Our Student Researchers

Cao

Gloria Cao

Gloria is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Gloria is working with Scott Bradfield of CSU’s Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department to determine the effect of heat stress on the perennial grasses at shortgrass stations.

Casini-Ropa

Angie Casini-Ropa

Angie Casini-Ropa is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Angie is working with Matthew Collins of CSU’s Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department to determine the public perception on the effectiveness of non-lethal methods to mitigate human-carnivore conflicts.

Chen

Lu Chen

Lu Chen is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Lu is working with Camille Stevens-Rumann of CSU’s Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department to study post-wildfire tree regeneration in a range of forest types.

Collier

Arielle Collier

Arielle is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Arielle is working with Anna Clare Monlezun of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability to determine how grazing management affects plant biodiversity at four Colorado Front Range locations.

Fang

Yuanxing Fang

Yuanxing Fang is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Yuanxing is working with Dr. Stacy Lynn and Dr. Greg Newman of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and CitSci.org, to analyze civic science participant motivations for joining The Land Institute’s (TLI) civic science programs, and to assess participant needs for creating a demand-driven platform interface and TLI mobile app.

Granados

Marisa Granados

Marisa Granados is a Junior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Marisa is working with Camille Stevens-Rumann of CSU’s Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship to study the effects of forest thinning treatments on returning Front Range forests to historic structures.

Hargis

Aaron Hargis

Aaron Hargis is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability with a Sustainable Water Minor. Aaron is working with Nick Gubbins of CSU’s Watershed Science Department to explore how water quantity changes following a watershed wildfire. Aaron’s project takes years of USGS daily streamflow data to look at the magnitude and direction of these changes.

Hynes

Fiona Hynes

Fiona Hynes is a Junior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Fiona is working with Matthew Collins of CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Niemiec Lab. Fiona’s project aims to evaluate the effects of community collaboratives on human and wolf relationships in the American West.

Jacobs

John Jacobs

John Jacobs is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. John is working with Dr. Catherine Stewart and Dr. Grace Miner of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research Unit. John’s project aims to explore the potential impacts of a changing climate on one of modern agriculture’s oldest and largest cornerstones; wheat. Using climate data and wheat yield data from the past, our project aims to inform stakeholders about the best management practices that will hopefully allow them to better prepare for the uncertainty of the future.

Jenkins

Emily Jenkins

Emily is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Emily is working with Veronica Champine of CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and part of the research team working with CSU professor Rebecca Niemiec. Emily’s project aims to identify motivators and barriers of native plant gardening and advocacy in the Front Range of Colorado.

Jiang

Yurun Jiang

Yurun Jiang is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Yurun is working with Amy Burzynski of CSU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) to research the potential impact of climate change for future fire behavior in the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii.

Klisauskaite

Jorune Klisauskaite

Jorune Klisauskaite is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Jorune is working with Dr. Anthony Vorster of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and co-mentor Sarah Osborne at the Colorado State Forest Service to determine pre-fire forest treatment characteristics within the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fires.

Linenberg

Jenna Linenberg

Jenna Linenberg is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Jenna is working with Mireille Gonzalez of CSU’s Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department to understand and address social conflict surrounding reintroduction of grey wolves in Colorado.

Lipscomb

Zoe Lipscomb

Zoe Lipscomb is a Sophomore studying Forest and Rangeland Stewardship and Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Zoe is working with Scott Bradfield of CSU’s Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Departement to determine the effect of drought conditions on Bouteloua Gracilis, a perennial grass common on the shortgrass steppe.

Liu.Reynold

Reynold Liu

Reynold Liu is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Reynold is working with Chris Dorich of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology, mainly applying R codes to identify multiple variables that affect nitrous oxide emissions. This will help to target ways to reduce its emissions and impact.

Liu Yuxiang

Yuxiang Liu

Yuxiang Liu is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Yuxiang is working with Dr. Catherine Stewart of USDA Agricultural Research Service. Yuxiang’s project is focusing on analyzing the relationship between climate and yield of multiple varieties of winter wheat.

Manning

Cory Manning

Cory Manning is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. He is working with Veronica Champine of CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources to study social diffusion trends related to motivators and barriers of participating in native plant gardening behaviors. Wildscaping is important socio-ecological work that will facilitate sustainable change in urban areas, and using qualitative data to figure out how to more efficiently and effectively support wildscaping is important for local change.

Montagne

Meghan Montagne

Meghan Montagne is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability with a minor in Environmental Affairs. Meghan is working with Dr. Greg Newman and Dr. Stacy Lynn of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and CitSci.org to analyze the use of technology in the civic science data collection process. CitSci.org is partnered with The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas to create an application to streamline data collection for civic scientists participating in their perennial grain programs. This work is necessary to increase engagement and participation in civic science programs.

Montelongo

Mateo Montelongo

Mateo Montelongo is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Mateo is working with Chris Dorich of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory to identify different variables that impact Nitrous Oxide (N2O) emissions through R coding, thereby finding ways to forecast N2O and identity ways to reduce the N2O footprint.

Pierson

Megan Pierson

Megan Pierson is a Sophomore studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability with minors in Ecological Restoration and Zoology. Megan is working with Dr. Jill Baron of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and the US Geological Survey to quantify CSU’s nitrogen footprint and identify potential pathways for reduction.

Rugg

Rebecca Rugg

Rebecca Rugg is a Sophomore studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Rebecca is working with Mireille Gonzalez of CSU’s Human Dimensions of Natural Resources to research public perception regarding wolf reintroduction in Colorado through environmental education.

Sanford

Cody Sanford

Cody Sanford is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Cody is working with Dr. Jill Baron of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and the US Geological Survey to quantify CSU’s nitrogen footprint and develop nitrogen reduction strategies.

Steffen

Kristin Steffen

Kristin Steffen is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Kristin is working with Dr. Greg Newman and Dr. Stacy Lynn of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and CitSci.org to study growers’ motivations to participate in citizen science. CitSci.org is partnered with The Land Institute to create a data collection platform and app to be used for their perennial grain projects. This work is important to increase participation and engagement with civic science projects.

Tausan

Brock Tausan

Brock Tausan is a Senior studying Watershed Science. Brock is working with Nick Gubbins, a graduate student studying Watershed Science in CSU’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. He is using R programming software to do large scale research on the drivers of Chlorophyll-a using data from LAGOS-NE.

Thomas

Sophia Thomas

Sophia Thomas is a Junior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability with a minor in English. Sophia is working with Anna Clare Monlezun of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability to investigate how cattle grazing affects forage quality in Colorado Front Range Government-owned lands.

Villars

Casey Villars

Casey Villars is a Senior studying Watershed Science. Casey is working with Nick Gubbins, a Watershed Science PhD Student with CSU’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability.  They are investigating how river structure influences stream metabolism in Colorado and Florida streams and rivers, quantifying the magnitude of differences between stream orders using the R programming language and stream metabolism data hosted on the StreamPULSE project.

Xue

Frank Xue

Frank Xue is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Frank is working with Scott Bradfield of CSU’s Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department to experimentally determine the effect of heat stress on perennial grasses at shortgrass field stations.

zeng

Xi Zeng

Xi Zeng is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Xi is working with Amy Burzynski of CSU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) to research the potential impact of climate change on future fire behavior in the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii.

zhang

Mengfei Zhang

Mengfei Zhang is a Senior studying Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Mengfei is working with Dr. Anthony Vorster of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and co-mentor Sarah Osborne at the Colorado State Forest Service to research pre-fire treatment characteristics in the Calwood fire, Colorado.

Emma Balunek worked with David Anderson from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program on their priority area survey project of Colorado’s newest state park, Fishers Peak.

WINNER: 2020 CSU Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium “Highest Honors Award!”

Lauren Beu worked on a research project with mentor Julie Heinrichs titled Historical and Future Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation, which focused on what types of treatments were implemented to conserve Gunnison sage-grouse in Colorado and how effective they were. The goal was to help conservation practitioners make decisions on how to best protect this species in the future.

Ryan Bridges and his mentor, Dr. Jonathan Salerno in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, were conducting a research project called “Understanding Rainy Season Onset and Cessation in Two Local Sites in Western Uganda”.

WINNER: 2020 CSU Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium “Best in Show Award” AND second place “Energy Institute Award”!

Lina Cao’s project focused on the relationship between carbon and nitrogen by comparing unfertilized Kernza-alfalfa, unfertilized Kernza and Kernza with fertilization. Kernza was a perennial wheat that was developed The Land Institute in Salina, KS. Her mentor was Laura Van der Pol, a PhD student in the Department of Soil and Crop Science.

Daniel Dominguez worked with Ph.D. candidate Allison Rhea studying the short-term deployment of In-Situ sondes (water probes) and used citizen science to build a baseline for water quality parameters on the Poudre River Watershed.

Hunter Dowdle and his mentor, Rachel Kanaziz, guided him through the research process of creating his first project titled, The Activity Budget of Adolescent Red Foxes, which is a study that used remote camera traps to document fox behavior.

Dustin Fox was mentored by Wade Tinkhamand Neil Swayze in the project Multispectral Burn Severity Analysis: Boy Scout Ranch.

Sienna Levine worked on a research project with Ryleigh Gelles, a Master’s student in the department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, on changes in bee phenology across wildfire and fuels reduction treatments in Boulder County.

Chenfan Li and her two mentors, Dr. Gillian Bowser and her Master’s student Sarah Whipple, she researched the relationship  between  ant  species richness  and  elevation  in  Yellowstone National Park. They hoped  to  find  how  global changing affects the elevation’s temperature and ant habitat.

WINNER: 2020 CSU Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium “College Honors Award!”

Meijia Li worked on a research project with Dr. John Moore exploring the possible mechanism of Pandoraea microbes inhibiting the Burkholderia bacteria in rice crop root systems.

Muyao Li conducted a research project exploring the problems of sagebrush seeding treatments associated with sagebrush steppe restoration in the western United States from 1940 to 2018. She worked with the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Adrian Monroe.

Rui Li worked on with Anna Marshall, his mentor, on quantifying how hyporrheic exchange flow changes in relation to increasing channel complexity associated with channel-spanning logjams.

Marissa Lopez conducted her research with Tim Weinmann, a Graduate Degree Program in Ecology student in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and US Geological Survey. They studied nitrogen addition impacts on soil organic matter in the Loch Vale Watershed of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Tongtong Ma and her mentors, Dr. Gillian Bowser and Master’s student Sarah Whipplem, worked on finding the effect of glacier retreat on water quality in Peru, with shrimp as the ecological indicator.

Damian Moya conducted his project on Pronghorn Management using Water Guzzlers with Jennie Anderson as his mentor at the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML).

WINNER: 2020 CSU Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium “Best in Show Award!”

Nie Nie studied the effects of different vegetation types on fire severity. Her mentors were Dr. Wade Tinkham, Neal Swayze and Matthew Creasy.

Sierra Simpson and her mentor, Mireille (Ray) Gonzalez, worked on a project focusing on the Social science perspective of wolf reintroduction in Colorado.

WINNER: 2020 CSU Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium “High Honors Award!”

McKenleigh Spitler was a research assistant for Dr. Jill Baron studying the timing of ice-on and ice-off in Loch Vale, Rocky Mountain National Park, through assessment of repeat photography. She shared a passion for sustainability and ecological conservation.

Naomi Stevens researched frog identification techniques via amphibian calls with Dr. Randall Boone, and was very passionate about rock climbing, the environment, and good books.

WINNER: 2020 CSU Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium “High Honors Award!”

Austin Wei was  enthusiastic  about exploring  ways  to  reduce  greenhouse  gas  emissions  and  promote  sustainability  as  a career path. He conducted research on the effects of tropical rainforest drought on plant root growth and soil carbon storage in Panama with Dr. Daniela Cusack and her PhD student Amanda Longhi Cordeiro.

Kan Xu and her mentor, Dr. Michael Lefsky, researched factors that most influences forest ecosystem plant diversity in Puerto Rico between 1937, 1951 and 1951- 2019s.

Kaitlyn Ammerlaan worked with graduate student Tomas Pickering to evaluate drought recovery among Samburu pastoralists in Northern Kenya. After participating in a study abroad experience in South Africa, Kaitlyn became interested in studying the social aspects to conservation practices, leading her to this project.

Taylor Carlton and mentor, Dr. Kate Schoenecker with the USGS, worked on elk and bison interactions in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Taylor always loved animals and nature and hoped to help prevent species extinction, such as with rhinos!

Nicolette Davila and graduate student Alison Foster, her mentor, worked on her project, “Effect of Climate Change on Lodgepole Pine.”

Benjamen Duffy and his mentor, graduate student David Atkins, worked on a project studying the impacts of spatial ecosystem variables on Monochamus beetle abundance and distribution in Colorado’s Front Range. Monochamus beetles are a primary vector for Pine Wilt Disease (PWD), this research will further the understanding of the Monochamus spp. behavior, improving our ability to predict and combat instances of PWD in Colorado.

Caley Ford and graduate student Sarah Whipple, completed a project titled, “An Analysis on Obtaining Accurate Data on Key Arthropod Pollinator Species in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park Using Citizen Science.”

Paul Gadecki worked with PhD student Samantha Mosier on a project on adaptive multi-paddock grazing. His interests included soil ecology and nutrient dynamics.

Lukas Hirneisen and his mentor, Peter Olayemi, worked on the project Cheese Please: The effects of Lactobionate on Microbial Growth and Soil Quality. Lukas’s interest in ESS is to make agriculture more available and sustainable especially within urban areas.

Jake Marinkovich worked with graduate student Cara Steger on Applications of Fuzzy Cognitive Maps in Community Conservation Systems.

Lin Pan worked with her mentor, Dr. Jeremy Shaw, to study wetland cover change in Washington State, specifically looking at peat area land cover change caused by urban development.

Juliet Seibel worked with two CSU graduate students, Alex Stoneburner and Scott Bradfield, on her project titled, “Total Non-Structural Carbohydrates and Plant Resistance to Environmental Stresses.” This research is developed into non-structural carbohydrate storage in different types of grasses and forbs to see how they differ in storage methods and how this works to their advantage or disadvantage.

Amy Spinden worked with Dr. Seth Davis of the Department of Forest and Range Stewardship, studying the effects of Cercocarpus montanus achene allelopathy on plant germination and growth.

Jianyi Tang conducted a research project comparing the variability of wildfire behaviors as modeled by dynamic and static fuel models under the guidance of Andrew Beavers and Amy Burzynski at the Center for Ecological Management on Military Lands.

Yiru Wang and her mentor, Dr. Steven Fassnacht, worked on a project called, “Effect of climate change to human beings.” Yiru was an international transfer student from China.

Sarah Wingard was mentored by Jessica Sanow, and her research project was, “Using Terrestrial LiDAR to Measure Snow Surface Roughness.”

Ge Xu was mentored by Dr. John Moore on the project, “Effects from fertilization on soil microbial structure.” He expected the population of arthropods will decrease in fertilized soil compared to non-fertilized soil.

Kevin Young research project was a time series analysis of selenium concentrations in the Gunnison River Basin. He worked with Dr. Matt Ross of the CSU Natural Resource Ecology Lab and Watershed Science team.

Ran Zong worked with Dr. Jeremy Shaw studying changes in peatlands area cover in Washington State. They tried to find the main cause of the change in these ecosystems.

TAMERA BREIDENBACH

Citizen science studies in Yellowstone National Park increase pollinator species diversity records
Mentors, Sarah Whipple, Dr. Gillian Bowser

This presentation stems from research completed by the Pollinator Hotshots within Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2017. Through a grant focused on student engagement in citizen science research, information was gathered on pollinators in various National Parks. Student citizen scientists from around the world were given introductory, intensive training to conduct field research, collect data, and identify pollinators. Student scientists set up transects in various locations to find pollinator species utilizing a citizen science platform (iNaturalist) to input data sets and photography. My research focused on assessing whether the student citizen scientists were useful in tracking functional pollinator groups, such as bees and butterflies, so that reputable species lists could be returned to the parks for climate change policy and protection management strategies. Previously collected data from the National Park Species List database (https://irma.nps.gov/NPSpecies/Search/SpeciesList/YELL) allowed for comparative analysis of the data collected from the Pollinator Hotshots group.

VALERIA CINTORA

Evapotranspiration and climate analysis of different ecoregions
Mentors, Dr. Dennis Ojima, Dr. Darin Shulte

In this project, we looked at precipitation (ppt) and evapotranspiration (ET) data from three distinct ecological regions in the United States; the Southern Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains- Palouse Dry Steppe Province, and the Great Plains Steppe Province. Using this data, we asked the question, “How do evapotranspiration rates respond to precipitation rates across different ecosystems?” Answering this question could later help with predicting drought patterns in the US. All of our raw data was collected using Climate Engine from the year 2003 until 2017. Precipitation data was collected from gridMet, and evapotranspiration data was from the Operational simplified surface energy balance model (SSEBop). Analysis of evapotranspiration included correlations between ppt and ET during the years and over the growing season. Analysis of ecosystem responses to climate change associated with evapotranspiration fluxes in different regions could predict how ecosystems in the future will handle changing water availability caused by climate.

ANDREA FAIRFIELD

Restoration of polluted watersheds: Using ArcGIS to map transboundary water policies
Mentors, Dr. Jill Baron, Dr. Randall Boone

Surface and groundwaters of the Nooksack-Fraser Transboundary region are contaminated with high nitrate concentrations, harming industries and drinking water. Agricultural inputs (e.g., dairy, berry, and poultry farms) from the region’s growing population are the main culprit. The Nooksack, WA, and Fraser, B.C., rivers connect via groundwater which drains into a polluted Portage Bay, harming the livelihood of the Lummi Nation. Water quality management policies and practices differ greatly between Canada and the US. My research maps policies to determine how these policies may influence nitrate movement across the region. My project is part of a larger effort to provide a scientific basis for management. I expect international and national governments to design numerous generalized policies, while local policies will address more specific issues. Eventually, these maps will be linked with spatially distributed nitrogen budget to identify policies that contribute to, or ameliorate, water nitrogen pollution.

WILL GNESDA

Developing community perceptions of hydrogeology in Simanjiro, Tanzania
Mentor, Dr. Stacy Lynn, NSF-IRES program

Local hydrology in Simanjiro, Tanzania may best be understood in spatial contexts through native communities. Participatory mapping of ground and surface water regimes can develop understandings of historical exploitation of water resources and be instrumental in recognizing consumption patterns. Data collection will include focus group participatory mapping exercises in conjunction with a preferential ranking system of groundwater wells. An analysis will be completed through ArcGIS using a correlative accuracy assessment to compare distance, direction, and area to the true values of well locations, water flow paths, and subterranean aquifer descriptions. Preferential well qualities will be analyzed based on a ranking system ordered and weighted by most sought after well qualities. Results derived from this study will conclude in the form of a report to be provided to communities in Tanzania so that they may better understand the complex relationships between people and water in a changing world.

DAQUAN JEWELL

Go-Pro camera technology in pollinator surveys
Mentor, Dr. Gillian Bowser

Pollination is a vital, yet undervalued ecosystem service. For that reason, research on pollinator behavior is important. This experiment was designed to test how useful technology can be in pollinator surveys. I set up a Go-Pro camera outside the Denver Botanical Gardens to test how useful technology is in detecting pollinators at two different time scales. I used the time-lapse video setting on the Go-Pro to test the ability of the equipment to detect pollinators. The result of the experiment did not support my initial hypothesis, that there would be a major difference in pollinators detected in the afternoon than in the morning. While there were more overall observations in the afternoon, the detection ratio between what the go-pro captured and the human observations were consistent in the morning and afternoon.

SAMMI MAHONEY

Community perceptions of wildlife and livestock population cycling drivers in Tanzania
Mentor, Dr. Stacy Lynn, NSF-IRES program

In Tanzania’s environment, there are many drivers that could affect wildlife and livestock population cycling over space and time. Population drivers can act as either a positive or negative force on in a species’ population size. The species that will be investigated include lions, elephants, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, Cape buffalo, impala, and porcupine. This study involves was a review of the published literature, as well as a field study to conduct semi-structured individual interviews with community members. Interview questions will be based on perceived drivers of population change, the locations where species are commonly observed to be present, and observations of how close the species come to people, their livestock, and human settlements. I will then cross reference the field research results with findings form the published literature to determine agreements between the two.

DENNA MARTINEZ

Evaluating data sets to predict future snow melt in the western United States
Mentor, Caroline Duncan

In Colorado, snow is a contributor to how much water supply could be available for the year. Research has found that dust layers on snow can affect the timing of the melt rate of snow. For my research, I am looking at two types of datasets: the Colorado Dust-On-Snow (CODOS) archive and the Natural Resource Conservation Service SNOTEL dataset. The SNOTEL dataset is an automated meteorological collection that is focused on a larger area, while the CODOS dataset is an automated meteorological collection that focuses on a specific area. One difference between these datasets is the CODOS dataset collects radiation while SNOTEL does not. Within these datasets I am going through and helping to reformat and evaluate them to be used for a model that will be created. With these results, a physically based model will be created to help predict the timing of melt rates of snow.

BRIAN ORTH

Shifts in stream nutrient limitations of periphyton aquatic communities following wildfire
Mentor, Allie Rhea

The Hayman fire has led to water quality degradation within burned watersheds.  Almost 16 years post fire, water quality of these burnt watersheds continues to maintain high levels of nitrogen, but why?  With the management of water quality partly subject to lotic biological activity we’ve asked the question, “How does nutrient limitation of periphyton growth differ between burned and unburned streams?”  To measure this, we used nutrient diffusing substrates (NDS) to create point sources of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), carbon (C) and different combinations of the three within the streams of interest.   After the NDS incubated in the stream for 20 days, we measured NDS for abundance of autotrophs and heterotrophs.  We hypothesized that periphyton growth would shift from N-limitation in unburned streams to P-limitation in burned streams. These results can lead us closer to understanding that the lack of water quality recovery may be related to periphyton nutrient limitations.

SPENCER RHEA

Water access and governance in East African pastoral communities
Mentor, Dr. Stacy Lynn, NSF-IRES program

Pastoral communities in dryland environments often experience water scarcity due to drought, poverty, and lack of surface water. My research will examine factors that contribute to lack of access to potable water of pastoral households in north-west Tanzania. I will examine how poverty, distance to water sources, collection methods, water development projects, and other factors affect pastoralists’ access to potable water. To assess these factors, I will conduct between 7 and 15 semi-structured interviews with women of two pastoral communities in Tanzania. This research will be valuable in determining the elements that prevent pastoralists from accessing potable water. The results could also call attention for greater water governance or development in pastoral communities, if this is seen as a major impediment to accessing water.

EMILY SINKULAR

Socio-ecological changes in mountain systems
Mentor, Dr. Jessica Thorn

The goal of this research is to understand the impact of climate change on social-ecological changes in mountain systems, in Kenya, Tibet and Switzerland. I sought to answer the questions, “In what ways can understandings of current changes reveal benefits of and planning for 2050 in mountain systems? What is the role of local knowledge, research, policies, and governance?” Data involved a variety of contributors and sources. First, an in-depth literature review was conducted. Summaries of these articles translated into summary tables of the regions. Second, statistical analysis was performed on results of Mountain Sentinels, an international research network survey conducted in these regions. From this, I found educational programs and social developments that support the interests of stakeholders were more beneficial than big picture policies. Furthermore, I found land use changes impacts quality of ecosystem services. These findings could support the creation of policy development guided by stakeholder input.

MAKENNA SMITH

The barriers between Tanzanians and potable water
Mentor, Dr. Stacy Lynn, NSF-IRES program

Tanzanians are in a water crisis due to climate variability, poverty, and population growth. While money has been invested in water development, there has been little improvement. My proposed project is to determine the physical, economical, labor, and other barriers between Tanzanians and potable water, to aid developers in developing water in a more constructive way. To do this, I will determine the water quality of surface, ground, and potable water in Sukuro and Kitiengare, Africa. I will conduct focus groups to understand the Massaii’s views on water and barriers to it. Finally, I will compare water quality standards of the United States with the water quality data I collect in Tanzania, to quantify the water quality crisis in Tanzania. These results could document a holistic view of the water problem from the Massaii’s viewpoint, which could lead to a better understanding of the barriers between Tanzanians and potable water.

AMANDA SPIDEL

Ectomycorrhizal fungi colonization in a Rocky Mountain forest
Mentors, Bethany Avera, Shabana Hoosien

Our research examines ectomycorrhizal colonization and correlation with resilience after disturbance, from a forest where regeneration is not occurring after pile burns. The study was conducted in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, along the Front Range of Northern Colorado. Twenty-two randomly selected clearcut units were sampled from areas that were burned in the years 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000. Additionally, twenty-two randomly selected burn piles were sampled for the 10 year chronosquences. The soil was used to determine if regeneration could be obtained in a greenhouse environment. Two hundred and twenty lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) seedlings were grown in the soil samples, roots were put underneath microscopes to look for ectomycorrhizal colonization, and biomass was measured. We noticed that both treatments inside and outside of the burn piles had low infection percentages. Our determination was that ectomycorrhizal fungus colonization did not affect succession.

YANYU WANG

Does a user-friendly greenhouse gas (GHG) prediction tool perform as well as a more complex model (DAYCENT) to predict land-use change?
Mentors, Dr. Steve Del Grosso, Dr. Catherine Stewart

Models that calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are crucial in estimating US agricultural contributions to GHG. We tested two widely used models: a simplified tool (COMET), and a more complex model (DAYCENT). We compared three outputs: net primary production (NPP), soil carbon change (SOC) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, with measured data under three fertilizer scenarios: Urea, Dairy manure, and control. The COMET tool was evaluated with data collected from irrigated cropping systems in northeastern Colorado from 2012 to 2014. The DAYCENT model also required soil texture and manure type as model inputs. The COMET tool represented reasonably for SOC and NPP. However, it overestimated 25% for NPP, 54% for SOC, and 662% for N2O emissions in dairy manure scenario. DAYCENT also overestimated N2O emissions (141% for fresh manure, and 41% for manure compost). DAYCENT performed better than COMET. We suggest that COMET could be improved by better representing manure types and calculation methods.

FELIX YEPA

Comparative detritus soil food web analysis of soil fauna and carbon and nitrogen cycling in the Arctic
Mentors, Dr. John Moore, Dr. Stacy Lynn

With climate change, the Arctic is seeing an increase of a shrub (Betula nana) relative to a sedge (Eriophrium vaginatum). This study assesses changes in the belowground food web in a moist acidic tundra ecosystem located at Toolik Lake, Alaska. I hypothesize that this change will affect the detritus food web model, given that the shrub has lower plant quality relative to the sedge. The study compares functional groups within soil communities within the rooting zones of B. nana and E. vaginatum, and modeled rates of carbon and nitrogen cycling. The model is based on biomass estimates and trophic interaction among functional groups of organisms and detrital resources. We are processing samples to compare biomass estimates with modeling results to understand carbon and nitrogen fluxes. Through this understanding, the detritus food web model contributes to an important societal and environmental goal of predicting responses of tundra ecosystems with environmental change.