Research Projects

Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network I am the lead PI of the Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network, which is funded by the Coupled Natural-Human Systems Dynamics program of NSF and is entitled “Bridging Communities and Scales Through a Global Transdisciplinary Mountain Sustainability Network”.   Co-PIs on this project are Dr. Nolin, a snow hydrologist at University of Nevada, Dr. Tucker, an anthropologist at University of Florida, and Dr. Reid, Director of the Center for Collaborative Conservation at CSU.  We have approximately 300 members worldwide. Our major goals are to:

  1. Expand an international network of linked mountain biophysical & social science researchers and diverse stakeholders.
  2. Explore & evaluate transdisciplinary modeling frameworks for mountains globally.
  3. Promote international, transdisciplinary approaches linking science with policy & practice.

Ecosystem and Herder Vulnerability to Extreme Weather Events, Climate Warming and Natural Resource Policies on the Tibetan Plateau  I was lead PI on this NSF funded project,  along with Dr. Emily Yeh (CU Boulder), Dennis Ojima (CSU), Kathleen Galvin (CSU) and Randall Boone (CSU).   The main objective of this project was to investigate Tibetan ecosystem and pastoralist vulnerability to spring snowstorms and climatic changes and to examine the short and longer term social and ecological implications of these climatic changes in the context of other land management and policy changes in the region.  The work combined an experimental climate change manipulation, investigation of local knowledge and vulnerability, landscape sampling, GIS, and political ecology.

The International Tundra Experiment Project (ITEX) ITEX is a global coordinated warming experiment across arctic and alpine sites.  I have been involved with the ITEX network since 1998.  I started the first climate change experiment on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau using open-top chambers and also have an on-going project in central Tibet.

Nutnet at the Shortgrass Steppe, Colorado.  The Nutrient Network (NutNet) is a coordinated grassroots research effort comprised of more than 130 grassland sites worldwide.  I work with Drs. Cynthia Brown, Professor in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences & Pest Management at CSU and Dana Blumenthal from USDA-ARS at the shortgrass steppe site, which is a long-term agricultural research site. NutNet focal research questions include:

  1. How general is our current understanding of productivity-diversity relationships
  2. To what extent are plant production and diversity co-limited by multiple nutrients in herbaceous-dominated communities?
  3. Under what conditions do grazers or fertilization control plant biomass, diversity, and composition?

Alpine Treeline Warming Experiment at Niwot Ridge, Colorado The Alpine-Treeline Warming Experiment was installed in 2008-2009 on Niwot Ridge above Boulder, Colorado. It used infrared heaters to warm soil and plant surfaces by an amount comparable to current average projections of climate warming in the year 2100. Led by Dr. Lara Kueppers from UC Berkeley, there were three basic questions investigators hoped to answer with the project:

  1. Will subalpine trees, currently restricted from cooler, higher elevations, move into alpine habitat and replace alpine plant species as a result of climate warming?
  2. Will subalpine trees be stressed by warmer temperatures and be less successful in their existing elevational ranges as a result of climate warming?
  3. Will ecosystem properties modify the effects of climate warming on subalpine or alpine species within and beyond their current elevational ranges?

I worked with Dr. Kueppers and Dr. Yan Yang (Chinese Academy of Sciences) on the alpine warming and watering part of the project.   Specifically, we investigated belowground NPP responses to warming and watering and how above and belowground plant traits mediated system responses.

African Sky Forests: Services, Threats and Management Recommendations.  This project is a collaboration with Dr. Aida Cuni-Sanchez and Doctor Robert Marchant and is funded by an EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action.  Dr. Cuni-Sanchez is the project lead.  This project is transdisciplinary collaboration, that includes assessment of ecosystem services among different resource user groups and ethnic groups within West African mountains of Cameroon and D.R. Congo.  Work also involves development of agent-based models.  The project also entails an assessment of transdisciplinary research and practice across Africa.  Dr. Cuni-Sanchez is also supported by a National Geographic Grant.

Community-based Pastoral Management in China and Mongolia .