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Refsnider K.A.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Miller G.H.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Hillaire-Marcel C.,University of Quebec at Montréal | Fogel M.L.,Carnegie Institute | And 2 more authors.
Geology | Year: 2012

Subglacially precipitated carbonate crusts (SPCCs) formed on bedrock and till boulder surfaces adjacent to the Barnes Ice Cap (BIC), central Baffin Island, Arctic Canada, act as unique archives of Laurentide Ice Sheet basal conditions. Uranium-series dating of these features reveals that carbonate precipitation from subglacial meltwater occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), requiring warm-based ice in the region at that time. However, the preservation of fragile SPCCs is unlikely beneath erosive warm-based ice, suggesting that the transition to subsequent cold-based conditions took place shortly after the LGM, and glacial erosion in the region occurred dominantly prior to the LGM. The oxygen isotopic composition of the meltwater from which the SPCCs precipitated is indistinguishable from that of the debris-rich BIC basal ice (δ18O -24‰ referenced to Vienna standard mean ocean water), but distinct from that of the overlying white Pleistocene ice (δ18O ~-35‰), demonstrating that SPCCs are reliable archives of the isotopic composition of only the basal ice of past ice sheets. © 2012 Geological Society of America.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 173.25K | Year: 2013

When large mammalian predators are extirpated or hunting pressure from humans is insufficient, mammalian herbivores like white-tailed deer increase in density, exerting increased pressure on plant communities. Though such effects are well-documented, it remains untested how herbivore-induced changes in vegetation ricochet back up the new food chain in these altered plant communities. Making use of a unique long-term experiment where deer density was manipulated in large enclosures, preliminary data demonstrate that deer density during stand initiation (the first 10 yr following clear cut) causes significant legacy effects in forest canopies, including trees, insects, and birds, lasting at least 30 years. The current project investigates mechanisms by which this legacy operates from scales ranging from stand to individual tree to individual prey item. Preliminary data provide support for mechanisms such as reduced foliage density, reduced prey base per unit foliage, and reduced prey quality at high deer density, all due to stand-scale changes in tree species dominance caused by deer. New investigations in these stands include bird foraging observations and bird exclusion experiments to examine at what scale and by what mechanisms birds respond to changes in forest vegetation caused by historic deer browsing.

Results from this study are relevant to the ca. 30% or more of eastern US counties where deer are over-abundant. Findings will be disseminated directly to state, federal, and tribal land managers via training programs coordinated by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. The project will broaden participation by under-represented minorities in three ways. First, the PI is Native American, a group that is under-represented in STEM disciplines, particularly so in ecology. Second, the PI will provide mentorship via Indiana University of Pennsylvanias McNair program, a research mentorship program for undergraduates from under-represented groups interested in pursuing a PhD. Third, the PI will work with IUP students to establish a SEEDS chapter, a program of the Ecological Society of America that seeks to enhance opportunities for students from under-represented group to pursue careers in ecology.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Digitization | Award Amount: 225.02K | Year: 2011

This project will create InvertNet, an on-line virtual museum comprising >50 million insect and related arthropod specimens housed at 22 Midwestern institutions, focusing on the research theme of effects of land use changes on the biota of the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi River drainage basins. These collections document 160 years of environmental change and are an invaluable and irreplaceable resource but, at present, are largely inaccessible to scientists and the general public. Most previous efforts to capture and disseminate invertebrate collection data have focused on label data alone. InvertNet will use advanced digitization and networking technologies to capture and display 2D and 3D images of specimens and labels, and incorporate them into a searchable database. These new techniques should reduce the cost of digitizing insect specimens substantially.

By allowing users to find and view detailed images of specimens of particular species and their associated data labels, InvertNet will provide universal access to collections previously restricted to researchers. It will include links to the popular BugGuide.net insect identification website and to other biodiversity data portals used by researchers, educators, and the general public. This will facilitate and support many aspects of biological research and education, including species discovery and identification, pest management, ecology and biogeography. InvertNet will serve as a model, applicable to other kinds of biological collections, for the use of efficient, computer-assisted procedures to increase the speed and accuracy of collection data capture. This award is made as part of the National Resource for Digitization of Biological Collections through the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program and all data resulting from this award will be available through the national resource.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH COLLECTION | Award Amount: 222.80K | Year: 2016

This project will improve the security, preservation, and accessibility of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Herpetological Collection, a world-class resource of over 235,000 specimens. This collection includes large historical holdings from areas that have undergone drastic environmental change or may face important change in the future. Recent research citing the collection exemplifies how new and unpredicted scientific paradigms, environmental issues, and technological advances require the existence of extensive and accessible historical scientific collections. Genetics, molecular phylogenetics, museomics, biomechanics, global change, emerging diseases, and invasive species are research areas for which specimens from this collection have recently been used. Based on recommendations from recent assessments that identified a number of urgent challenges affecting the collection and its related data, Carnegie Museum of Natural History has developed an extensive plan to preserve and increase access to the collection, ensuring that this important resource is sustained and able to support research for generations to come.

Ranking tenth among US collections of its kind, the Herpetology Collection at Carnegie Museum of Natural History spans more than 100 years of scientific collecting in 170 countries. It includes 148 holotypes and 2,007 paratypes (specimens of special scientific and historic significance used in the original species descriptions), specimens of six extinct and 78 critically endangered species, and one of the worlds largest turtle collections. Through this award, Carnegie Museum of Natural History will: a) optimize storage space to improve curation and access and mitigate preservation risks due to overcrowding and suboptimal containers; b) digitize vouchered archival data related to specific specimens, providing vital context for the collection; c) accession and catalog ca. 12,000 specimens, georeference locality data, and make data and images of holotypes and paratypes digitally accessible; d) update taxonomy throughout the Section and reorganize the collection accordingly; e) enhance the publics appreciation of the value of collections and research by developing new collections-based programs and exhibits. Ensuring the long-term preservation and availability of the Sections specimens and related data is key for supporting future research efforts. Likewise, digitizing important archival records will expand the relevance of the collection for studies in ecology, systematics, conservation, and the history of natural history collections. Updating taxonomy and georeferencing additional records will enhance the precision of biodiversity data, improving usefulness to the global research community. In addition, collaborative planning will lead to the implementation of new educational programming and two new museum exhibits designed to enhance the publics appreciation of the value of collections for research and increase understanding of the collections importance in the publics day-to-day life. Project results are available on line (www.carnegiemnh.org/projects/alcohol-house), and data will be shared and made available through iDigBio (www.idigbio.org), VertNet, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: FIELD STATIONS | Award Amount: 347.78K | Year: 2014

Carnegie Institute is awarded a grant to build a modern technical field laboratory to augment the research capacity of Powdermill Nature Reserve, the ecological research field station of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh. At Powdermill, current research programs include such topics as the occurrence of avian influenza in migratory birds, nonlinear boundary effects on decomposition in forensic entomology, regional sampling of water chemistry to assess health and quality, terrestrial toxicology and flow of metals into the ecosystem via pollen and nectar, as well as extensive and diverse programs related to forest succession. Modern ecologists use technical laboratory methods more than they did formerly, and leading field stations must provide support for such procedures. Increasing the capacity of the Powdermill field station will have strongly accelerate research in the diverse programs already executed at Powdermill, and lead to additional programs in the future. These investments will help the facility to provide a leading research platform for the central Appalachians, one of the most diverse temperate ecosystems on Earth.

The proposed addition will provide a standard wet laboratory with hood, sinks, centrifuges, heat blocks, refrigeration, freezers (including -80C), balances, electrophoresis gel rigs, and all the ordinary lab ware and starting materials typical of a basic laboratory capable of tissue preservation, DNA extraction, incubation, restriction digests, gel electrophoresis, and other such procedures. Investment into a modern laboratory will contribute to expanded use by visiting researchers and formal college and university classes. In 2012 and 2013, eight federally funded projects were executed in part at Powdermill, including work by four PIs with NSF funding. About 40 researchers and professors use this station, and building a support facility will significantly improve research and teaching capacity in this region and beyond, and have a great multiplier effect in the local community. For more information about the Powdermill Nature Reserve, visit the website at http://www.carnegiemnh.org/powdermill/.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION | Award Amount: 200.00K | Year: 2012

ENERGY-NET (Energy, Environment and Society Learning Network) brings together the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) with the learning science and geoscience research strengths at the University of Pittsburgh to create rich opportunities for participatory learning and public education in the arena of energy, the environment, and society using an Earth systems science framework. ENERGY-NET builds upon a long-established teen docent program at CMNH and forms Geoscience Squads comprised of underserved teens. Together, the ENERGY-NET team, including museum staff, experts in informal learning sciences, and geoscientists spanning career stage (undergraduates, graduate students, faculty) provides inquiry-based learning experiences guided by Earth systems science principles. Together, the team works with Geoscience Squads to design Exploration Stations for use with CMNH visitors that employ an Earth systems science framework to explore the intersecting lenses of energy, the environment, and society. The goals of ENERGY-NET are to: 1) Develop a rich set of experiential learning activities to enhance public knowledge about the complex dynamics between Energy, Environment, and Society for demonstration at CMNH; 2) Expand diversity in the geosciences workforce by mentoring underrepresented teens, providing authentic learning experiences in earth systems science and life skills, and providing networking opportunities with geoscientists; and 3) Institutionalize ENERGY-NET collaborations among geosciences expert, learning researchers, and museum staff to yield long-term improvements in public geoscience education and geoscience workforce recruiting.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Biological Anthropology | Award Amount: 384.12K | Year: 2012

This project investigates the evolutionary consequences of the initial colonization of Africa by early anthropoid primates (extinct relatives of monkeys, apes and humans). Working in Eocene strata exposed along the Dur At-Talah escarpment in southern Libya, an international team of scientists based at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the University of Poitiers in France, and Tripoli University in Libya will search for additional fossils and related forms of data bearing on the earliest known African anthropoids. The project will provide training opportunities for two postdoctoral researchers based at the Carnegie Museum as well as undergraduate and graduate students from the United States and Libya. Results will be disseminated through scholarly publications, popular media, museum exhibitions, and public lectures and seminars.

Understanding how the colonization of new landmasses by invading groups of organisms affects both the invaders themselves and the local biota they encounter is a widespread problem in organismal biology. Only recently has it become apparent that anthropoid primates experienced such a pivotal event during their evolution, when they colonized what was then the island continent of Africa from their ancestral homeland in Asia. This research project provides new data that will help constrain the nature and timing of this colonization event by focusing on fossil sites in southern Libya that have recently yielded the oldest known African anthropoids. By recovering additional fossils and other geological data from these sites, it will be possible to assess: (1) whether early African anthropoids are descendants of one (as opposed to multiple) ancestral Asian forms; (2) whether early African anthropoids experienced a dramatic evolutionary radiation after their successful colonization of that landmass, which may have been related to the evolution of modern anthropoid anatomical features; and (3) whether other Asian mammals may have colonized Africa at roughly the same time that anthropoids achieved their initial toehold there.

The project and its international components are receiving joint support within NSF from the Global Venture Fund of the Office of International Science and Engineering.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANTARCTIC EARTH SCIENCES | Award Amount: 96.43K | Year: 2012

Intellectual Merit:
The role that Antarctica has played in vertebrate evolution and paleobiogeography during the Late Cretaceous and early Paleogene is largely unknown. Evidence indicates that Antarctica was home to a diverse flora during the Late Cretaceous and Paleogene, yet the vertebrates that must have existed on the continent remain virtually unknown. To fill this gap, the PIs have formed the Antarctic Vertebrate Paleontology Initiative (AVPI), whose goal is to search for and collect Late Cretaceous-Paleogene vertebrate fossils in Antarctica at localities that have never been properly surveyed, as well as in areas of proven potential. Two field seasons are proposed for the James Ross Island Group on the northeastern margin of the Antarctic Peninsula. Expected finds include chondrichthyan and osteichthyan fishes, marine reptiles, ornithischian and non-avian theropod dinosaurs, ornithurine birds, and therian and non-therian mammals. Hypotheses to be tested include: 1) multiple extant bird and/or therian mammal lineages originated during the Cretaceous and survived the K-Pg boundary extinction event; 2) the Scotia Portal permitted the dispersal of continental vertebrates between Antarctica and South America prior to the latest Cretaceous and through to the late Paleocene or early Eocene; 3) Late Cretaceous non-avian dinosaurs from Antarctica are closely related to coeval taxa from other Gondwanan landmasses; 4) terminal Cretaceous marine reptile faunas from southern Gondwana differed from contemporaneous but more northerly assemblages; and 5) the collapse of Antarctic ichthyofaunal diversity during the K-Pg transition was triggered by a catastrophic extinction.

Broader impacts:
The PIs will communicate discoveries to audiences through a variety of channels, such as the Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibition at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the outreach programs of the Environmental Science Institute of the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, Carnegie Museum will launch a student-oriented programming initiative using AVPI research as a primary focus. This array of activities will help some 2,000 Pittsburgh-area undergraduates to explore the relevance of deep-time discoveries to critical modern issues. The AVPI will provide research opportunities for eight undergraduate and three graduate students, several of whom will receive field training in Antarctica. Fossils will be accessioned into the Carnegie Museum collection, and made accessible virtually through the NSF-funded Digital Morphology library at University of Texas.


Trademark
Carnegie Institute | Date: 2015-12-04

Printed instructional, educational, and teaching materials in the field of best education practices for school systems, individual schools and departments, and educators for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. educational services, namely, providing training to school systems, individual schools and departments, and educators in the field of improving their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education practices, and distributing course material in connection therewith.


Trademark
Carnegie Institute | Date: 2015-12-04

Printed instructional, educational, and teaching materials in the field of best education practices for school systems, individual schools and departments, and educators for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. educational services, namely, providing training to school systems, individual schools and departments, and educators in the field of improving their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education practices, and distributing course material in connection therewith.

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