Budget 2000 Environmental Biology
NSF Fiscal Year 2000
Budget Requests Excerpts

Environmental Biology


   The FY 2000 Budget Request for the Environmental Biology Subactivity is $89.45 million, an increase of $3.54 million, or 4.1 percent, over the FY 1999 Current Plan of $85.91 million.

(Millions of Dollars)
  FY 1998
FY 1999
FY 2000
Environmental Biology Research Projects 79.30 85.91 89.45 3.54 4.1%
TOTAL, DEB $79.30 $85.91 89.45 $3.54 4.1%

The Environmental Biology Subactivity (DEB) supports basic research on natural and human-impacted biotic systems of the world, including their species composition; the genealogical relationships among plants, animals, and microbes; the flux of energy and materials that sustains or degrades ecological communities; and the principles or rules by which species function in ecosystems and evolve through time.

Examples of major activities supported by DEB include: biodiversity studies, molecular evolution, and genomics; microbial ecology, climate impacts, and ecosystem dynamics; computational biology; and conservation biology and restoration ecology. Basic research in ecology and evolution is sustained while undergoing long-term transformation as it incorporates new methods and tools from computational and molecular biology. The acquisition and analysis of very large environmental datasets; organismal data from field studies and natural history collections; molecular data from genomic sequencing - all require new integrative approaches and skills. National platforms supported include the Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the network of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites, now including urban and coastal ecosystem sites.

Tick-borne transmission of Lyme disease has indirectly come under investigation by ecologists from the Institute of Ecosystem Studies studying animal-plant interactions in eastern North America. These researchers originally focused on gypsy moths and forest management practices for controlling outbreaks. In years of heavy acorn production by oak trees, large populations of white-footed mice develop. Because the mice feed on gypsy moth pupae, experimental manipulations of mice densities have also shown effects on gypsy moth populations. Subsequent efforts to manage mice populations as control agents for the gypsy moth ran up against the fact that the white-footed mice are primary hosts for the tick that transmits Lyme disease. In their experimentally manipulated plots, the researchers found increases in tick incidence in the high-density mouse populations. The results sounded the alarm that some management practices for decreasing gypsy moths could increase the risk of Lyme disease. More generally, the results emphasized again the complexity of ecological interactions, and the need for analyses of indirect and feedback effects over varying time frames and spatial scales.

The FY 2000 Budget Request includes an increase of $3.54 million for a total of $89.45 million. Activities that will be supported in FY 2000 include:

  • A $300,000 increase in LTER funding that in collaboration with funding from the Geosciences (GEO) Activity will support additional coastal LTER sites in FY 2000. In FY 1998, one coastal LTER was established with support from the BIO and GEO Activities.

  • Increased investments in information technology to recover, restore, archive and curate environmental biological data, establish long-term data archives, ensure data access and provide a mechanism for the systematic curation of new data collections. To accomplish these ends a distributed collaboratory will be established.

  • Enhanced integration of research and education at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels by increasing support for REU supplements and the CAREER Program for beginning investigators.

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