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NAU awarded $2.5 million to examine genetic response of ‘foundation’ species to climate impacts

The National Science Foundation has awarded Northern Arizona University a five-year, $2.5 million grant to examine how future climate change and invasive species will affect Fremont cottonwood trees, a “foundation species” of the Southwest’s rapidly vanishing stream-side habitats.

The research team will use the Southwest Experimental Garden Array, a new genetics-based research platform that allows scientists to quantify the ecological and evolutionary responses of species to changing climate conditions. With the resulting data, genetics-based models will be used to explain how the genetic connectivity of foundation species, climate change and exotic species interact to affect hundreds of dependent species.

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$2.5 million grant funds garden array to study climate change effects

The National Science Foundation has awarded Northern Arizona University’s College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences a four-year, $2.5 million grant to create the Southwest Experimental Garden Array.

The garden array will be a system of 10 experimental gardens across northern Arizona that includes habitat types from desert to alpine forests. The gardens will be used to examine how climate change will affect the ecology and evolution of individual plant species, plant communities and ecosystems.

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