ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGY $104,770,000
The FY 2004 Request for the Environmental Biology (DEB) Subactivity is $104.77 million, an increase of $5.0 million, or 5.0 percent, from the FY 2003 Request of $99.77 million.
Environmental Biology Funding
The Environmental Biology Subactivity supports fundamental research on the origins, functions, relationships, and evolutionary history of populations, species, and higher taxa, and on the interactions within and dynamics of biological communities and ecosystems. Studies can be conducted in any natural or human-impacted biotic system of the world, and can address the species of or genealogical relationships among plants, animals, and microbes; the flux of energy and materials in ecosystems; and the principles or rules by which species function in communities and evolve through time.
In FY 2004, core activities in the DEB Subactivity are increased by $5.0 million to enhance support for multidimensional, multidisciplinary, integrative and data-driven research focused on understanding ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes. Such research seeks to achieve the overarching goal of 21st Century Biology: to understand life at both its most fundamental level and in all its complexity. Exciting progress and integration of advances in genomics, informatics, computer science, sensors, GIS and satellite imagery, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering offer the promise of realizing this ambitious goal as DEB supported researchers collaborate in multidisciplinary teams.
Highlights of areas supported:
Multidisciplinary research on complex systems. Recent advances in computation, mathematics and modeling techniques support studies of the functioning of complex ecosystems. In the world's first large-scale rainfall manipulation experiment, researchers studying the Amazon are using empirical and modeling approaches over a five-year period to establish the level of drought stress that this rainforest can tolerate before large trees begin to die. These results are invaluable for understanding climate change since rainforests contribute substantially to the carbon dioxide dynamics of the atmosphere and worldwide they are experiencing stronger droughts as El Niño episodes become more frequent and severe.
Living Networks research involves fundamental analytical and synthetic studies on interactions between and among organisms, humans and their abiotic settings. During the summer of 2002, western North America experienced one of the largest forest fires in recorded history. The Biscuit Fire burned nearly one half million acres of mostly pristine habitats in Oregon and California. One project is using burned and unburned sites left by this fire to address questions in community ecology. At replicated sites, researchers will exclude ants, a major seed dispersal agent, and test for effects on plant community composition and growth. This work will significantly extend our knowledge of ant-plant community interactions and re-establishment after catastrophic fire.
Recent genome-enabled science and information
technologies also underpin DEB support for exploration of the diversity
and history of life on earth. Madagascar is home to some of the most rare
and endangered organisms
on Earth. A DEB supported study of the evolutionary history of Malagasy
vertebrates using genomic tools will help us understand the consequences
of environmental change for vertebrate speciation and human impact on
genetic diversity of forest-dependent species. This research can inform
conservation policy for one of earth's most ecologically diverse and threatened