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Weslaco, TX, United States

Fleischman F.,Texas AgriLife Research Center
Regional Environmental Change | Year: 2015

Forest administrators play a crucial role in translating conservation and development policies into action, yet policy reformers and scholars rarely examine how these administrators make decisions about the implementation of conservation and development policy in India. In this paper, I address this gap. I begin by developing a framework that draws on Western policy implementation studies and Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development framework and then apply this framework to a review of published studies that examine the role of forest officials in implementing public policies in India. The framework differentiates between formal and informal institutions and between institutions which are developed within an agency and those that are directed from outside the agency. I find that forester behavior varies significantly across space and time and has an important influence on the outcome of forestry programs. Innovations and excellent program implementation appear related to foresters’ desire to demonstrate professional efficacy. On the other hand, many failings can be traced either to external direction or to foresters developing internal institutions that are poorly suited to the problems they are tasked with solving. Existing research is limited in its geographic and temporal scope and leaves many questions unanswered, and thus, the review concludes with a brief outline of future research needs. © 2015 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg Source

Srinivasan R.,Texas AgriLife Research Center
Advances in Materials Science and Engineering | Year: 2011

Natural clays are abundantly available low-cost natural resource which is nontoxic to ecosystem. Over the recent years, research on the modification of clay to increase their adsorbent capacity to remove other contaminants from drinking water other than metals is in progress. This paper reviews the recent development of natural clays and their modified forms as adsorbing agents for treating drinking water and their sources. This paper describes the versatile nature of natural clay and their ability to adsorb variety of contaminants ranging from inorganic to emerging, which are present in the drinking water. The properties and modification of the natural clay and its significance in removing a specific type of contaminant are described. The adsorbing efficiency of the natural and modified clay in the purification of drinking water, when compared to existing technologies, materials, and methods was found to be significantly higher or comparable. Copyright © 2011 Rajani Srinivasan. Source

Muir J.P.,Texas AgriLife Research Center
Small Ruminant Research | Year: 2011

This manuscript seeks to summarize much, but by no means all, we already know about condensed tannins (CT) in goat ecosystems. Herbage CT influences much more than simply nutrition. From before the goat ingests the herbage, to what it selects, how it interacts with the rumen environment and the rest of the ruminant gastro-intestinal tract (GIT), to even the fecal environment and the soil to which it eventually returns, the picture is fascinatingly complex. A decade ago most goat scientists thought we knew all there was to know about CT and the goat; yet today we realize that we learn something new each time we examine both the broad picture as well as the details that comprise that picture. What we have yet to uncover may be vastly more important and involved than what we already know. The world that herbage CT and goats share is only gradually revealing itself, waiting for scientists of all disciplines to turn the next page in our quest for a complete understanding of the multiple roles CT play in the goat ecosystem. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ADVANCES IN BIO INFORMATICS | Award Amount: 143.13K | Year: 2016

Phages, the viruses of bacteria, are the most numerous genetic entities in the biosphere, outnumbering bacteria by 10-100-fold, and contain most of its DNA diversity. Phage biology is a driver in global ecology and in the global dynamics of gene transfer. Phages, as the natural predators of bacteria, have recognized potential as antibacterial agents, both in human health and in animal husbandry and agriculture. Phages, because they can be restricted to specific bacterial species or genera, represent the only currently available tool for manipulating the diverse populations of bacteria in microbiomes, now known to be an essential component of health and development. Despite all of these factors, only a tiny fraction of phage biodiversity is captured by sequenced genomes; in fact, phages are by far the most under-sequenced genetic entity. As Next Generation Sequencing advances, the flow of phage DNA sequence is going to increase enormously. However, phage genomes represent special problems in genomic analysis, in part because of biological factors, including rapid sequence divergence, the compression of gene sizes and extensive gene overlap. Even more problematic is the general lack of expertise in phage biology, which makes quality annotation of phage genomes inaccessible to most of the scientific public.

The project will implement scalable infrastructure for bioinformatics analyses, focusing on the automated structural and functional annotation of phages. Publicly accessible infrastructure will be developed and deployed, from new and existing components to support community re-annotation of paradigm phages into gold standard curated annotation sets. Additionally the infrastructure will develop components focused on the acquisition and annotation of new phage genomes going forward, as the field of bacteriophage genomics rapidly expands. Tools will be developed and released encoding expert annotation knowledge to improve the state of the art in automated, quality, phage annotation. The entire project will be developed as open source software under an OSI approved license, permitting the re-implementation of the projects infrastructure in other genome annotation communities where it will provide value. Phage Genomics Education resources developed as part of our well-established course in Phage Genomics at TAMU will be improved to take advantage of the new community resources being built. As implementation progresses, the infrastructure deployed and progress updates will be available at https://cpt.tamu.edu/phagedb/

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ECOSYSTEM STUDIES | Award Amount: 19.30K | Year: 2016

Lands that receive small amounts of rain or snow occupy approximately 40% of the Earths land surface. Large portions of these areas are experiencing a replacement of plants that are mostly grasses with increased numbers of trees and shrubs. This change generally increases the amount of carbon found in both plants and soils, and impacts how other elements that are important for plant growth, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are used; carbon accumulation may also impact climate. Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that often limit the rates at which plants grow, and the supply of one or the other can affect other elements. Despite the importance of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in plants and soils, very few studies have been conducted that consider all three elements together in dry landscapes, where the numbers of trees and shrubs are increasing. This project will measure patterns of storage of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus within the soils in areas where trees and shrubs have largely replaced grasses. The results will provide knowledge on why trees and shrubs are replacing grasses and what these changes mean for those environments. The information gained by this research will be used to improve mathematical models that describe the interactions of climate and nutrient cycles that in turn can inform the conservation and management of these dry lands. Educational materials about the research will be prepared for the general public in cooperation with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program.

Modification of soil nutrient pool sizes following woody proliferation has long been of interest to grassland, savanna, and desert ecologists. However, most previous studies examining nutrient dynamics following woody encroachment have been confined to small spatial scales, limited to the uppermost portions of the soil profile, and focused primarily on C and/or N. This research will quantify soil organic C, total N, and total P throughout the entire soil profile in order to make the first assessment of landscape-scale C:N:P soil stoichiometry following woody plant encroachment into grassland. Specific objectives are: (1) Examine whether vegetation cover change alters the 3-dimensional spatial patterns of soil C, N, and P storage at the landscape scale; and (2) Test whether soil P scales isometrically with respect to C and N, and whether these isometric patterns change with soil depth in N-fixer encroached systems. Nutrient stores will be quantified in spatially-specific soil cores taken to a depth of 1.2 meters in a subtropical savanna landscape where N-fixing woody plants have encroached into grasslands during the past century. Results will offer new perceptions on the effects of woody encroachment on interactions between C, N, and P cycles in arid and semi-arid ecosystems across the globe, and enhance our ability to represent these interactions in linked biogeochemistry-climate models.

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