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News Article | January 20, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

Overgrown shrubs thwack the sides of a pick-up truck as it bounces along a dirt road through a forest in western Virginia. On the drive, ecologist Ty Lindberg calls out the names of the invasive species crowding either side of the path. There is mile-a-minute weed, which spreads with alarming speed. A flowering annual called Asian stiltgrass carpets the ground and stifles native plants. And a particularly prickly species of rose tears at the clothes of anybody who ventures too close. “My field techs don't enjoy that one,” Lindberg says. Farther along, he stops the car at a break in the brush and picks his way through the undergrowth towards a set of plastic and aluminium stakes poking out of the ground. They mark out a 40-by-40-metre plot, one of dozens scattered throughout 1,300 hectares of forest and pasture near the town of Front Royal. From April to October, field technicians spend their days cataloguing the location, diameter and height of nearly every tree in the plot, collecting fallen leaves out of a trap and archiving pressings from invasive plants. Their main goal is to measure the ecosystem's metabolism, especially how much biomass it generates each year. At other plots, technicians trap rodents and draw blood samples to test for diseases, including those that could spread to humans. The staff collects and stores ticks and beetles, and takes soil samples to study the bacteria underfoot. Higher up in the hills, a 50-metre-tall metal tower juts above the trees, loaded with long booms holding sensors that monitor air temperature, wind speed and solar radiation at multiple altitudes. When the tower has its final instrument package installed in 2016, it will watch the forest breathe by monitoring how carbon dioxide and water vapour concentrations rise and fall. This site is one of more than 80 planned for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), a US$434-million project to build a biological observatory that spans the United States. Its goals are grand. If all goes well, it will document the effects that climate change and land use have on ecosystems and provide scientists with a nearly real-time measure of the country's ecological vital signs. Many of the sites will operate for three decades, whereas others will be packed up and relocated periodically in response to environmental changes. And the data collected will be freely available to all through an online portal. Lindberg, who manages three NEON sites in Virginia and Maryland, says that the long-term record generated by NEON could transform ecology by helping scientists to answer questions ranging from how invasive species are altering the landscape to how quickly infectious diseases are spreading through ecosystems. The network, he says, “is really an instrument”. Ecologists call it their first foray into big science — a massive project that rivals the scale of big-budget physics facilities such as particle colliders or telescopes (see 'Sentry posts'). But ecologists have not had an easy journey into the world of big science. During its five-year construction phase, NEON has encountered a series of high-profile problems that have raised concerns about the programme, which is funded entirely by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). In June 2015, the network came under fire from the NSF and Congress after NEON, Inc. — the non-profit organization that manages the project — reported that it was running $80 million over budget. Amid revelations that the company had spent federal money on parties, Congress levied charges of mismanagement and convened hearings with officials from NEON and the NSF. Events came to a climax in December, when the NSF decided to take NEON, Inc. off the project, citing a lack of confidence in the company after years of delays and questions about accounting irregularities. The agency will now seek another operator to complete construction and take over the project's management. One of the toughest tasks will be winning the support of ecologists; some researchers felt alienated during the project's planning phase and have been critical of the way the observatory network is turning out. Still, many ecologists are eager to get their hands on NEON's data and are already thinking about how to incorporate it into their studies. Ultimately, the science that they produce will determine whether the project succeeds or fails. “You build out NEON and in 30 years you're going to have unprecedented data on how ecosystems are changing,” says Peter Groffman, an ecosystem ecologist at the City University of New York. “It's very exciting and very much the next logical evolution of long-term studies.” The debates about NEON reach back to its early evolution, when it took shape in a manner very different from a major physics project. Scott Collins, an ecologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, was the first NSF programme director for NEON back in 2000. Collins says that the idea for a large ecological observatory sprang from NSF staff who were seeking ways for biologists to get a slice of the agency's big-science money: the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction budget. “That put us on a very different footing from the start because this was not something that the community and vocal ecologists had wanted,” Collins says. Although researchers did not dream up the project, they quickly embraced the idea and took the lead in moulding NEON's design during workshops. At these meetings, attendees were encouraged to dream big, says Katherine Gross, the director of Michigan State University's W. K. Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners and the current chair of the NSF's biological-sciences advisory committee. During six workshops between 2000 and 2002, ecologists developed a plan for a flexible network of observatories and experimental centres spread across at least ten sites. But scientists disagreed over whether the NSF should specify research themes for each site or allow ecologists to choose their own focus. In its 2002 budget request to Congress, the NSF asked for $12 million to develop and build two prototype NEON sites, largely based on the reports from the workshops. But Congress denied the request, citing a lack of information about the project and an insufficient estimate of its costs. At the time, the best model that US ecologists had for NEON was the Long Term Ecological Research network, a group of investigators in the United States who study the ecology of a particular spot for five or more years with sets of measurements specialized to each site. The leaders of NEON, however, eventually settled on a one-size-fits-all approach, with standard protocols and instruments that could be deployed across the entire network to study pressing issues, including changes to biodiversity and climate change. And instead of having principal investigators propose individual observatories, an expert panel recommended that the NSF develop NEON as a nationwide network managed by one entity. Encouraged by Congress to continue refining its idea of NEON, the NSF issued a call for proposals in early 2004. A $6-million grant to design NEON went to several members of the American Institute of Biological Sciences in Reston, Virginia, a non-profit organization that had been involved in the project's earlier planning. A little more than a year later, in December 2005, the lead designers created NEON, Inc. Over the next several years, the structure of NEON took shape. The network split the country into 20 domains, each with several sites outfitted with instruments and collection protocols. But when it came to choosing where to build sites and how best to make measurements, some ecologists objected to the choices and felt that their expertise had been ignored. Gene Kelly, a soil scientist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins — and now the interim chief executive of NEON, Inc. — says that the emphasis on measuring the same quantities everywhere meant that NEON had to sacrifice having the optimal protocol for every spot. “The only way to really handle it was to standardize it, but in doing that you lose a little,” he says. Kelly says that many ecologists, including him, stopped following the progress of the project closely after these decisions were made, partly because NEON, Inc. stopped asking for input. Despite the loss of some engagement from the ecological community, the NSF approved NEON's final design in 2009, and Congress authorized the money for construction in July 2011. The network would spread 17,000 sensors measuring hundreds of variables — from soil moisture to stream pH — across nearly 100 sites. And at each site, technicians would collect a suite of biological samples, including genomic data from many organisms and whole specimens of insects and small mammals. The result would be a standard set of ecological data that would allow scientists to compare and watch for changes in ecosystems and to produce ecological forecasts. Concerns about the company's accounting and the NSF's oversight cropped up almost immediately after construction began in 2012. A review that year found that NEON's books were a mess: auditors questioned more than one-third of the total construction cost — $154 million — and determined that NEON, Inc. did not provide enough information to support its proposed budget. Later audits and investigations unearthed questionable spending by NEON management, including $25,000 for a party and $3,000 for T-shirts. Also, the company moved to a new office and paid nearly $500,000 for time left on the old lease. After the audits, the NSF's inspector-general urged the agency to keep a closer eye on the project. Despite the accounting problems, the NSF and NEON, Inc. forged ahead with construction — and ran straight into delays. Some could have been predicted, such as the difficulty of obtaining permits to build observation towers in cities. Others were simply bad luck. At the site in western Virginia, a tree fell over and destroyed a collection of atmospheric instruments. A bear damaged fibre-optic data lines running to soil-monitoring instruments near the Virginia site's tower. And concerns about the health of a pregnant cheetah at a nearby conservation facility forced NEON, Inc. to abandon plans to use a helicopter to hoist the topmost sections of the instrument tower into place. Instead, construction staff raised the final sections by hand. The delays put NEON behind schedule and over budget. In June 2015, the company told the NSF that it would take an extra $80 million on top of the $434-million budget to complete construction. With Congress already concerned about the NSF's stewardship, the agency demanded that the project be downsized to stay within its budget. It told NEON, Inc. to cull the number of sites from 95 to 81, cancel construction of its stream experiments and give up some of its embedded sensors. NEON, Inc. then fired its chief executive last September and appointed Kelly to serve as an interim. But the company sealed its fate in December when it submitted an updated budget that again had extra costs and delays. The NSF decided to look for a new company to manage the project. Whoever takes over will step into a difficult role, as many ecologists remain disconnected from the project. Yet there are still big hopes for NEON in the research community. “I think it's good for scientific communities to dream big and say, 'OK this will be our unifying project',” says Ash Ballantyne, a bioclimatologist at the University of Montana in Missoula. “It's analogous to our LHC.” Interest is growing as money starts to flow towards individual researchers. In August, the NSF awarded $4.8 million in grants to investigators and workshop organizers who are interested in using NEON data. Ballantyne received $300,000 to study the effects of drought, fire and insect infestations on the carbon cycle. He plans to investigate how drought or other disturbances predispose trees to a beetle outbreak or fires. Jim Clark, an ecologist and statistician at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, won a grant to build more-sophisticated ecological models. “We've always modelled on a species-by-species basis,” Clark says. “If there's 100 species, someone has fitted 100 different models and just added them together.” This ignores the interactions between species, he says, and NEON data on species abundance could help to fit and train joint models for how species respond to ecosystem changes collectively. Frank Davis, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says that he plans to use NEON's airborne observations to study tree cover at various scales, from a few centimetres to several kilometres. Many ecologists are not accustomed to thinking at the large scale that NEON covers, Davis says. “Ultimately, I think NEON will be ready for ecologists,” he says. “But will ecologists be ready for NEON?” Some are gaining valuable experience thinking at global scales by running their own distributed networks. The Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network began in 2005 and ties together groups around the world that monitor human effects on lake ecosystems. The Nutrient Network, or NutNet, links researchers on six continents who perform a standard set of experiments looking at how plant production in grasslands is limited by phosphorus and nitrogen — two by-products of fossil-fuel combustion. Other networks are springing up to study plant populations and drought. These projects are smaller in scope than NEON, which gives researchers more control over the work. With only a handful of voices deciding how to conduct experiments or take data, projects such as NutNet can maintain a tight focus on the science. “It's very hard for NEON to do this because the entire ecological community has a say,” says Elizabeth Borer, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota in St Paul and a member of NutNet. Ecologists are still struggling to learn how to manage large projects, says Nikki Thurgate, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia and leader of international engagement for the Terrestrial Ecological Research Network — a smaller, Australian cousin of NEON. But if ecology is to forecast the problems that arise from climate change and loss of biodiversity around the world, it will need the data from large-scale networks. And one of the challenges is to keep the community engaged and informed while they wait for a grand scientific instrument to be built. “You can't pop up continent-wide environmental monitoring and have data in a couple of years,” Thurgate says. “It's just not that simple.” NEON's early struggles may fade when data start to arrive in the next few years from sites such as the one that Lindberg manages in western Virginia. On a cold day late last year, Lindberg — who still has his job for the time being — stood below the nearly finished observation tower rising high above the surrounding forest. In a nearby shed, dozens of boxes held sensors and electronics to be installed on the tower. Despite the work that remains here and at other sites around the country, Lindberg still thinks that the project can be successful — as long as researchers embrace it. “It's a scaffolding,” he says. “But this thing doesn't work unless scientists use it.”


News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present the 2017 awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology in new discoveries, teaching, sustainability, diversity, and lifelong commitment to the profession during the Society's Annual Meeting in Portland, Ore. The awards ceremony will take place during the Scientific Plenary on Monday, August 7, at 8 AM in the Oregon Ballroom, Oregon Convention Center. Learn more about ESA awards on our home website. The Eminent Ecologist Award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Soil ecologist Diana Wall, the founding director of the Colorado State University's School of Global Environmental Sustainability, is world-renowned for uncovering the importance of below-ground processes. Best known for her outstanding quarter century of research in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, one of the more challenging environments of the planet. Her research has revealed fundamental soil processes from deserts and forests to grasslands and agricultural ecosystems to New York City's Central Park. Dr. Wall's extensive collaborative work seeks to understand how the living component of soil contributes to ecosystem processes and human wellbeing--and to in turn uncover how humans impact soils, from local to global scales. In landmark studies, she revealed the key role of nematodes and other tiny animals as drivers of decomposition rates and carbon cycling. The biodiversity in soils, she found, influences ecosystem functioning and resilience to human disturbance, including climate change. She demonstrated that the biodiversity belowground can at times be decoupled from biodiversity aboveground. Her focus on nematodes in soils in very harsh environments, from the cold, dry Antarctic to hot, dry deserts, opened up a perspective on how life copes with extreme environments. She has a laudable record of publishing excellent papers in top-ranked scientific journals. Dr. Wall has played a vital role as an ecological leader, chairing numerous national and international committees and working groups and serving as president of the Ecological Society of America in 1999. She is a Fellow of ESA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Nematologists. In 2013, she received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for her outspoken efforts as an ambassador for the environmental and economic importance of soils and ecology. Currently, she is scientific chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, which works to advance soil biodiversity for use in policy and management of terrestrial ecosystems. Dr. Wall is well-respected in her role as mentor of young scientists, over several generations, and as a communicator of science outside the usual academic arenas. Odum Award recipients demonstrate their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities.? Kathleen Weathers is a senior scientist and the G.Evelyn Hutchinson chair of ecology at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, where she focuses on freshwater ecosystems. For more than a decade, she has been dedicated to advancing bottom-up network science, creating training opportunities for graduate students and tools for citizen science engagement. Her efforts strive to equip the next generation of ecologists and managers with the skills needed to protect freshwater resources. Dr Weathers played a guiding role in the formation of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), and currently acts as co-chair. A part of this international grassroots collaboration she helped develop Lake Observer, a crowd-sourcing App that streamlines the way that researchers and citizen scientists record water quality observations in lakes, rivers, and streams. Dr. Weathers has made it a priority to mentor students and early-career scientists participating in GLEON, with an eye toward diversity, inclusion, and instruction. She helped empower GLEON's student association, which contributes meaningfully to governance and training within the broader network. She also spearheaded the development of the GLEON Fellows Program, a two-year graduate immersion in data analysis, international collaboration, effective communication, and team science. The GLEON Fellows Program has emerged as a model for training initiatives in macrosystem ecology, and will affect the ecological community positively for decades to come, as participants carry their training forward to other institutions and endeavors. The Distinguished Service Citation recognizes long and distinguished volunteer service to ESA, the scientific community, and the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare. Debra Peters is the founding editor-in-chief of ESA's newest journal, Ecosphere, created in 2010 to offer a rapid path to publication for research reports from across the spectrum of ecological science, including interdisciplinary studies that may have had difficulty finding a home within the scope of the existing ESA family of journals. In her hands the online-only, open-access journal has claimed a successful niche in the ecological publications landscape, expanding to publish over 400 manuscripts in 2016. Dr. Peters, an ecologist for the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research service's (USDA-ARS) Jornada Experimental Range and lead principal investigator for the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research program in Las Cruces, New Mexico, has served on the editorial boards of ESA's journals Ecological Applications, Ecology and Ecological Monographs. She chaired the society's Rangeland Section, was a founding member and chair of the Southwest Chapter, and has served as member-at-large on the Governing Board. As program chair for the 98th Annual Meeting of the society, she inaugurated the wildly popular Ignite talks, which give speakers the opportunity to present conceptual talks that do not fit into the standard research presentation format. Dr. Peters has greatly contributed to the broader research enterprise as senior advisor to the chief scientist at the USDA, and as a member of the National Ecological Observatory Network's (NEON) Board of Directors. She has provided this quite amazing array of services in support of the society and her profession while maintaining an outstanding level of research productivity and scientific leadership in landscape-level, cross-scale ecosystem ecology. Many of her more than 100 research publication have been cited more than 100 times. Her fine record of research led to her election as a Fellow of ESA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In all respects, Debra Peters exemplifies distinguished service to the ESA, and to science. ESA's Commitment to Human Diversity in Ecology award recognizes long-standing contributions of an individual towards increasing the diversity of future ecologists through mentoring, teaching, or outreach. Gillian Bowser, research scientist in Colorado State University's Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, is honored for her joyful and successful recruitment and retention of under-represented students to the study of ecology, to public service in support of the natural world, and to empowerment of women and minorities worldwide. The Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors, such as glaciations and climate history, on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across landforms. University of Waterloo, Ontario professor Andrew Trant and colleagues at the University of Victoria and the Hakai Institute in British Columbia revealed a previously unappreciated historical influence on forest productivity: long-term residence of First Nations people. Counter to a more familiar story of damage to ecosystems inflicted by people and their intensive use of resources, the activities of native people on the Central Coast of British Columbia enhanced the fertility of the soil around habitation sites, leading to greater productivity of the dominant tree species, the economically and culturally valuable western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don). Through a combination of airborne remote sensing and on-the-ground field work, the authors showed that forest height, width, canopy cover, and greenness increased on and near shell middens. They presented the first documentation of influence on forest productivity by the daily life activities of traditional human communities. The Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by young scientists. Biological invasions, and migrations of native species in response to climate change, are pressing areas of interest in this time of global change. Fragmentation of the landscape by natural and human-made barriers slows the velocity of spread, but it is not known how patchy habitat quality might influence the potential for evolution to accelerate invasions. Jennifer Williams, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues implemented a creative experimental design using the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that allowed them to disentangle ecological and evolutionary dynamics during population expansion. Some plant populations were allowed to evolve, while others were continually reset to their original genetic composition. The authors convincingly demonstrate that rapid evolution can influence the speed at which populations spread, especially in fragmented landscapes. The Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of the scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences. Sustainability challenges like air pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, energy and food security, disease spread, species invasion, and water shortages and pollution are often studied, and managed, separately, although they the problems they present are interconnected. Jianguo Liu and colleagues provide a framework for addressing global sustainability challenges from a coupled human and natural systems approach that incorporates both socioeconomic and environmental factors. They review several recent papers that have quantified at times conflicting efforts to provide ecosystem services, when these efforts are examined in a global perspective. The authors argue for the need to quantify spillover systems and feedbacks and to integrate analyses over multiple spatial and temporal scales. This will likely require the development of new analytical frameworks both to understand the social ecological mechanisms involved and to inform management and policy decisions for global sustainability. The Innovation in Sustainability Science Award recognizes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the past five years exemplifying leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing development of effective policy to address sustainability issues is that the concepts and vocabulary used by scientists to define and promote sustainability rarely translate into effective policy, because they do not include measures of success. This challenge is particularly apparent in the concept of stability and resilience, terms which are frequently used in policy statements and have long been the subject of empirical and theoretical research in ecology, but for which there are no easily defined and quantified metrics. Ian Donohue and colleagues argue that much of the fault for this disconnect lies with the academic community. They summarize and analyze a number of examples to support their claim that ecologists have taken a one-dimensional approach to quantifying stability and disturbance when these are actually multi-dimensional processes. They argue that this has led to confused communication of the nature of stability, which contributes to the lack of adoption of clear policies. They propose three areas where future research is needed and make clear recommendations for better integrating the multidimensional nature of stability into research, policy and actions that should become a priority for all involved in sustainability science. The Whittaker Award recognizes an ecologist with an earned doctorate and an outstanding record of contributions in ecology who is not a U.S. citizen and who resides outside the United States. Petr Pyšek, the chair of the Department of Invasion Ecology at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, is honored for his pioneering and insightful work in invasion ecology. Dr. Pyšek is editor-in-chief of Preslia (Journal of the Czech Botanical Society) and serves on the editorial boards of Biological Invasions, Diversity and Distributions, Folia Geobotanica, and Perspectives on Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. The Shreve award supplies $1,000-2,000 to support ecological research by graduate or undergraduate student members of ESA in the hot deserts of North America (Sonora, Mohave, Chihuahua, and Vizcaino). Daniel Winkler, a PhD student with Travis Huxman at University of California Irvine, studies the invasion of Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts. His dissertation focuses on determining the source populations of Sahara mustard and whether plasticity in functional traits is allowing the species to spread. Funds from the Forrest Shreve Student Research Fund will be used to process samples for leaf stable isotopes and elemental stoichiometry, allowing for a comparison of functional traits indicative of local adaptation and the species' plasticity. Daniel was a National Park Service Young Leaders in Climate Change Fellow and a NSF EAPSI Research Fellow. Learn more about the August 7-12, 2017 ESA Annual Meeting on the meeting website: http://esa. ESA welcomes attendance from members of the press and waives registration fees for reporters and public information officers. To apply, please contact ESA Communications Officer Liza Lester directly at llester@esa.org. The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world's largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society's Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www. .


News Article | December 5, 2016
Site: www.sciencemag.org

This afternoon the U.S. House of Representatives passed the compromise version of S. 3084, meaning that it will soon become law. The surprising turn ends a 4-year odyssey for legislation that triggered a bitter partisan battle over how the National Science Foundation (NSF) manages its $7 billion research portfolio. The last step came after House members had gone home for the holidays—but left themselves a parliamentary loophole through which to pass unoffending legislation. That allowed a recently negotiated compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill (see story, below) to make its way onto the House floor today. Representative Barry Loudermilk (R–GA) introduced the measure, and though no actual vote was taken, the bill was deemed passed by unanimous consent. “This bill maximizes the nation’s investment in basic research, and helps boost U.S. competitiveness, creates jobs and spurs new business and industries,” said Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), who chairs the House science committee, in a statement issued shortly after the vote. “It improves accountability and transparency, reduces administrative burden on researchers, enhances agency oversight, which improves research coordination, and reforms federal science agency programs to increase the impact of taxpayer-funded research.” The top Democrat on the science committee, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), hinted at the work it took to complete the bill. “I did not always believe we would arrive at this agreement,” Johnson said in a statement. “The partisan and widely criticized House-passed version of an America Competes Act Reauthorization (H.R. 1806) was miles apart from the widely supported bipartisan Senate bill. The version of S. 3084 before us today represents what we can achieve when all parties agree to listen to each other, and perhaps more importantly, to the experts in the agencies and the stakeholder communities.” The Association of American Universities, a Washington, D.C.–based coalition of 62 research universities, captured the surprising finale with a statement from its president, Mary Sue Coleman: “With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Congress has come through and passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. We applaud this bipartisan action. This was a case in which a legislative process that carefully balanced competing interests and took into account the input provided by the university community was rewarded with enactment of good legislation.” The bill now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it. It will replace a 2010 reauthorization that expired in 2013. Here is our earlier story, published on 12 December: In the predawn hours Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to bolster innovation and research activities at NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and various research and education programs managed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (see earlier story below). The legislation’s bipartisan appeal allowed it to win unanimous approval shortly before the Senate adjourned for the year after passing a spending bill that freezes agency budgets through April 2017 and avoided a government shutdown. But procedural objections by one senator prevented the Senate from acting quickly enough to send the bill to the House of Representatives before its members left town last Thursday. That means the bill won’t be going to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law. Still, supporters are hoping that the hard-fought compromise serves as a template for quick action after the new Congress convenes in January 2017. “This legislation represents a bipartisan and bicameral approach to boosting innovation and maximizing scientific research opportunities that Congress will pick up next year,” said Senator John Thune (R–SD), who chairs the Senate commerce and science committee that crafted S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. “I congratulate Sen. [Cory] Gardner and Sen. [Gary] Peters for their outstanding efforts. … I also appreciate House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson for working with us to find an agreement that can pass both chambers.” Here is our original story, published on 5 December: Congress has reached a truce—and possibly a lasting settlement—in the fiercely partisan 3-year war between Republican leaders in the House of Representatives and the scientific community over how NSF should operate. The terms of the agreement, between House and Senate negotiators, may seem like minor changes. But the compromise, which the Senate could adopt as early as this week, resolves differences over how NSF should conduct peer review and manage research in ways that the agency thinks it can live with. The battleground is a reauthorization of the 2010 America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act, which sets out policies governing NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and federal programs on innovation, manufacturing, and science and math education. Reauthorization bills don’t fund an agency, but they provide important policy guidance. Since 2013, the House has adopted a succession of bills containing language that scientific leaders argued would have restricted NSF’s ability to support the best research. The strategy, coordinated by Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chairman of the House science committee, over the objections of committee Democrats, included favoring some disciplines over others and linking basic research projects more tightly to improvements in health, the economy, and national security. Republicans said they were simply trying to ensure that every NSF grant serves “the national interest.” But many scientists interpreted that language to mean NSF should tilt toward funding applied research with obvious payoffs. Their Senate counterparts, in contrast, united behind a single, bipartisan piece of legislation crafted by senators Cory Gardner (R–CO) and Gary Peters (D–MI) that scientists saw as much more supportive of the research enterprise. And it is that bill (S.3084), which was approved earlier this year by its science committee but never reached the Senate floor, that seems to have largely prevailed when legislators from both houses sat down to reconcile their different approaches. The final text strongly endorses the two criteria NSF now uses to judge its grant applicants—the “intellectual merit” of the idea, and the “broader impacts” of the research on society. The “national interest” categories favored by Representative Smith remain in the bill—increasing economic competitiveness, advancing the health and welfare of the public, training a globally competitive workforce, strengthening national security, and enhancing partnerships between academia and industry. But they are now listed as examples of how researchers can satisfy NSF’s second criterion—broader impacts—rather than as the primary rationale for the proposed research. At the same time, senators bowed to their House counterparts by removing language setting any spending targets. The original Senate bill called for a 4% boost for NSF and NIST in 2018. But House leadership has banished any statements in authorization bills relating to a desired amount of future funding, in keeping with their commitment to reduce the federal deficit. So the conferenced COMPETES bill is silent on funding levels for any specific program, as well as for the agencies as a whole. Senate leaders are hoping to win passage this week of the bill, which as of this morning had not been publicly posted on a government website. Its prospects are less clear in the House. And its status could be affected by how soon Congress adopts an extension of the spending freeze that applies to the current budgets of every agency. Science lobbyists are still parsing the language. But some are already reacting more favorably than they did to earlier versions, which they regarded as worse than no bill at all. According to a spokesperson for the Association of American Universities based in Washington, D.C., the compromise “balances and takes into account input provided by the university community while at the same time addressing major congressional issues and concerns.” NSF is not officially commenting on the bill. But one agency official who requested anonymity said there are no poison pills in it, and that much of the bill seems to offer support for things NSF is already doing. The bill also addresses several issues that have spurred sharp debate in recent years. NSF’s flawed oversight of the National Ecological Observatory Network, for example, has led to tighter oversight of large facilities. Congressional displeasure with the large salaries of some academic scientists, called rotators, coming to NSF for stints of 2 to 4 years has prompted new reporting requirements. But other issues transcend the agency, like reducing the administrative burden on universities receiving federal funds, policing scientific misconduct, and allowing for travel to scientific conferences.


News Article | December 5, 2016
Site: www.sciencemag.org

This afternoon the U.S. House of Representatives passed the compromise version of S. 3084, meaning that it will soon become law. The surprising turn ends a 4-year odyssey for legislation that triggered a bitter partisan battle over how the National Science Foundation (NSF) manages its $7 billion research portfolio. The last step came after House members had gone home for the holidays—but left themselves a parliamentary loophole through which to pass unoffending legislation. That allowed a recently negotiated compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill (see story, below) to make its way onto the House floor today. Representative Barry Loudermilk (R–GA) introduced the measure, and though no actual vote was taken, the bill was deemed passed by unanimous consent. “This bill maximizes the nation’s investment in basic research, and helps boost U.S. competitiveness, creates jobs and spurs new business and industries,” said Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), who chairs the House science committee, in a statement issued shortly after the vote. “It improves accountability and transparency, reduces administrative burden on researchers, enhances agency oversight, which improves research coordination, and reforms federal science agency programs to increase the impact of taxpayer-funded research.” The top Democrat on the science committee, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), hinted at the work it took to complete the bill. “I did not always believe we would arrive at this agreement,” Johnson said in a statement. “The partisan and widely criticized House-passed version of an America Competes Act Reauthorization (H.R. 1806) was miles apart from the widely supported bipartisan Senate bill. The version of S. 3084 before us today represents what we can achieve when all parties agree to listen to each other, and perhaps more importantly, to the experts in the agencies and the stakeholder communities.” The Association of American Universities, a Washington, D.C.–based coalition of 62 research universities, captured the surprising finale with a statement from its president, Mary Sue Coleman: “With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Congress has come through and passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. We applaud this bipartisan action. This was a case in which a legislative process that carefully balanced competing interests and took into account the input provided by the university community was rewarded with enactment of good legislation.” The bill now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it. It will replace a 2010 reauthorization that expired in 2013. Here is our earlier story, published on 12 December: In the predawn hours Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to bolster innovation and research activities at NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and various research and education programs managed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (see earlier story below). The legislation’s bipartisan appeal allowed it to win unanimous approval shortly before the Senate adjourned for the year after passing a spending bill that freezes agency budgets through April 2017 and avoided a government shutdown. But procedural objections by one senator prevented the Senate from acting quickly enough to send the bill to the House of Representatives before its members left town last Thursday. That means the bill won’t be going to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law. Still, supporters are hoping that the hard-fought compromise serves as a template for quick action after the new Congress convenes in January 2017. “This legislation represents a bipartisan and bicameral approach to boosting innovation and maximizing scientific research opportunities that Congress will pick up next year,” said Senator John Thune (R–SD), who chairs the Senate commerce and science committee that crafted S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. “I congratulate Sen. [Cory] Gardner and Sen. [Gary] Peters for their outstanding efforts. … I also appreciate House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson for working with us to find an agreement that can pass both chambers.” Here is our original story, published on 5 December: Congress has reached a truce—and possibly a lasting settlement—in the fiercely partisan 3-year war between Republican leaders in the House of Representatives and the scientific community over how NSF should operate. The terms of the agreement, between House and Senate negotiators, may seem like minor changes. But the compromise, which the Senate could adopt as early as this week, resolves differences over how NSF should conduct peer review and manage research in ways that the agency thinks it can live with. The battleground is a reauthorization of the 2010 America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act, which sets out policies governing NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and federal programs on innovation, manufacturing, and science and math education. Reauthorization bills don’t fund an agency, but they provide important policy guidance. Since 2013, the House has adopted a succession of bills containing language that scientific leaders argued would have restricted NSF’s ability to support the best research. The strategy, coordinated by Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chairman of the House science committee, over the objections of committee Democrats, included favoring some disciplines over others and linking basic research projects more tightly to improvements in health, the economy, and national security. Republicans said they were simply trying to ensure that every NSF grant serves “the national interest.” But many scientists interpreted that language to mean NSF should tilt toward funding applied research with obvious payoffs. Their Senate counterparts, in contrast, united behind a single, bipartisan piece of legislation crafted by senators Cory Gardner (R–CO) and Gary Peters (D–MI) that scientists saw as much more supportive of the research enterprise. And it is that bill (S.3084), which was approved earlier this year by its science committee but never reached the Senate floor, that seems to have largely prevailed when legislators from both houses sat down to reconcile their different approaches. The final text strongly endorses the two criteria NSF now uses to judge its grant applicants—the “intellectual merit” of the idea, and the “broader impacts” of the research on society. The “national interest” categories favored by Representative Smith remain in the bill—increasing economic competitiveness, advancing the health and welfare of the public, training a globally competitive workforce, strengthening national security, and enhancing partnerships between academia and industry. But they are now listed as examples of how researchers can satisfy NSF’s second criterion—broader impacts—rather than as the primary rationale for the proposed research. At the same time, senators bowed to their House counterparts by removing language setting any spending targets. The original Senate bill called for a 4% boost for NSF and NIST in 2018. But House leadership has banished any statements in authorization bills relating to a desired amount of future funding, in keeping with their commitment to reduce the federal deficit. So the conferenced COMPETES bill is silent on funding levels for any specific program, as well as for the agencies as a whole. Senate leaders are hoping to win passage this week of the bill, which as of this morning had not been publicly posted on a government website. Its prospects are less clear in the House. And its status could be affected by how soon Congress adopts an extension of the spending freeze that applies to the current budgets of every agency. Science lobbyists are still parsing the language. But some are already reacting more favorably than they did to earlier versions, which they regarded as worse than no bill at all. According to a spokesperson for the Association of American Universities based in Washington, D.C., the compromise “balances and takes into account input provided by the university community while at the same time addressing major congressional issues and concerns.” NSF is not officially commenting on the bill. But one agency official who requested anonymity said there are no poison pills in it, and that much of the bill seems to offer support for things NSF is already doing. The bill also addresses several issues that have spurred sharp debate in recent years. NSF’s flawed oversight of the National Ecological Observatory Network, for example, has led to tighter oversight of large facilities. Congressional displeasure with the large salaries of some academic scientists, called rotators, coming to NSF for stints of 2 to 4 years has prompted new reporting requirements. But other issues transcend the agency, like reducing the administrative burden on universities receiving federal funds, policing scientific misconduct, and allowing for travel to scientific conferences.


News Article | December 16, 2015
Site: www.nature.com

Paris deal done Negotiations at the Paris climate-change talks sealed a deal between 195 nations to limit warming to “well below” 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures. The 32-page package was made on 12 December after 2 weeks of talks, and commits most nations to significant reductions in carbon emissions. The agreement notes that vulnerable low-lying countries are set to face rising sea levels and stronger storms. See page 315 for more. Open-data accord Four international science lobby groups have launched a joint accord supporting open data as a tool for more-equitable science. The initiative, announced on 9 December in Pretoria during the first Science Forum South Africa, attempts to make it easier for developing countries to participate in research on a global level. It is also the first attempt to unify the fragmented activities of the four bodies, which represent different disciplines and global regions: the International Council for Science, the InterAcademy Partnership, the International Social Science Council and the World Academy of Sciences. Venus probe enters orbit Japan’s Akatsuki probe is circling Venus on an even-closer orbit than mission managers had hoped for, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced on 9 December. In 2010, Akatsuki missed its first chance to enter into orbit; it made a second, successful attempt this month. At its closest approach, the probe will fly just 400 kilometres above Venus’s surface, from which point researchers aim to study the planet’s atmosphere. Three of the craft’s five cameras have already been confirmed as functional after their extra five years in space. This image was taken by the ultraviolet imager from about 72,000 kilometres above Venus’s surface. EU data-mining The European Commission confirmed on 9 December that it wants to propose legislation to exempt certain types of text and data mining from copyright laws. As part of wider copyright reform, public-interest research organizations would be allowed to mine text and data from journal articles for research purposes without having to ask permission from the copyright owner. Researchers worried about legal restrictions on the data mining have long campaigned for the change. Gain of function The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity will convene on 7 January in Bethesda, Maryland, to assess the risks and benefits of ‘gain-of-function’ research — work intended to increase the virulence, transmissibility or host range of pathogens. The meeting will consider the findings of a 1,006-page risk–benefit assessment by the Gryphon Scientific consultancy in Takoma Park, Maryland, published on 11 December. The United States introduced a moratorium in October last year on federal funding of such research on the agents that cause influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). AIDS funding cut In a readjustment of priorities announced on 11 December, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will no longer put 10% of its science budget towards AIDS research, overturning a requirement of more than 20 years. The policy has been controversial, with opponents arguing that the number of HIV/AIDS deaths dropped precipitously during this time. The NIH director’s advisory council said that, as existing grants end, the move will eventually free up hundreds of millions of dollars for research on other diseases. The agency will refocus its remaining AIDS budget away from basic biology and towards the creation of specific therapies and vaccines. Animal names safe Thanks to gifts totalling S$1.35 million (US$959,000), the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) secretariat will be able to continue its role of ensuring that animal species are named in a systematic fashion. The commission had been facing insolvency. Based at the National University of Singapore, the ICZN enforces a globally accepted nomenclature code to ensure that each species has a unique and scientifically appropriate name; around 15,000 new species are described annually. The philanthropic Lee Foundation in Singapore provided nearly all of the endowment, the ICZN announced on 14 December in Berlin at a joint meeting with the International Union of Biological Sciences. DOE science chief Cherry Murray, a physicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be the new director of the US Department of Energy (DOE) science office. The US Senate confirmed her appointment on 10 December. The decision is considered surprising because most recent federal appointments have been blocked by the Senate — the previous nominee for the office, Michael Kastner, was not confirmed after his 2013 nomination. Murray, an expert in condensed-matter physics and photonics, will take office this month. Stellarator is go The world’s largest ‘stellarator’ fusion device roared into life on 10 December. The €1-billion (US$1.1-billion) Wendelstein 7-X, based at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany, produced its first plasma (pictured), lasting for one-tenth of a second and reaching a temperature of around 1 million °C. Although the test run used helium, next year the device will start superheating hydrogen in experiments designed to explore the suitability of the technique for commercial fusion. The stellarator confines ionized gas using intricately interwoven magnetic coils. The design is difficult to construct but potentially a more stable alternative to the doughnut-shaped ‘tokamak’ used by the international ITER fusion project, based in southern France. NEON Inc. out The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has decided to replace the manager of the beleaguered US$434 million National Ecological Observatory Network, the company NEON, Inc. The decision comes after the company told the NSF in June that it was running $80 million over budget. That triggered a congressional hearing and warning from NSF that it might oust NEON, Inc. in favour of another operator. The construction of the remaining observatory sites will probably be overseen by another company. Chemicals combine Two of the world’s largest chemical and agricultural companies, Dow Chemical of Midland, Michigan, and DuPont of Wilmington, Delaware, will attempt to merge. On 11 December, the companies announced that subject to regulatory approval, they would combine forces to create a firm valued at US$130 billion. That would then break apart into three independent companies: one focused on agriculture, another on materials science and the third on speciality products. Dengue vaccine The first vaccine for preventing the tropical disease dengue fever has been approved for use in Mexico. The vaccine, Dengvaxia, developed by Sanofi Pasteur of Lyon, France, was approved on 9 December by Mexico for patients aged 9 to 45 who live in areas where dengue is endemic. The viral infection is carried by mosquitos, and the number of infections worldwide has risen rapidly in recent years. The vaccine protects against the four variants of the dengue virus, and was approved after a clinical-development programme that involved more than 40,000 people in 15 countries. Open intelligence A group of individuals and companies from Silicon Valley in California have formed a non-profit company to research artificial intelligence (AI) that is “likely to benefit humanity as a whole”. The company, OpenAI, has raised US$1 billion and is co-chaired by Elon Musk, chief executive of the electric-car company Tesla Motors and private space-flight firm SpaceX. Musk has previously urged caution when it comes to AI, warning that it could become “more dangerous than nukes”. The source of tantalum, a metal used in the electronics industry and for specialized mechanical parts, has shifted dramatically since 2000, according to a US Geological Survey report. In 2000, Australia was the world’s main source of tantalum (producing 45%), but in 2014 Rwanda produced most (50%). Tantalum is a ‘conflict mineral’, meaning that its sale may finance conflict in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and buyers must check the metal’s source. See go.nature.com/wog3zu for more. The upper estimate on how many pieces of plastic smaller than 5 millimetres across had accumulated in the world’s oceans by 2014. The lower estimate is 15 trillion. Source: E. van Sebille et al. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 124006 (2015). 18–21 December The European Society for Medical Oncology holds its Asia Congress in Singapore. go.nature.com/6vwgoh 19–22 December The International Liposome Society gathers its members at University College London to discuss the use of liposomes in drug and vaccine delivery. go.nature.com/jmj6uy


Newman G.,Colorado State University | Wiggins A.,University of New Mexico | Crall A.,Colorado State University | Graham E.,University of California at Los Angeles | And 2 more authors.
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment | Year: 2012

Citizen science creates a nexus between science and education that, when coupled with emerging technologies, expands the frontiers of ecological research and public engagement. Using representative technologies and other examples, we examine the future of citizen science in terms of its research processes, program and participant cultures, and scientific communities. Future citizen-science projects will likely be influenced by sociocultural issues related to new technologies and will continue to face practical programmatic challenges. We foresee networked, open science and the use of online computer/video gaming as important tools to engage non-traditional audiences, and offer recommendations to help prepare project managers for impending challenges. A more formalized citizen-science enterprise, complete with networked organizations, associations, journals, and cyberinfrastructure, will advance scientific research, including ecology, and further public education. © The Ecological Society of America.


Huryn A.D.,University of Alabama | Benstead J.P.,National Ecological Observatory Network | Parker S.M.,National Ecological Observatory Network
Ecology | Year: 2014

Light and temperature are key ecosystem drivers, but their synchronous annual cycles typically confound partitioning of their relative influence. Arctic spring-streams, subject to extreme annual fluctuations in light but stable water temperatures, provide a rare contrast that allows the parsing of their independent effects. Over 30 months, we assessed the effects of light and temperature on ecosystem metabolism and nutrient uptake in Ivishak Spring, Alaska, USA. (latitude 69°N, water temperature range ∼4°-7°C) using open-channel methods and short-term NH4 +-N, NO3 --N, and P additions, respectively. We predicted that rates of ecosystem respiration (ER) would mirror seasonal patterns of gross primary production (GPP), rather than temperature, due to relatively constant rates of metabolic demand year-round, resulting in carbon limitation during winter (October-March) when photosynthesis effectively ceases. Because patterns of nutrient uptake and GPP are often coupled due to assimilatory demand, we also predicted that extreme annual cycles of light would result in equally extreme cycles of nutrient uptake, with demand being relaxed during winter. In accordance with our prediction, we found that ER scaled linearly with GPP. Peak summer rates of GPP (>4.0 g C·m-2·d-1) and ER (>5.0 g C·m-2·d-1) were surprisingly high, being comparable to those of productive streams at temperate latitudes. Winter rates (GPP ∼0.0, ER<1.0 g C ·m-2·d-1) were low, however, and Arrhenius plots showed clear deviations from theoretical temperature dependence of GPP and ER during winter when other factors assumed primacy. For GPP, this factor was undoubtedly light availability, but for ER, carbon limitation is implicated due to low GPP. Significant nutrient uptake occurred only for NH4 +-N, indicating N limitation, and rates of uptake were also synchronous with cycles of light availability. Consequently, light, rather than temperature, was the major driver of annual patterns of ER and nutrient cycles in this arctic ecosystem. Synchronous light and temperature cycles are pervasive among ecosystems. The winter onset and severity of energy limitation we document highlights the importance of this synchrony and how the confounding of light and temperature obscures details of mechanisms by which these fundamental drivers affect ecosystem processes. © 2014 by the Ecological Society of America.


White E.P.,Utah State University | Thibault K.M.,Utah State University | Thibault K.M.,National Ecological Observatory Network | Xiao X.,Utah State University
Ecology | Year: 2012

The species abundance distribution (SAD) is one of the most studied patterns in ecology due to its potential insights into commonness and rarity, community assembly, and patterns of biodiversity. It is well established that communities are composed of a few common and many rare species, and numerous theoretical models have been proposed to explain this pattern. However, no attempt has been made to determine how well these theoretical characterizations capture observed taxonomic and global-scale spatial variation in the general form of the distribution. Here, using data of a scope unprecedented in community ecology, we show that a simple maximum entropy model produces a truncated log-series distribution that can predict between 83% and 93% of the observed variation in the rank abundance of species across 15 848 globally distributed communities including birds, mammals, plants, and butterflies. This model requires knowledge of only the species richness and total abundance of the community to predict the full abundance distribution, which suggests that these factors are sufficient to understand the distribution for most purposes. Since geographic patterns in richness and abundance can often be successfully modeled, this approach should allow the distribution of commonness and rarity to be characterized, even in locations where empirical data are unavailable. © 2012 by the Ecological Society of America.


Wasser L.,Pennsylvania State University | Wasser L.,National Ecological Observatory Network | Day R.,Pennsylvania State University | Chasmer L.,Wilfrid Laurier University | Taylor A.,Pennsylvania State University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Estimates of canopy height (H) and fractional canopy cover (FC) derived from lidar data collected during leaf-on and leaf-off conditions are compared with field measurements from 80 forested riparian buffer plots. The purpose is to determine if existing lidar data flown in leaf-off conditions for applications such as terrain mapping can effectively estimate forested riparian buffer H and FC within a range of riparian vegetation types. Results illustrate that: 1) leaf-off and leaf-on lidar percentile estimates are similar to measured heights in all plots except those dominated by deciduous compound-leaved trees where lidar underestimates H during leaf off periods; 2) canopy height models (CHMs) underestimate H by a larger margin compared to percentile methods and are influenced by vegetation type (conifer needle, deciduous simple leaf or deciduous compound leaf) and canopy height variability, 3) lidar estimates of FC are within 10% of plot measurements during leaf-on periods, but are underestimated during leaf-off periods except in mixed and conifer plots; and 4) depth of laser pulse penetration lower in the canopy is more variable compared to top of the canopy penetration which may influence within canopy vegetation structure estimates. This study demonstrates that leaf-off lidar data can be used to estimate forested riparian buffer canopy height within diverse vegetation conditions and fractional canopy cover within mixed and conifer forests when leaf-on lidar data are not available. © 2013 Wasser et al.


Goodman K.J.,National Ecological Observatory Network | Goodman K.J.,Utah State University | Baker M.A.,National Ecological Observatory Network | Wurtsbaugh W.A.,Utah State University
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences | Year: 2011

Lakes within fluvial networks may affect dissolved organic matter (DOM) dynamics in streams by dampening spring DOM snowmelt flushing responses and/or by increasing summer DOM production. We assessed the temporal variability of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration and DOM characteristics (specific ultraviolet absorbance (SUVA254); DOC:dissolved organic nitrogen (DOC:DON)), as well as DOC export in seven paired lake inflows and outflows in the Sawtooth Mountain lake district, Idaho. We hypothesized that lakes would decrease stream DOM temporal variability and increase DOM export as a result of autotrophic production. We correlated DOM variability with landscape factors to evaluate potential drivers of DOM temporal patterns (measured as coefficient of variation). Coefficients of variation were 40-90% higher in lake inflows than outflows for DOC concentrations, characteristics, and DOC:DON. Increases in DOC concentrations on the ascending limb of the snowmelt hydrograph were greater in lake inflows than outflows, and on average mean DOC flux occurred 5.4 days earlier in the inflows than for the outflows. During base flow, mean outflow DOC concentrations were 1.7 times greater than inflows, and six outflows had higher annual export than inflows. Combined, these results illustrate that lakes alter the magnitude, timing and temporal variation of DOM concentration and characteristics exported from subalpine watersheds. This buffering effect results from a seasonal shift in the balance between hydrological versus biological controls on DOC dynamics, where lakes act as a sink during the spring when hydrologic controls dominate watershed DOM transport and act as a DOM source during summer. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

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