Changing Agriculture in a Changing Climate: Exploring Farmers’ Responses to Climate Change via Multispecies Ethnography
Across the Southwestern United States, the already pervasive effects of climate change foreshadow a stark future for farmers. While there is substantial quantitative research regarding the impacts of climate change on agriculture, there is minimal qualitative research to ground abstract statistics in the lived experiences of farmers. Julia’s master’s research aims to understand how farmers in southwest Colorado are experiencing and responding to climate change, and the more-than-human interactions involved in these processes. Read more here.
A Future of Ranching in the San Luis Valley, Colorado
By area, livestock grazing is the single largest land use across the San Luis Valley, across the state of Colorado, and across the United States. While livestock producers are not often seen as conservationists in environmental spaces, ranchers steward private and public landscapes that provide ecosystem services and support plant, wildlife, and human communities across the West. Kathleen’s research investigates the future of ranching under ongoing, 21st-century drought, and the ability of ranchers to adapt and respond to increasing social and environmental pressures. Read more here.
Assessing Restoration Outcomes on Natural Gas Well Pads in the Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming
The Jonah Field is a large natural gas field in southwestern Wyoming leased to energy operators by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The development of natural gas infrastructure is a large-scale disturbance on big sagebrush plant communities in this region. Reclamation is the mandated form of restoration meant to stabilize these disturbances after mineral extraction and return the ecosystem to its pre-disturbance state. Damaris’s research will assess historic restoration outcomes on well pads based on the seeding methods that were implemented and the age of the well pads since development. Read more here.
Global change effects on soil greenhouse gas exchange and carbon storage along a temperature gradient in the North American Central Grasslands
Most ecosystem and earth-system models predict soil organic carbon losses from temperate grasslands as temperatures increase. However, the magnitude of that loss is uncertain and the influence of other global change factors on the temperature sensitivity of decomposition remains poorly understood. Uthara’s research explores how historical temperature regimes interact with global change factors (i.e., warming, nitrogen deposition) to influence soil carbon storage and greenhouse gas exchange in semi-arid temperate grasslands. Read more here.
Modeling Radiation Use Efficiency in Big Sagebrush Understory
Sam’s research focuses on gathering field data to pair with remotely sensed imagery to then model a physiological plant trait called radiation use efficiency. Radiation use efficiency is the proportion of incoming solar radiation that is converted to biomass. Decreases in efficiency of plants has been shown to correlate with stress and decreased production and understanding variables that can influence stress can aid in future management decisions. Sam is particularly interested in the environmental variables that are related to spatial variability of radiation use efficiency in the understory of big sagebrush. Read more here.