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NutNet: New Model for Global Research

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Zebra crop.jpg
Zebras and rabbits and cows, oh my! The Nutrient Network is getting a lot of press these days. Coordinated through a University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment Discovery Grant, NutNet, as it is affectionately called, is a global research network conducting standardized experiments to understand the effects of fertilization and other factors such as plant-eating animals on grasslands -- land dominated by nonwoody vegetation. 

Eric Lind, a postdoctoral associate in the College of Biological Sciences, serves as NutNet's hub of operations, in charge of managing information and coordinating the network. "What makes NutNet unique is that data are collected using the same protocols across different landscapes," he says. "These data are allowing us to ask general questions like, 'What is controlling diversity and productivity?' 'How are human activities changing diversity?' 'How do these changes impact the environment further on down the road?'"

Tracking Animals Through Space and Time

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12-11-james forester.jpgClimate change and overconsumption of Earth's resources have a huge impact on humans, but understanding how these issues affect wildlife populations and behavior is important as well.

That was the topic of the Institute on the Environment's final Frontiers in the Environment talk of the semester Dec. 11 when James Forester, IonE resident fellow and assistant professor of fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, discussed "Tracking Animals through Space and Time: Understanding the Consequences of a Changing World on Wildlife Populations."

Kaler's Spotlight Shines on IonE Projects

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In University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler's year-at-a-glance video on U of M achievements, several IonE-affiliated projects get the spotlight.

A MODEL OF COLLABORATION - The Resilient Communities Project is an initiative of the U's Sustainable Faculty Networkwith funding and administrative support provided by IonE and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. In its second year RCP is partnering with the city of North St. Paul to address community-identified sustainability projects. 

HIGH NOTES -  Daniel Crawford, College of Liberal Arts undergraduate; Scott St. George, IonE resident fellow and professor of geography, College of Liberal Arts; and Todd Reubold, IonE director of communications, put their heads together to develop "A Song of Our Warming Planet," which sets climate change data to music.

ALL THE MORE POWER - The University of Minnesota Morris - West Central Research and Outreach Center project that uses wind energy to produce anhydrous ammonia that can be used as fertilizer was funded through an IonE Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment grant. The project is part of a larger goal to reduce fossil fuel consumption in agriculture. 

Connections not featured in the video but ones of which we are equally proud are UMD's Large Lakes Observatory, which is supported by IonE, and Sarah Hobbie, who is an IonE resident fellow. Both are listed on the president's "2013 A Year to Remember" Web page.

People Reap Benefits of Investment in Nature

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greatlakes.jpgWhat do eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces have in Common? The Great Lakes! Recently, Detroit Public Television's Great Lakes Now Connect invited Institute on the Environment resident fellow Stephen Polasky to join a panel of experts to talk about the importance of investing in natural environments to enhance the quality of the Great Lakes.

The Future of Biodiversity

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laurance-crop.jpgBY MONIQUE DUBOS

Are we on the verge of an extinction crisis?

There's a rule of thumb when it comes to species extinction:  if you have 90 percent habitat loss, you lose half of the species dependent on that habitat. That's what William F. Laurance told the audience at a recent bonus Frontiers in the Environment presentation, "The Future of Biodiversity."

Soil Surprise

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cedarcreek.jpgLiving things that lurk beneath the surface of the soil have huge impacts on living things above, influencing everything from individual plants' ability to obtain nutrients to the integrity of the elaborate food webs that keep animals of all shapes and sizes alive. Now, thanks to research by IonE resident fellows Peter Reich (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences), Sarah Hobbie (College of Biological Sciences) and colleagues, it's clear that what's happening above the surface has a huge impact on the living things below as well.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.

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