Summary of FY2002 Budget Request to Congress - National Science Foundation


The FY 2002 Budget Request for the Environmental Biology (DEB) Subactivity is $111.74 million, an increase of $1.87 million, or 1.7 percent, over the FY 2001 Current Plan of $109.87 million.

(Millions of Dollars)

   FY 2000 Actual FY 2001
Current Plan
FY 2002 Request Change
Amount Percent
Environmental Biology Research Projects 89.36 109.87 111.74 1.87 1.7%
Total, Environmental Biology $89.36 $109.87 $111.74 $1.87 1.7%

The Environmental Biology Subactivity (DEB) supports fundamental research on the origins, functions, relationships, interactions, and evolutionary history of populations, species, communities, and ecosystems. Studies can occur in any natural or human-impacted biotic system of the world, and can address the genealogical relationships among plants, animals, and microbes; the flux of energy and materials that sustain or degrade ecological communities; and the principles or rules by which species function in ecosystems and evolve through time.

Major activities supported by DEB utilize approaches and tools developed through the genomics revolution. Genome Enabled Science topics include the magnitude and role of biodiversity, both at the genetic and organismal level, on ecosystem processes; evolution and development; microbial ecology, the impacts of climate change on living organisms and ecological systems; and assembly of the Tree of Life. Other areas take advantage of recent advances in computation, mathematics and modeling techniques to address biological complexity using a Systems Biology approach. Research areas include modeling ecosystem dynamics in real time, computational biology, and conservation biology and restoration ecology. Basic research in ecology and evolution is sustained through disciplinary programs, all of which are undergoing long-term transformation as they incorporate new methods and tools from genomics, computer science, and mathematics. The acquisition and analysis of very large environmental datasets; organismal data from field studies and natural history collections; and molecular data from genomic sequencing all require new integrative approaches and skills. National activities supported include the Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and the network of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites.

Example: Advances in DNA sequencing and in computational algorithms for analyzing very large data sets are allowing researchers to unravel the genealogy of green plants. Botanists and their colleagues in the "Deep Green" consortium capitalized on these new technologies to tackle the more than 350,000 species of land plants and their green-algal relatives in large-scale phylogenetic analyses. Notable results have included the identification of the closest living relative of seed plants, a finding with substantial economic value to agriculture since it will allow us to determine how genes for important agronomic traits have changed through time. For example, research from this project revealed that the genes responsible for drought tolerance in flowering plants re-evolved multiple times in many different plant groups but originated from genes with this function in simple ancestral plants. The ability to trace the change in DNA composition of these genes and the impact of these changes on gene function through assembly of the Tree of Life will allow us to identify which changes have been most important in conferring important traits, such as drought tolerance to plants and allow their adaptation to use in activities valuable to humans.

The FY 2002 Budget Request includes funding in the following areas:

  • "2010 Project": DEB will increase funding for studies that explore the linkage between plant gene products identified by the "2010 Project" and evolutionary and ecological processes, which then feed back into genetic change through natural selection.

  • Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE): Recognizing the expanding role that genomics plays in DEB sciences, investigations that employ data from functional genomics research to understand the fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes that determine the nature and dynamics of the world's ecological systems will be supported.

  • Genome-Enabled Science: This research capitalizes on the many technological advances in genomics and applies them to critical questions in biodiversity, evolution and ecology. Support for research that contributes to determining the complete genealogy of all living organisms, known as the Tree of Life Project, will be increased. Related research, which uses genomics tools to enhance our understanding of the biodiversity of lesser-known groups in major biomes such as microorganisms, will also be supported.

  • Systems Biology: Investigations on complexity in biological systems, especially those involving the interaction of human and natural systems, and studies that integrate and synthesize extant and new information to achieve a predictive understanding of system behavior will be supported. In particular, the focus will be on research related to changes in biodiversity, the structure and function of ecological communities, and ecosystem processes, such as biogeochemical cycling. Fundamental research, especially studies on the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of invasive species and on ecological restoration, will also be supported.

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