Advancing Indigenous perspectives to address climate vulnerability in the Southwest: research training for and by diverse communities
Research projects will focus on integrating ecological, evolutionary, and cultural perspectives to predict and mitigate catastrophic ecosystem transitions. Specifically, the research will address these questions: 1. How does past evolution of tolerance in key foundation species predict limits to their species distributions? 2. How do species interactions constrain the boundaries of species and ecosystems? 3. How does the stability of ecosystem functions depend on community-level responses to climate change? Working from physiological to landscape scales across woodland, rangeland, riparian, and agricultural systems will allow fellows to develop a wide range of skills. Skill development will include field and laboratory experimentation, experimental plantings, biodiversity assessment, population modeling, next generation sequencing, chemical and isotopic analyses, geographic information systems, and remote sensing. Integrated training and development activities for both fellows and mentors will include (1) ecological, evolutionary, and cultural components of climate adaptation, (2) interdisciplinary and quantitative approaches for testing hypotheses from population to landscape ecology, (3) responsible and safe conduct of research, and (4) cross-cultural communication, collaboration, and leadership skills. Recruitment of fellows will be through Tribal Colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions in the southwestern US and use local and national networks serving populations historically underrepresented in biology and natural resources careers. Support and training will be tailored to the background and goals of individual fellows to ensure they are competitive for the next step in their career whether that is entering the environmental biology workforce or continuing to graduate school.
Co-funding for this award is being provided by Navigating the New Arctic (NNA) program one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas. NNA supports projects that address convergence scientific challenges in the rapidly changing Arctic, empower new research partnerships, diversify the next generation of Arctic researchers, enhance efforts in formal and informal education, and integrate the co-production of knowledge where appropriate. This award aligns with those goals.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.