Climate Change Increases Proportion of Males
in Plants with Separate Sexes, Posing Danger for Biological Communities
affected may include asparagus, spinach, dates, mulberry and juniper.
August 02, 2016, Flagstaff, AZ - A
paper published today by Nature Plants
finds that climate change will result in more male plants in species with
separate sexes, known as dioecious plants. This shift to a higher proportion of
males for many dioecious plant species could be extreme, disrupting normal
reproduction and affecting insect and other animal populations that depend on
findings indicate that dioecious plants are more sensitive to the effects of
climate change than other plant species,” said lead author Kevin Hultine,
research ecologist at the Desert Botanical Garden and NAU adjunct professor.
“We anticipate that females will die off at a higher rate as conditions become
drier, which could result in extreme male-biased sex ratios for a significant
number of populations.”
from Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Gardens, Northern Arizona University and the
U.S. Geological Survey reviewed some 83 published studies to explore the
effects of increased aridity on dioecious plant species. There are
approximately 21,000 species of dioecious plants, examples of which include asparagus,
spinach, dates, mulberry and juniper.
A Thousand Invisible Cords broadcast nationwide
Thousand Invisible Cords: Connecting Genes to Ecosystems, a Northern Arizona
University award-winning documentary, will be broadcast on more than 150 PBS
television stations during the fall. The film will be shown in some of the
country’s largest markets, including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas and
Phoenix. This documentary examines whether one gene in one plant or animal can
change an entire ecosystem. The conclusion is surprising: “The effects of genes
extend beyond the individual to have community and ecosystem consequences,”
according to the documentary’s science advisor, Thomas Whitham, who is also a Regents'
Professor and the Executive Director of the Merriam-Powell Center for
> News story
Understanding the circle of life
the newsletter of NAU’s Research Division, highlighted the contributions of the
Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center in its fall 2012 edition. The article
highlighted not only the value of the CPBC’s biological collections for
students and the research community, but also the CPBC’s outreach activities.
Additionally, the article provided a close-up look at efforts of the Deaver
Herbarium. "If anyone is interested in plants and studying diversity, this
is the place to do it," said Tina Ayers, assistant biology professor and
Deaver Herbarioum curator. "Anybody can walk in here and ask, ‘What's
this?' and we will help them."
NSF grant to make Southwest arthropod collections more
Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN) project brings together the
Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity and nine other arthropod
collections in the Southwest to create a virtual information network on
ground-dwelling arthropods—ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders. SCAN
received a three-year, $1.9 million grant through the National Science Foundation’s
Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program in May 2012.
This grant will allow the cooperating collections to create digital images of
15,000 specimens, develop new electronic identification techniques, and produce
a virtual library with data for more than 750,000 specimens. The network will
not only improve the understanding of arthropod biodiversity, but also help
researchers detect changes in distribution as climate changes.
Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss could rival impacts
of climate change and pollution
biodiversity appears to impact ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution
and other major forms of environmental stress, according to a research study
published in the journal Nature. “It has been clear for some time that species
loss affects ecosystems, but the impacts we found were very surprising,” said
Bruce Hungate, co-author and director of the NAU Colorado Plateau Stable
$2.5 million grant funds garden array to study climate
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, or SEGA.
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.