Assistant Professor of Biology Sydne Record has been awarded a National Science Foundation Grant to research how natural and human-made factors affect geographic patterns of biodiversity.
The $368,000 in funding over five years aims to advance the field of ecology by connecting fine-grained measurements of individual organism traits, like body size, to cross-scale drivers of biodiversity from plot to continental scales. The research develops a framework that describes relationships among intraspecific trait variation (ITV) in body size, biodiversity, and drivers related to disturbance, past land use, and their interactions.
The grant will fund teaching modules which highlight data science skills needed to work with National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) data. Undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs will engage directly with the research.
Kyra Hoerr '20 worked in Record’s lab during a summer research project and conducted analyses that contributed to the funded proposal. Nia Riggins '20 is also working in the lab on another data set collected at the Harvard Forest NEON site.
This project will benefit future students by providing them with summer research opportunities at the Harvard Forest NEON site, including travel funds to get them to the field station along with their room, board, and stipend for the summer.
The study will also engage the public and increase awareness of the biosphere and environmental change with Science on a Sphere, an interactive exhibit that uses video projectors to display planetary data. The exhibit will be developed with computer science students, a natural history museum, and a large science festival.
The proposed research will meet a major research need within NEON, to quantify disturbance and land use history data from the plot to the domain scale. These new data and biodiversity analyses will serve to establish a baseline for future spatiotemporal NEON data products that concern ecological communities and ITV.
Read more about Record’s research on her lab's blog.