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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

Understanding the ecological effects of reductions in biodiversity is at the forefront of ecological research. However, the importance of intraspecific genetic diversity to ecosystem functioning is poorly understood. Recent work demonstrates that genetic diversity within a foundation forest species, Populus tremuloides, can have large influences on ecological processes, especially carbon and nitrogen cycling. We propose to use remote sensing to measure the genetic diversity of P. tremuloides forests across multiple ecoregions. Our goal is to combine remotely sensed data with ground-truthed genetic and soil microbial data to better understand the patterns and consequences of forest genetic diversity across natural landscapes. Trembling aspen (P. tremuloides) is a dominant, early successional species that plays major ecological and economic roles in forests throughout western and north-temperate North America. We will combine Landsat and hyperspectral data with genetic, chemical, and microbial data to build predictive models of fundamental ecological processes. Our overall goal is to quantify forest intraspecific genetic diversity, and associated belowground microbial diversity and function, using remotely sensed data. Declining biodiversity is among the most important environmental issues facing society. Despite decades of research, the large-scale patterns and consequences of forest genetic diversity are unknown. Our current knowledge gaps are due, in large part, to the technical difficulties inherent in sampling large spatial areas for fine-scale information (e.g., plant genotype). We propose to bridge this gap in trembling aspen forests, a dominant, ecologically and economically important ecosystem, using a combination of remotely-sensed and ground-truthed data.

Project PI: Michael Madritch/Appalachian State University

Department of Biology Appalachian State University 572 Rivers Street Boone, NC 28608

Phone: (828)262-7793

Email: madritchmd@appstate.edu

http://www.appstate.edu/~madritchmd/

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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 10, 2010

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