spatial distribution of carbon stocks.

I will combine fish surveys, grazing assays, satellite remote sensing, and carbon stock assessment techniques to evaluate nonconsumptive predator risk effects at coral patch reefs to answer the following research questions:
  1. At the local patch scale, does predator abundance affect foraging distance, halo size, or organic carbon stocks?
  2. At the landscape scale, does halo size vary spatially or temporally and does this variation correlate with protection status or historic estimates of fish abundance?

New Project Funding: Craig Brodersen

IOS: Collaborative Research: Conifer leaf anatomy determines hydraulic functioning
PI: Craig Brodersen
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $407,429
Summary: Conifers inhabit some of the driest and coldest habitats that are able to support tree growth. Further, many conifer species are threatened by a changing climate where heat waves and droughts are predicted to become more frequent and severe, thereby inducing physiological stress that can make them more vulnerable to pests and pathogens. However, conifers remain understudied physiologically compared to angiosperms. Although most conifer leaves have only a single vein supplying water to the leaf, the internal anatomy outside the vein is incredibly diverse across the conifer phylogeny. The impact of this diversity on water transport and carbon uptake is unknown, both within an ecophysiological and evolutionary context. The primary goal of this project is to develop a mechanistic framework that will allow us to understand the influence of conifer leaf anatomy on leaf hydraulic conductance and photosynthetic capacity, for the explicit purpose of elucidating how conifers have adapted to arid and cold environments and have also been able to successfully compete with angiosperm species over evolutionary history. This mechanistic framework will also be used to determine how conifers will perform given current climate change predictions. We will apply this framework across the broad conifer phylogeny. This project will combine state-of the art 3-dimensional imaging methods (high-resolution X-ray computed micro-tomography) with a hydraulic model and measurement of leaf hydraulic conductance to elucidate the impact of conifer leaf internal anatomy on hydraulic function.

New Project Funding: Noah Sokol (Mark Bradford, faculty advisor)

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Untangling Aboveground versus Belowground Plant Contributions to the Soil Organic Carbon Pool

PI: Noah Sokol (Mark Bradford, faculty advisor)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $21,775

Summary: Considerable debate exists around the relative roles of aboveground versus belowground plant inputs in supplying carbon to the soil organic carbon (SOC) pool. Despite the importance of resolving this debate to accurately model the entire terrestrial carbon cycle, there are still a notable lack of empirical studies that directly track the contributions of both aboveground and belowground plant inputs as they flow through the soil food web and accumulate in distinct fractions of the SOC pool, and test actual mechanistic differences that underpin aboveground versus belowground plant C pathways, independent of the quantity and quality of C flowing through them. Dissertation research thus far has addressed though a multi-year field study. The PIs plan to address in this DDIG, through a controlled lab microcosm study that tests broadly applicable, mechanistic differences in how C flows through aboveground and belowground plant pathways to the SOC pool. Methods: The plant carbon compound glucose (isotopically labelled with13C) will be inserted into laboratory soil microcosms, containing constructed soil horizons. Glucose insertions will be made through both aboveground and belowground entry points, and at different volumes and frequencies, to reflect key differences underlying belowground versus aboveground pathways to the SOC pool. Measuring the accumulation of 13C in the SOC pool between different treatments will allow the relative importance of these different pathways features to be assessed.

New Project Funding: Max Lambert (David Skelly, faculty advisor)

DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Geographic variation in sex-linkage in the North American green frog

PI: Max Lambert (David Skelly, faculty advisor)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $21,763

Summary:The genetic basis of sex determination and sexual development are poorly understood in most amphibians, in large part because amphibian sex chromosomes are morphologically indistinguishable. Using genome complexity reduction and high throughput sequencing, I developed thirteen sex-linked single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genetic markers for the green frog (Rana clamitans). I am using these markers to test for sex reversal, discordance between an individual's phenotypic and genotypic sex, across hundreds of frogs from sixteen populations in Connecticut. The development of these markers provided two interesting insights: 1) The discovery that one SNP locus was homologous to sequences of Dmrt1, a gene that has been repeatedly co-opted for sex-determination in an array of animals, highlighting it as a candidate sex-determining gene in R. clamitans; and 2) Whereas all thirteen loci were statistically sex-linked, some were perfectly associated with sex across the 77 adult R. clamitans used while others showed lower degrees of sex-linkage. This variation suggests that some loci are further away from the sex-determining locus, and are therefore more likely to recombine. I propose to build upon these results with two objectives. I propose to 1) explore if, and to what extent, an expanded sequence of Dmrt1 is sex-linked across the range of R. clamitans which covers much of eastern and central North American and 2) simultaneously address whether our thirteen SNP markers are sex-linked throughout the R. clamitans range or whether they show substantial geographic variation in sex-linkage. Methods: I will sample R. clamitans from six sites dispersed across the extent of the species' range. I will genotype all samples for Dmrt1 using primers developed by myself and collaborator Tariq Ezaz (University of Canberra) based on Dmrt1 sequences for other ranid frogs. To assay all SNP markers, I will use a custom oxidized lowplex assays developed in collaboration with Diversity Arrays Technology. Using Cochran-Armitage tests corrected for multiple comparisons, I will test which Dmrt1 alleles are sex-linked and if sex-linkage shows geographic variation. Similarly, I will test which, if any, SNP markers show geographic variation in sex-linkage.

New Project Funding: Ken Gillingham

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Using Behavioral Science to Target LMI and High-Value Solar Installations
PI: Ken Gillingham
Sponsor: DOE SEEDS $1,350,000

Project Objectives:
The first objectives of the project are to rigorously test new messaging, financing, and shared solar approaches for enhancing the diffusion of solar energy in low and moderate income (LMI) populations and quantify the benefits to the electricity grid from programs to expedite deployment of solar energy in targeted areas of high potential value to the grid. A further objective is to develop a new agent-based modeling framework of solar diffusion incorporating spatial and temporal constraints and run simulations calibrated to the adoption patterns in the targeted populations to deepen the state of the science in the nature of solar diffusion and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of levers to expedite deployment in targeted populations.

Project Description:
This project is a three-year data-driven analysis of novel marketing, financing, and shared or peer-to-peer solar options to facilitate solar adoption in LMI communities and areas with high potential benefits to the electric grid. This research builds off of the successful Yale SEEDS I project that assessed the use of novel behavioral strategies and social interactions to accelerate deployment of solar energy. This project involves two waves of randomized field experiments, the first wave involving novel approaches to reaching LMI communities, and second to areas with high potential value to the electricity grid, as determined by an electricity grid model that will be developed by the research team and calibrated to data from utilities and regional transmission  organizations. Both waves will be followed by surveys to develop insight into the
effectiveness of different approaches. The project will also develop a new agent-based model of solar energy diffusion that explicitly incorporates the real spatial and temporal constraints due to the nature of peer effects in solar diffusion. The agent-based model will be calibrated using data from both rounds of randomized field experiments and used to simulate future diffusion of solar energy. Finally, the project will involve outreach and dissemination of the key findings to relevant stakeholders, including through the writing of a guidebook highlighting the key conclusions on the most effective and cost-effective approaches for deployment of solar energy to LMI communities.

Potential Impact of the Project:
This project will not only directly lead to deployment of solar energy to LMI communities and areas of high potential benefits to the electricity grid, but will also provide both a methodological and substantive contribution to our understanding of the process of diffusion of solar energy and the levers most likely to be effective and cost-effective to further encourage deployment. It will lead to at least four publishable high-impact journal articles and a guidebook of successful and verified strategies for deploying solar in LMI communities. 

New Project Funding: Chad Oliver

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PI: Chad Oliver
Sponsor: : United Nations Development Program, General Directorate of Forestry, Turkey $706,160

The Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry has a two-year project working with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the General Directorate of Forestry (GDF) of Turkey on developing and adapting a computerized Forest and Ecosystem Management System to support sustainable forest management in Turkey.

The General Directorate of Forestry, manages around 25% of Turkey’s land area and is dedicated to becoming a leader in sustainable forest management. Recent efforts focus around the influence of forest management decisions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) and how to optimize forest use not only for productivity, but also biodiversity, water quality and availability, carbon sequestration, employment, and other areas of local or global interest. The system will use a variety of spatial data and support optimization over different land uses and forest treatments.

New Project Funding: Lisa Dale

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Climate Change Synthesis
PI: Lisa Dale
Sponsor: Council of Western State Foresters $29,149
Summary: CWSF is interested in understanding actions underway in member states to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Improved fluency on the state of play across the West provides an opportunity to highlight the critical role played by forestry in the evolving climate change discussion. Products developed by the YCELP team will empower Western state foresters and the Council to be centrally positioned in the climate change conversation, and will amplify the voice of foresters across the West. 

New Project Funding: Lisa Dale


Mobilizing Climate Change Adaptation Knowledge through Global and Regional Networks
PI: Lisa Dale
Sponsor: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Enviornment Policy Implementation, Kenya $20,000
Summary: The Paris Agreement raised the political profile of climate resilience. There is now a global goal for climate change adaptation and it is recognized that adaptation represents a challenge with local, national and international dimensions.  The UN Climate Resilience Initiative: Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape, known as A2R, is a global, UN led, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to strengthen climate resilience for vulnerable countries and people. It will bring together governments, international agencies, regional initiatives, the private sector, civil society and researchers.  The initiative seeks to accelerate action on key aspects of climate resilience under its three pillars:

  • Anticipate – Strengthen early warning-early action systems
  • Absorb – Establish and extend climate risk-transfer and social protection mechanisms
  • Reshape – Shift to climate resilient development pathways

New Project Funding: Angel Hsu


Support to the 1 Gigaton Coalition
PI: Angel Hsu
Sponsor: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) $216,171
Summary: The 1 Gigaton Coalition supports platforms to measure and report GHG emission reductions resulting from renewable energy and energy efficiency programs so that these contributions are recognized and counted. The Coalition focuses on cooperation between countries and on bringing developing countries’ impacts to light. This voluntary international framework focuses on programs that are not fully understood due to a lack of quantifiable information to assess their impact –these often-overlooked activities will save an estimated 1 GtCO2e by 2020.  Yale University prepared the inaugural report of the 1Gt Coalition presented in December 2015 at the Paris COP.  The objective of this project is to support the 1 Gt Coalition in defining and preparing its second report due in November 2016. The support includes the selection of topics for inclusion in the second report of the coalition and the preparation of that report. 

New Project Funding: Karen Seto

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Urban Growth, Land-Use Change, and Growing Vulnerability in the Greater Himalaya Mountain Range Across India, Nepal, and Bhutan
PI: Karen Seto
Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration $749,815
Summary: Home to about 210 million people and extending over eight countries, the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region is at the confluence of two major trends that together are transforming one of the most dynamic mountain systems in the world. First, the region is a hotspot for four natural hazards: earthquakes, fires, floods, and landslides. Over the past few years, the HKH region has experienced a number of devastating natural disasters, including a 7.5 magnitude Pakistan-Afghanistan earthquake in 2015, a glacial lake outburst flood in northern Bhutan in 2015, floods in Uttarakhand in 2013 that left nearly 6,000 dead and more than 100,000 people trapped, and the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in 2015, that killed more than 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000.  Second, the HKH region is rapidly urbanizing. Fueled by migration from rural areas, valleys and plains, the growth of religious, ecological and adventure tourism, and recent social unrest, towns and urban centers are expanding. Although the region is still predominantly agrarian, migration to urban centers is increasingly an important livelihood strategy for rural households, and non-farm income is an increasing component of household incomes. As recently as 1981, less than 10% of the Himalayan population lived in a town or city. By 2000, the urban population in the region had doubled to 20%. The growing urban population, an urbanizing economy, and associated land use and land cover changes are transforming the Himalayas. Construction of buildings, deep roadcuts in steep hillsides, and unplanned urban development, all of which require cutting into bedrock or crossing geologically weak areas, have resulted in increased and more severe occurrences of hillside collapse, landslides, debris flows, rock slides, putting millions of people at risk.
Yet despite the vulnerability of the region and its people, the 2015 Nepal earthquake highlighted the lack of accurate and up-to-date information about urban settlements in the region and those most at risk in this coupled social-environmental system. The proposed research aims to fill these knowledge gaps by using multi-scale and multi-source satellite data applied to the Turner et al. (2003)and Luers et al. (2003)vulnerability frameworks to answer five inter-related research questions about the HKH region:

  1. How and where are urban settlements changing, and what are the associated land use and land cover changes with these changes?
  2. What are the frequency, magnitude, and duration of the four dominant natural hazards—earthquake, fire, flood, and landslides—and how do they vary over time and space?
  3. What is the sensitivity of the socio-economic system to different stressors?
  4. Where are urban settlements most vulnerable and to what stressors are they most vulnerable?
  5. What explains differences in the vulnerability of urban settlements across the HKH region? 

The proposed research includes three important innovations: to analyze urban change and associated land-use dynamics in a multi-country framework, to examine multiple dimensions of vulnerability, and to examine a contiguous geographic region that covers approximately 1.289 million km2 with the goal of capturing all types and sizes of urban settlement change. This approach is a marked departure from most other studies that focus solely on a few capital or large cities and their immediate surroundings. Through a coordinated research strategy that interweaves the entire Landsat TM time series for 41 scenes, high resolution commercial imagery from Quickbird and WorldView 1, 2, and 3, analysis of socioeconomic data related to sensitivity, and fieldwork, the project will quantify and map the vulnerability of the HKH region to different stressors.

New Project Funding: Tom Graedel


EAGER: Preparing the Yale Metal Life Cycles Database for Global Distribution
PI: Tom Graedel; Co-PI:  Barbara Reck
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $233,784
Summary: Databases that result from academic research activities are increasingly deposited in accessible archives for the purpose of making them available for use by institutions and governments worldwide. These data are static, however – they have no provision for updating and enhancement nor the assurance of archive security and long-term preservation. In the case of material flow information, essential to the evaluation of metal use, recycling, import/exports flows, and losses to the environment, quantitative life cycle results have been published for some sixty elements, but rarely with the supporting information being publicly available and/or the detailed underlying and generated data available in a user-friendly format. Nonetheless, these cycles form the foundations for subsequent research related to materials sustainability, product lifetimes, international trade, carbon emissions, and many related topics. From this perspective, the present proposal seeks the necessary resources to fully document and transform the Yale archive of data on all aspects of materials sustainability for numerous metals and metalloids from its present form into a convenient, easily-accessed, and well-documented package. It will then be transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey for data formatting review, quality assessment, achieving, security, updating enhancement, and accessibility.

New Project Funding: Craig Brodersen

Structure and Function of Whole-tree 3D Xylem Networks in Response to Past, Present, and Future Drought
PI: Craig Brodersen
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $463,788
Summary: Forest productivity is directly linked to the growth and maintenance of plant vascular systems that transport water from the soil to the leaves. Water is transported to the top of the canopy under below atmospheric pressure through a network of thousands of interconnected conduits collectively known as xylem. During drought tension on the xylem sap grows, leading to the formation of air bubbles in the xylem that spread from vessel to vessel, blocking water transport, reducing photosynthesis, and ultimately leading to death. Current theory suggests that this rapid loss of conductivity occurs at specific threshold, or tipping point, yet these tipping points are not well defined for most species, nor are the underlying mechanisms. Across the planet, tree species live precariously close to their physiological tipping point, and further climate change will undoubtedly unseat a number of tree species from their dominant positions in many ecosystems (Choat et al. 2012). Our ability to predict and plan for the conservation and management of our forest resources directly depends on our knowledge of water transport through plants. How trees organize the spatial distribution of xylem conduits and connections that either facilitate water and nutrient distribution, or prevent the spread of embolism is, therefore a key component to plant survival. Surprisingly, these traits persist as one of the most prominent gaps in our understanding of plant structure and function. Much of this uncertainty stems from our primitive understanding of 3D xylem connectivity and the difficulty in studying its spatial organization; the conduits are small, the tissue is opaque, and cutting into the tissue destroys the structure and obscures its function. Over the past eight years we have developed high resolution X-ray computed tomography (microCT) to move beyond traditional 2D microscopy with the specific goal of exploring 3D xylem network structure and function.

New Project Funding: Dan Maynard (Mark Bradford, faculty advisor)


DISSERTATION RESEARCH: The functional consequences of antagonism in fungal communities
PI: Dan Maynard (Mark Bradford, faculty advisor)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $21,543
Summary: Dissertation research completed thus far directly links microbial trait expression to competitive ability and functional ability, suggesting that antagonistic interactions alter ecosystem function in ways that challenge traditional ecosystem models and ecological theory. In previously established field and laboratory experiments, microbial community composition explained a larger proportion of variability in ecosystem function than environmental conditions, highlighting the need to better understand how species interactions and community structure alters environmental function.  The PIs propose to expand their research to obtain three primary objectives: (1) develop a generalizable model for incorporating competitive network structure into traditional biodiversity-function experiments; (2) use this model to quantify how microbial combative interactions and competitive network structure alter ecosystem function; (3) determine how competitive intransitivity and combative interactions affect spatial structure and realized diversity of antagonistic communities.

New Project Funding: Reid Lifset

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Additive Manufacturing and the Environment: A Special Issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology
PI: Reid Lifset
Sponsor: United States Department of Energy $66,512
Summary: Additive manufacturing, best known to the public as 3-D printing, is a rapidly developing technology that holds out the promise of new capabilities and innovation in a wide variety of industries.  Because the core process is additive, in many cases, there is less waste—because no cuttings or grindings are produced as occurs in conventional machining processes.  AM sidesteps creation of molds and related manufacturing process, allowing production in response to actual demand, rather than forecast, demand.  AM also facilitates localized production.  3-D printers in homes and small businesses can be used to make objects one-at-a-time using software readily available via the Internet, avoiding the need to ship the final product to the user. 
As with any new technology, AM presents environmental opportunities and challenges. The opportunities include reduction of transport due to localized production, increased availability of spare parts, avoidance of excess production and inventory, decreased waste, and decentralized production creating the opportunity for diverse members of society to participate in design and manufacturing.  Challenges include the environmental footprint of raw materials, occupational health and safety issues, challenges to recycling, and increased shipping of raw materials to diverse locations.
While there is an extensive literature on the manufacturing aspects of AM, research on the environmental dimensions of additive manufacturing is more limited, largely focusing on energy consumption of machining and related unit processes. Nascent literatures on particulate and gaseous emissions from additive processing and life cycle assessment of AM are emerging.  The literatures are largely disconnected and not linked to scenarios regarding the potential environmental advantages of additive manufacturing.  The special issue aims to catalyze research and analysis and exchange across disciplines and literatures.
The Journal of Industrial Ecology, a peer-reviewed international bimonthly journal, owned by Yale University and published by Wiley-Blackwell, seeks funding for the publication of a special issue on environmental dimensions of additive manufacturing.

New Project Funding: Tom Graedel


Small Scale Funding Agreement Relating to Integrated Scenarios Activity
PI: Tom Graedel
Sponsor: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) $100,000

Summary: The purpose of this agreement is for Yale University to conduct integrated scenario analyses related to the rates of use and environmental impacts of metal ores, non-metallic minerals, and other resources. Yale University’s expertise is well established to conduct research and produce an assessment on results from integrated scenarios. This agreement will result in enhanced understanding by governments and other stakeholders of the policy implications related to the results of the integrated scenario assessments.

New Project Funding: Michelle Bell

SEARCH: Solutions for Energy, AiR, Climate, and Health
PI: Michelle Bell
Sponsor: EPA Air, Climate And Energy (ACE) Centers $9,999,990
Summary: SEARCH (Solutions for Energy, AiR, Climate, and Health) Center is a collaborative effort principally between Yale and Johns Hopkins Universities. The research conducted by this Center is motivated by the importance of impending major energy transitions facing the US over the next several decades. These transitions potentially interact with climate change and the responses to climate change, and all have potentially serious implications for regional air quality and thereby human health.  In addition these transitions encompass modifiable factors that can be changed to drive improved air quality.  The goal of the SEARCH Center is to characterize factors contributing to emissions, air quality and health associated with key energy-related transitions in order to understand how these factors affect regional and local differences in air pollution and public health effects.  In addition we hope to identify key modifiable factors (e.g. transportation sources, and power generation) and how those factors and their air pollution impacts are likely to change over time.

New Project Funding: Mary Tyrrell

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Support for Tribal Student Travel to Yale-ITC Symposium
PI: Mary Tyrrell
Sponsor: US Forest Service $5,000
Summary: The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies co-hosted a symposium with the Intertribal Timber Council to explore some of the key challenges in Indian forestry management illustrated in the Third Indian Forestry Management Assessment Team report (IFMAT-III). The symposium focused on two principle areas: (1) reforming the federal trust relationship between Tribal Nations and the federal government as it pertains to forestry; and (2) workforce development to train the next generation of forestry and natural resource professionals for Tribal Nations. Eighteen young tribal members, who are studying natural resource management and forestry, were invited to attend the summit and participate in the discussion with the tribal resource managers, Yale students, and agency personnel.

New Project Funding: Tom Graedel

United States Criticality Scenarios, 2015-2050
PI: Thomas Graedel
Sponsor: Critical Materials Institute, The Ames Laboratory (Dept. of Energy) $164,998
Summary: Issues of immediate scarcity of materials are of vital importance to the U.S. national economy, but equally important is the potential for scarcity in the longer term. As a component of the materials criticality research at Yale University, we are developing a set of global-level scenarios for material supply and demand for the period 2015-2050. These scenarios are not predictions, but are visions of several feasible patterns of global development that are materials-relevant. They have the potential to address more than sixty different materials of potential interest, including catalyst metals, individual rare earths, and other energy-related elements. We propose to extend this analysis to generate detailed scenario results for a group of clean energy materials at the United States level, to include treatment of global and domestic supply, demand, and criticality. The results will provide policy-relevant information and insight for the U.S. Government and for U.S. corporations.

New Project Funding: Sara Kuebbing

EAGER: Collaborative Research: Comprehensive Analysis of Long Term Ecological Research Survey
Yale PI: Sara Kuebbing, Postdoctoral Associate in collaboration with PI Adam Reimer (Michigan State)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $18,149
Summary: Long-term ecological research has the potential to provide significant insights in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. Despite widespread recognition of the importance of long-term research by scientists and research institutions, gaps in research priorities and experimental design still exist. To identify and prioritize opportunities for future long-term research, researchers at Yale and Michigan State University conducted a survey to gather the opinions and views of ecologists and evolutionary biologists. This proposal seeks to conduct comprehensive analysis of this dataset, with over 1,100 responses from scientists nationwide. A cursory analysis of this dataset at a workshop in early 2015 demonstrated that this survey dataset was rich in ideas for future research, opportunities that could potentially facilitate this research, and barriers that could inhibit successful long-term research. Because the survey responses represent the views of a large proportion of practicing researchers and scientists within these fields, including researchers that are not currently engaged in long-term research, the analysis of this comprehensive dataset has the potential to stimulate and redirect long-term ecological research within the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology.
This research will analyze these survey data using standard social science methods. The survey dataset includes a combination of quantitative (ordinal and categorical) questions and qualitative (open-ended) questions. Using thematic coding, open-ended questions (which were used to solicit research priorities, opportunities, and barriers) will be transformed into categorical variables that can be analyzed quantitatively. Survey analysis will include both a broad categorization of the views of the field as a whole as well as an exploration of differences in opinions and priorities based on respondent subfield, experience, institution type, and geographic focus. Survey analysis will be primarily quantitative, including descriptive characterization of responses and comparison of mean responses among subgroups of respondents to test for differences.

New Project Funding: Alex Felson

Baltimore Earth Stewardship Initiative Demonstration Project
PI: Alex Felson
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $14,994
Summary: The Earth Stewardship Initiative demonstration project brings together city managers, designers, community leaders and ecologists to envision the future of Baltimore’s people and neighborhoods, infrastructure and ecosystems. The program is part of the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) Earth Stewardship Initiative and is organized to coincide with and harness the ESA’s Centennial meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. The project extends from the successful first Earth Stewardship Initiative (ESI) Demonstration project initiated last year in Sacramento, California. This year’s initiative seeks to link community perspectives on neighborhoods, green space, and environmental stewardship with urban ecological researchers interested in studying and shaping urban environments and strengthening communities. Teams include Baltimore City officials, the Parks & People Foundation, Baltimore Waters, Baltimore Ecosystem Study scientists, and professional firms seeking to incorporate ecological science into a community-based planning, education, and outreach process. Teams will add value to ongoing green infrastructure projects through a series of steps that bring together ecological research experiments with community planning and urban ecosystems functioning. The values and obstacles of this approach revealed through this demonstration project can be used to inform future efforts to pursue earth stewardship and develop integrated efforts toward ecosystem resilience and human health. ESI Fellows, ecology and design students from around North America, will play an essential role within a multidisciplinary framework of local practitioners, stakeholders, and community-based groups to contribute to actual planning projects. Through this summer effort and a fall course at Yale, we hope to improve implementable plans to enhance resiliency, promote biodiversity and habitats, while engaging in revitalization efforts and supporting community health, education, and outreach objectives.

New Project Funding: Mark Bradford

Understanding local controls on wood decomposition in a regional context
PI: Mark Bradford
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $149,901

Summary: A critical determinant of the carbon balance of forests is the rate at which dead wood decays. This is determined by the rate at which dead wood is formed and the rate at which it breaks down, or decomposes. Dead wood is also a hotspot for other nutrients to accumulate and it is a home for many species of animals, plants and microbes. Because trees contain a lot of carbon, our understanding of how the carbon cycle might be changing requires a better understanding of the wood decomposition process. With that in mind, this project will decompose logs from five common US tree species across a gradient spanning northeastern to southeastern US temperate forests. Potential controls on wood decomposition rates will be manipulated experimentally, such as the density of dead wood and the types of wood-decomposing fungi growing on the logs. Other factors, such as soil nutrient content, temperature and moisture will be monitored. The tree logs will be collected after a year of decay in the field and brought into the laboratory to assess their decomposition extent and associated wood-decaying fungi. The data will then be analyzed to determine wood decomposition rates under the different conditions. Information from this project will be used to refine predictions of carbon-cycle changes and the effects of environmental change on forests. The results will also provide guidance to the forest industry on management of dead wood stocks in forest. The importance of natural wood decay will be communicated through a collaborative effort with the Peabody Museum of Natural History, by creating "living" dead wood exhibits for public display and use in educating visiting middle-school students.

New Project Funding: Liza Comita

Collaborative Research: Genetic diversity, resistance genes, and negative density dependence in tropical tree seedling dynamics
Yale PI: Liza Comita, in collaboration with PI James Marden and Co-PI Claude dePamphilis (Penn State), and PI Scott Mangan (Washington Univ/STRI)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $158,545

Summary: Negative density dependence (NDD), i.e., reduced growth or survival with increasing densities of conspecific neighbors, has long been recognized to play a role in maintaining diversity in species rich communities, such as tropical forests. Recent studies have revealed that NDD is also related to species abundances within local communities. Specifically, locally rare tree species suffer more from the density and proximity of conspecific neighbors than common species, primarily due to attack by host-specific soil pathogens. This project will test a novel hypothesis to explain this pattern: rare species suffer stronger negative conspecific effects because they have reduced polymorphism at the local population and seedling cohort level in their resistance (R) genes. The rationale is that rare species are likely to have experienced genetic bottlenecks, inbreeding, drift, and have fewer pollen donors, all of which can reduce the genetic diversity of their offspring, including critical R genes, which undergo diversifying selection. Thus, seedling cohorts of rare species, being more homogeneous in R gene alleles, are likely to be co-susceptible to more pathogens (and the neighbors that harbor and spread them) than common species, which would in turn serve to keep them rare. We will test this hypothesis in an intensively studied forest on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama using an integrated combination of transcriptomics, experimental studies of pathogen-mediated seedling mortality, and spatially explicit simulations to examine effects of distance and genetic similarity on disease transmission.

New Project Funding: Xuhui Lee

Deuterium Excess of Water Vapor in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer
PI: Xuhui Lee
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $467,517

Summary: This research will explore the utility of water vapor isotope observations for attribution of vapor to remote source regions, local influences and transport in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). The emphasis is on “deuterium excess” (dx) of water vapor, a measure of the relative abundance of the D and 18O isotopologues of water. The research methodology consists of data analysis and ABL modeling. The dx data are hourly observations made with laser-based instruments in 11 climate zones in North America and in Asia. An isotopic land surface model will be used to quantify local evapotranspiration effects on the observed variations in dx. Equilibrium boundary layer calculations and large-eddy simulations will be used to infer the dx signal of the vapor in the free atmosphere and its entrainment effect on the ABL dx. Trajectory analysis will identify contributions from remote source regions. The project will yield new isotopic constraints on the linkage between the atmospheric and the land branches of the hydrological cycle.

New Project Funding: Peter Raymond

Collaborative Research: Linking microbial diversity, gene expression, and the transformation of terrestrial organic matter in major U.S. rivers
Yale PI: Peter Raymond, in collaboration with PI Byron Crump (Oregon State), Co-PI George Aiken (USGS), and PI Aron Stubbins (Univ. of Georgia)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $293,972

Summary: Rivers are the principle conduits between the major global organic carbon stores on land and those in the ocean. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is a master variable in rivers, impacting light attenuation, metal transport, and metabolism. Riverine bacteria rely on DOM for sustenance and, in using DOM, respire a fraction and alter the composition of the remaining DOM. The relationship between microbes and DOM is a crucial but poorly understood shaper of river ecosystem function. One major gap is our understanding of specific metabolic capabilities of bacteria and how they interact with organic matter quality to carry out the key ecosystem function of transforming and metabolizing riverborne DOM. Integrating new and cutting-edge tools in genetics and DOM geochemistry, this project will describe in molecular detail the ecological and genetic mechanisms by which terrestrial DOM is modified and mineralized to carbon dioxide during transport from land to sea by determining the interactions and feedbacks between microbial functional diversity, gene expression, and DOM metabolism in U.S. rivers.

New Project Funding: Jennifer Marlon & Anthony Leiserowitz

Collaborative Research: Multi-scale Modeling of Public Perceptions of Heat Wave Risk
Yale Co-PIs: Jennifer Marlon and Anthony Leiserowitz, in collaboration with PI Peter Howe (Utah State)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $223,141

Summary: This project will investigate how personal experience and local context shapes risk perceptions and responses to heat waves. Extreme heat events are currently the leading weather-related cause of death in the U.S. and have numerous impacts on vital social systems including food, water, energy and infrastructure. Extreme heat events are also projected to become more frequent and intense over the 21st century. It is vital to understand how both the public at large and vulnerable populations perceive the risks of extreme heat, how they decide to take action to mitigate these risks, and how their prior experiences shape future responses. This project will collect nationally representative survey data on heat wave risk perceptions, develop a multilevel model to identify individual and socio-environmental predictors of risk perceptions, and implement the model to map risk perceptions across the U.S.

New Project Funding: Jacob Bukoski (Advisor: Rob Bailis)

Assessing Heterogeneity in Organic Municipal Solid Waste for Optimized Urban Biogas Production
Fellow: Jacob Bukoski, MESc Student
Sponsor: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
Summary: Bangkok currently produces one of the highest municipal solid waste generation rates of megacities within the developing world, at over 11,000 tons per day. The majority of Bangkok’s organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) is landfilled, with adverse impacts on both public health and the environment through degradation of water resources and large releases of the potent greenhouse gas methane. One commonly accepted method for management of OFMSW is anaerobic digestion (AD). Anaerobic digestion of OFMSW has numerous benefits: voluminous production of biogas (a biogenic gas that may be combusted for electricity and heat production), reduction of landfilled waste volume, reduction of methane emissions, and production of a high-quality organic fertilizer by-product. However, variations in biochemical composition of organic waste streams largely dictate the stability of biogas production, as heterogeneities in feedstocks can cause inhibition of the microbiological processes that produce biogas. For example, significant differences in moisture content between two areas may necessitate the implementation of different AD technologies, such as wet, dry, or a wet-dry combination of AD. Additionally, OFMSW collection infrastructures can be complicated and expensive due to waste originating from numerous sources over large spatial areas. Understanding how generation of OFMSW varies over urban to exurban spatial scales will better inform strategic homogenization of AD feedstock waste streams, more efficient collection infrastructure, and appropriate siting of future biogas production plants for the sustainable management of OFMSW.

New Project Funding: Alark Saxena & Chad Oliver

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Develop a Pilot-Integrated Forest Landscape and Livelihood Management Tool for REDD+ in India
PI: Alark Saxena; Co-PI: Chad Oliver
Sponsor: Tetra Tech ARD (Prime: USAID) $61,250

Summary: The final deliverable through this contract is a pilot (Proof of concept) Integrated Forest Landscape and Livelihood Management System (ILLMS) that will be responsive to stakeholders’ requirements, and tested in application in Madhya Pradesh Forest-PLUS landscapes in India. The Pilot integrated tool will be able to demonstrate the temporal growth and dynamics of forests in the area. It will also be able to model the consequences of different forest management policy options from forest carbon, bio-diversity and household livelihood point of view. If the concept does prove useful and feasible Forest-PLUS may support further steps to deploy ILLMS in other landscapes in India, to provide training in its use in SFDs, and to institutionalize ILLMS in forestry practice and management.

New Project Funding: Arthur Middleton

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Wiggins Fork Elk Herd Migration Study
PI: Arthur Middleton, Postdoctoral Fellow
Sponsor: U.S. Forest Service - Shoshone National Forest $16,547

Summary: Middleton is currently conducting a study of elk migration across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The study relies mostly on the analysis of existing data from GPS collared elk, which are available for all but one of the major elk herds in the GYE. No GPS collar data exists for the Wiggins Fork elk herd, which summers largely on the Shoshone and Bridger-Teton National Forests and migrates to mixed-ownership winter ranges near Dubois, Wyoming. This is the one elk herd in the GYE for which fine scale spatial and temporal information on migration are not available. The goal of this project is to capture approximately 15 elk from the Wiggins Fork herd on their winter range, and then instrument them with GPS collars capable of gathering fine scale movement data for two years. This work will complete the dataset needed for the ecosystem-wide analysis of elk migration.

New Project Funding: Marian Chertow

The Fourth Symposium on Industrial Ecology for Young Professionals (SIEYP IV)
PI: Marian Chertow
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $49,775

Summary: Funding will support the fourth Symposium on Industrial Ecology for Young Professionals (SIEYP IV), to be held in Surrey, UK on July 11, 2015. Following the first three symposiums on Industrial Ecology for Young Professionals in 2009, 2011, and 2013, SIEYP IV is to be held in connection and immediately following the biannual International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) conference, and is planned, organized, and attended by students and young professionals. It aims at promoting communication among graduate students and post-doctoral researchers in industrial ecology (IE) about their research, ideas, and experiences. This project is organized by the Student Chapter of the International Society for Industrial Ecology in an effort to encourage and financially support participation by students and post-doctoral researchers in the symposium and the ISIE 2015 Conference immediately preceding it. The theme of SIEYP IV is "Envisioning Future Agendas in Industrial Ecology", reflecting the themes and objectives of the biannual ISIE conference it follows.

New Project Funding: Karen Seto

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Synthesis of LCLUC studies on Urbanization: State of the Art, Gaps in Knowledge, and New Directions for Remote Sensing Science
PI: Karen Seto
Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration $779,991

Summary: The overarching goal of the proposed research is to formulate an assessment of the patterns, drivers, and outcomes of global urban LCLUC from 1972 to 2014 by synthesizing existing remote sensing research and published studies from around the world. We aim to assess how the myriad urban remote sensing studies contribute to advancing fundamental and theoretical knowledge of urbanization, sustainability, and the functioning of the Earth system. This synthesis project will examine five key research questions. Question 1. What are the existing and available remotely sensed datasets and analyses on urban LCLUC? Question 2. What are the available change detection algorithms to characterize urban LCLUC and can we develop best practices to guide which change detection algorithms to apply across different geographies, conditions, and applications? Question 3. What are spatial patterns of urban LCLUC and how do they vary across place, time, and economic development levels? Question 4. What are the socioeconomic and policy drivers of urban LCLUC across different world regions, stages of economic development, and land use histories? Question 5. What are the effects of urban LCLUC on other land uses and land covers?

New Project Funding: James Saiers

RAPID, GOALI: Evaluating Groundwater Quality Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction within the Marcellus Shale Play
PI: James Saiers; Co-PI: Karen Olson (Southwestern Energy)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $151,182

Summary: The question that guides this study is "Does shale gas extraction lead to contamination of freshwater aquifers by methane, deep-formation brines, or frac-water chemicals?" To address this question, a suite of measurements will be made in freshwater aquifers that underlie portions of Susquehanna County, PA, a "sweet spot" of the Marcellus Shale Play. Analysis of these measurements will allow us to: (i) elucidate the spatial and temporal variations in methane concentrations and isotopic composition that occur naturally, prior to commencement of gas extraction activities; (ii) quantify perturbations in groundwater flow that are attributable to any step in the process of shale gas development; and (iii) evaluate changes in the chemical composition of groundwater induced by hydraulic fracturing and other stages of shale gas extraction.

New Project Funding: Craig Brodersen

Optical and Physical Deterrent for preventing ACP vector attack on Citrus
Yale PI: Craig Brodersen
Sponsor: University of Florida (Prime: Citrus Research and Development Foundation) $15,000

Summary: The long-term goal of this project is to develop a foliar kaolin particle film technology targeting specific wavelengths that will alter the feeding and oviposition behavior of Asian citrus Psyllid (ACP).

New Project Funding: Eli Fenichel

US-UK Collab: Risks of Animal and Plant Infectious Diseases through Trade (RAPID Trade)
PI: Eli Fenichel
Sponsor: Arizona State University (Prime: National Science Foundation) $140,990

Summary: World trade is a boon to economic development but it also increases the risk of dispersing human, animal, and plant diseases. Disease impacts on crop yields and livestock put global food supplies at risk and newly emergent diseases that move from animals to humans can threaten human health. But because trade is also one of the main drivers of economic development, it is important that it not be disrupted unnecessarily by measures to protect against disease risk. Striking the right balance is currently difficult to achieve, however, because trade impacts are not systematically incorporated into national and international disease risk assessments. This award supports an interdisciplinary and international team who seek to solve that problem by developing new tools for evaluating the disease risks of world trade. The risk assessment tools produced by the project will provide animal, plant, and human health authorities at national and international levels with the capacity to make improved assessment of the disease risks associated with imports, and of the consequences of alternative trade responses. Improving disease risk management will enhance national security and economic well-being by reducing both disease dispersal and the losses caused by trade interdictions. The project also will strengthen collaborations between US and UK scientists and train graduate students and post-doctoral scientists in research.

New Project Funding: Mary Tyrrell

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Hudson to Housatonic Conservation Initiative: Engaging Family Forest Owners in the Stewardship and Conservation of Climate Resilient Habitat and Contributing Tributaries to Reservoirs in Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT
PI: Mary Tyrrell
Sponsor: Highstead Foundation (Prime: USDA Forest Service) $10,000
Summary: Yale’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, as the lead coordinator of the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative, conducted a Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively (TELE) workshop for the Hudson to Housatonic Conservation Initiative: Engaging Family Forest Owners in the Stewardship and Conservation of Climate Resilient Habitat and Contributing Tributaries to Reservoirs in Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT. The 2-day TELE workshop covered the basic social marketing approach to landowner outreach, a review of landowner data for the region, and small group work on a case example of how to structure an effective outreach program.

New Project Funding: Anthony Leiserowitz

TV Weathercasters and Climate Education: Expanding the Reach of Climate Matters
PI: Anthony Leiserowitz
Sponsor: George Mason University (Prime: National Science Foundation) $282,533

Summary: The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) will oversee the design and implementation of two Climate Science Workshops per year, as well as ongoing professional development, for TV Weathercasters.  One workshop will be held at each of the national annual meetings of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association (2014-2015; 2015-2016; 2016-2017). 

New Project Funding: Nadine Unger

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Linking multi-scale measurements and models to advance understanding of BVOC-chemistry-climate feedbacks
PI: Nadine Unger
Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration $456,705

Summary: Terrestrial ecosystem emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are a critical quantity in air pollution-climate interactions. This project exploits synergies between the NASA SEAC4RS, NSF NOMADSS and NOAA SENEX field campaigns during 2013 to constrain the BVOC emission impacts on atmospheric chemical composition in the U.S. through the growing season into the fall. The specific goals of this proposal are to: (1) improve realism of BVOC emission schemes for next generation global Earth system models (2) assess the impacts of BVOC emissions on oxidant and secondary aerosol formation and composition over the U.S. (3) quantify future global change impacts on BVOC emissions and projections of ozone, organic aerosol and methane for a broad range of possible scenarios (2010-2100). To achieve these goals, we will probe multiple atmospheric measurements from flux towers, aircraft campaigns and satellites in combination with a vegetation model run at the site-level, regional and global scales. The model incorporates two state-of-the-science conceptually different BVOC emission algorithms (photosynthesis-based and MEGAN v3.0) that are embedded within the same host simulation framework. A global carbon-chemistry-climate model based on NASA GISS Model- E2 with interactive terrestrial ecosystems (Yale-E2) will be employed to interpret the aircraft measurements and perform the future projections. The project will provide new quantitative insights into BVOC emissions and BVOC-chemistry-climate feedbacks in the contemporary and future worlds.

New Project Funding: Anobha Gurung (Advisor: Michelle Bell)

Susceptibility to exposure from traffic related air pollution and human health burden in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
PI: Anobha Gurung, PhD Student
Sponsor: Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellowship

Summary: Research is critically needed to quantify exposure to air pollution and human health burden in growing Asian cities. As part of her EPA STAR Fellowship, Anobha will investigate exposure to traffic related air pollution and human health burden with characterization of susceptibility factors (e.g. age) in urban areas of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, one of the fastest urbanizing nations in South Asia. A review of studies conducted in Nepal of air pollution and human health, indicated a dearth of research with the few existing studies suggesting potentially serious health consequences. Here annual average urban population has grown 3.92% in the past ten years. Her previous research identified high air pollution in this region, a result of old vehicles, fuel adulteration, poor road infrastructure, unplanned urbanization, bowl like topography, and growing population. However, despite the rising urban population and traffic identified as the main source of pollution no study of traffic related air pollution and human health has been conducted in Kathmandu Valley.

New Project Funding: Jennifer Marlon

Collaborative Research: Testing hypotheses about human and climate impacts on fire over the past millennium using paleodata syntheses and global fire modeling
Yale PI: Jennifer Marlon, in collaboration with PI Brian Magi (UNC-Charlotte) and PI Patrick Bartlein (University of Oregon)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $114,291

Summary: Fire is a fundamental process in the Earth system. In recent centuries, human use and suppression of fire and both natural and anthropogenic climate change have altered the types and spatio-temporal patterns of fires globally. In the future, as global temperatures continue to increase, fire activity is projected to increase in much of the world. While the fire projections are vital for managing physical and human systems, they are highly uncertain. To reduce the uncertainty, a better understanding of how fires interact with humans, climate, and vegetation is required - not only under current conditions, which have been extensively studied - but also in the past, when conditions were very different from today.

The proposed work will address three timely research objectives designed to use observed patterns of fire activity in the past to inform global fire modeling of the past, present and future.  The project’s data and tools include a unique global charcoal database containing detailed records of biomass burning over the past 1000 years, multiple sources of paleoclimate data and simulations from the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP3), two different global land-cover reconstructions, and a global fire model. To achieve the objectives, an established paleofire database (the Global Charcoal Database) will be expanded to include over 50% more records, and an existing global fire model based on present-day conditions will be adapted for simulations of the past millennium by testing individual fire model dependencies against observations of climate and fire over the past millennium.

New Project Funding: Eli Fenichel

Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Adaptations of fish and fishing communities to rapid climate velocities
Yale PI: Eli Fenichel, in collaboration with PI Malin Pinsky (Rutgers) and PI Simon Levin (Princeton)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $150,514

Summary: Climate change presents a profound challenge to the sustainability of coastal systems, but most research has ignored the important coupling between human responses to climate effects and the cumulative impacts of these responses on ecosystems. Fisheries are a prime example of this feedback: climate drives shifts in species distributions and abundances, and fisheries adapt to these shifts. However, changes in the location and intensity of fishing also have major ecosystem impacts. This project’s goal is to understand how climate and fishing interact to affect the long-term sustainability of marine populations and the ecosystem services they support. The project focuses on fisheries for summer flounder and hake on the northeast U.S. continental shelf, which target some of the most rapidly shifting species in North America. The project addresses three questions: 1) How do the interacting impacts of fishing and climate velocities affect the persistence, abundance, and distribution of marine fishes? 2) How do fishers and fishing communities adapt to species range shifts and related changes in abundance? and 3) Which institutions create incentives that sustain or maximize the value of natural capital and comprehensive social wealth in the face of rapid climate velocities?

New Project Funding: Alex Felson, James Axley, & Graeme Berlyn

The transformation of existing green wall technology to provide urban heat rejection infrastructure
PI: Alex Felson
Co-PIs: James Axley, and Graeme Berlyn
Sponsor: National Science Foundation $299,960

Summary: Green walls provide benefits that have fostered the growth of a new industry as they can passively moderate exterior wall surface temperatures and thereby reduce building heating and cooling loads, attenuate surface temperature variations and solar exposure that degrade exterior wall finishes, and provide ecosystem service benefits including air pollution and particulate removal, mitigation of urban heat island effects, and urban wildlife habitats. To date, these benefits do not offset the costs of green walls, and therefore, the market for green walls remains limited. This research will address problems that must be resolved to transform existing green wall technology into an active technology for process heat rejection (i.e., principally, here, for chilled water generation), and thereby expand the market to a wide range of applications from households to institutions and industry. The objective is to provide a sustainable alternative to wet cooling tower technology that maintains the benefits of existing green walls, employing their methods of construction and operation, while avoiding the shortcomings of wet cooling tower technologies (i.e., single use and contamination of cooling water).

New Project Funding: Ben Cashore

Small Scale Funding Agreement Relating to Regional Delivery of the REDD+ Academy
PI: Ben Cashore
Sponsor: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) $199,942

Summary: The overall objective of the project is to ensure the development and delivery of a strong process for capacity building in which the needs of participants are tied to the delivery of on-the-ground REDD+ readiness activities through a long-term and sustainable learning experience.  The partnership is intended to produce pre-course material and complete learning modules as well as quality control for the 'REDD+ Academy'. The materials and framework required for launching a massive open online course (MOOC) on REDD+ and Land-use Planning will also be developed.

Karen Seto Succeeds David Skelly as Associate Dean & Doctoral Studies Director

seto skelly
Karen Seto, a professor of geography and urbanization at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), has been named the School’s next Associate Dean for Research and Director of Doctoral Studies.
She succeeds David Skelly, an F&ES professor of ecology who was appointed as the new director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History beginning July 1.
For Seto, who has been at Yale for six years, the new position offers a chance to reassess how the School prepares its students for a changing academic world — and to continue the work started by Skelly to integrate the realms of research and doctoral studies at F&ES.

New Project Funding: Kris Covey (Advisor: Mark Bradford)

Dissertation Research: Quantification and Characterization of the Production of Methane in Living Trees
PI: Mark Bradford (Faculty Advisor), Doctoral Candidate: Kris Covey
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant) $21,645

Summary: Dissertation research undertaken thus far demonstrates the prevalence of elevated methane concentrations in upland hardwood dominated eastern forests, illuminates distinct species level patterns in production potential, and suggests that the highest methane production rates drive substantial through bark emission. Initial estimates indicate the magnitude of this unrecognized source could be on the same order as the upland forest methane sink. The PIs propose expanding their current work to achieve three primary objectives: 1. Determine the extent to which methane production observed in the trunks of eastern hardwood trees also occurs in conifer-dominated western forests. 2. Assess the contribution of methane production in dead wood and debris to overall forest methane flux. 3. Associate measured methane production with microbial community dynamics in wood. This work is transformative because it asks whether methane production from understudied methane sources changes forests from net methane sinks to sources. We know that heart rot is ubiquitous in forests but its part in global CH4 budgets has not been considered until publication of our preliminary data. Initial estimates from our paper suggest that heart-rot methane emissions are equivalent in global warming potential to about 18% of the carbon dioxide likely sequestered by the stand in which we worked. The studies proposed here will allow for the expansion of our current work by providing the data necessary build our initial CH4 rate estimates beyond the individual forest stand to a robust estimate of continental emissions of methane originating in living trees. Furthermore, these data will help to disentangle the contribution of in situ microbial-born methane from the other confirmed plant-methane pathways.

New Project Funding: Thomas Graedel

USGS logo
Anthropogenic Life Cycles of Scarce Metals
PI: Thomas Graedel
Sponsor: U.S. Geological Survey $48,469

Summary: Material flow analysis approaches have been used widely over the past decade to characterize the life cycles of the major metals. A similar situation has not occurred for the scarce metals, many of which are uniquely useful constituents of new technological development. This is partly due to the fact that information regarding those cycles is less readily available. However, as part of a larger criticality of metals project, we have developed information on the extraction, use, discard, and loss of a number of the scarce metals. We will use this information to construct global and U.S. life cycles for year 2008 for four scarce metals: gallium, indium, germanium, and rhenium; these are the first U.S. cycles ever to be characterized in detail for these metals. The results of this study will help to build further knowledge on the less common (“scarcer”) metals, many of which have been identified by the USGS Minerals Research Program to be of increasing importance to the U.S. national economy. Understanding the whole system of material flows can help to quantify potential primary and secondary source strengths, manage metal use more wisely, and protect the environment.

New Project Funding: Shimon Anisfeld

The Future of Long Island Sound Tidal Marshes: Understanding Marsh Migration into Different Upland Types
PI: Shimon Anisfeld; Co-PI: Andrew Kemp (Tufts University)
Sponsor: Connecticut Sea Grant $129,994

Summary: Shimon Anisfeld and his colleague Andrew Kemp will investigate the ability of salt marshes to migrate upland as sea levels rise. Healthy marshes protect shorelines from storm impacts and serve as nursery habitat for many animals. Their successful migration will depend on many factors such as elevation, hydrology, soils, plants, and animals.
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