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Niwot LTER News / News Article ...

October 28, 2014

Persistence pays off for an REU student researching change in the alpine

Have you ever wondered what a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) with the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network can do for a student? Well, Adam Formica can tell you. Now a Kellett Fellow in Geography at the University of Oxford, Formica is first author on a recent paper showcasing his REU project on a dramatic case of willow growth in the alpine, a project he credits for helping to shape his career trajectory.

Former REU student Adam Formica kneels near International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) chambers at the Niwot Ridge (NWT) LTER. Data from ITEX chambers were key to Formica's recent publication on alpine willow encroachment.

Former REU student Adam Formica kneels near International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) chambers at the Niwot Ridge (NWT) LTER. Data from ITEX chambers were key to Formica's recent publication on alpine willow encroachment.

News Story

Formica undertook his formative REU in the lab of Katharine Suding, incoming lead scientist for the Niwot Ridge (NWT) LTER and associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO) and the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU). The Suding lab uses experimental manipulations of snowpack, temperature and nitrogen deposition to understand changes in alpine vegetation, including the recent rash of willows on the Niwot Ridge.

“The increase in willow cover on Niwot is the most substantial vegetation change that has occurred at the site over the last several decades,” said Suding. “By combining long-term patterns with experiments, Adam was able to show that willow growth is likely due to changes in land use and the environment corresponding to the termination of grazing by sheep and the increase in both nitrogen deposition and snow.” The paper by Formica, Suding and colleagues traces six decades of alpine willow expansion (http://dx.doi.org/10.1657/1938-4246-46.3.616). It was published this year in the peer-reviewed journal Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research.

Source: (LTER) Network News


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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-1637686. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necesarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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