NSF Awards Grants to Study Dimensions of Earth's Biodiversity
Scientists will investigate forest change, marine viruses, honey bees, stream biodiversity, evolutionary history
Despite centuries of discovery, most of our planet's biodiversity remains unknown. The scale of that unrecognized biodiversity is a vital question, scientists believe, given its rapid and permanent loss around the globe.
To respond to the need for more knowledge and a better understanding of Earth's biodiversity, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded 14 grants in its Dimensions of Biodiversity campaign.
The campaign is expected to transform how we describe and understand the role and scope of life on Earth.
It promotes novel, integrated approaches to identifying and comprehending the evolutionary and ecological significance of biodiversity in today's changing environment, and in the geologic past.
"Dimensions of Biodiversity is accelerating the pace of biodiversity research and discovery, and enables scientists to think at grand scales," says Joann Roskoski, acting director of NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences.
"Collaborative teams have formed to tackle some of the big questions using novel and integrative techniques," she says. "Taxonomists are talking to geneticists; geneticists to ecologists; and ecologists to taxonomists. This is not business as usual."
With the loss of Earth's biodiversity, biologists have found, we're losing links in the web of life that provide ecosystem services; forfeiting an understanding of the history and future of the living world; and eliminating beneficial discoveries in the domains of food, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and bio-inspired innovation.
This reality has stimulated the new NSF awards, co-funded by NSF's Directorates for Biological Sciences and Geosciences.
The grants integrate genetic, taxonomic, and functional dimensions of biodiversity, requiring that multiple dimensions be addressed simultaneously.
"Dimensions of Biodiversity combines a rapid campaign with a new way of thinking about biodiversity that integrates genetic, taxonomic, and functional questions," says Roskoski.
"Dimensions may accomplish in 10 years what, with a piecemeal approach, would have taken 50 years--a half-century we can no longer wait."
NSF DIMENSIONS OF BIODIVERSITY AWARDS
Title: Diversity and forest change: Characterizing functional, phylogenetic and genetic contributions to diversity gradients and dynamics in tree communities
Title: The role of viruses in structuring biodiversity in methanotrophic marine ecosystems
Title: Genomics, functional roles, and diversity of the symbiotic gut microbiotae of honey bees and bumble bees
Title: Parallel evolutionary radiations in Protea and Pelargonium in the Greater Cape Floristic Region
Title: An integrative traits-based approach to predicting variation in vulnerability of tropical and temperate stream biodiversity
Title: Functional, genetic, and taxonomic diversity of plant-fungal interactions along climatic gradients and their role in climate change driven species migrations
Title: Biological controls in the ocean: the Redfield Ratio
Title: Shedding light on viral dark matter--genetic, taxonomic, and functional diversity of coral reef viromes
Title: Roles of functional, phylogenetic, and genetic diversity in structuring and sustaining plant communities through environmental change
Title: An interdisciplinary study of hyperdiverse endophytic fungi and their function in boreal forests
Title: Can evolutionary history predict how changes in biodiversity impact the productivity of ecosystems
Title: Deconstructing diversity and ecosystem function at multiple spatial and genetic scales in a keystone plant-microbe symbiosis
Title: Significance of nitrification in shaping planktonic biodiversity in the ocean
Title: The microbial basis of animal speciation
This program is part of NSF's investment in Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES). The SEES portfolio address challenges in climate and energy research and education using a systems-based approach to understanding, predicting, and reacting to change in the natural, social, and built environments.
Initial SEES efforts focused on coordination of a suite of research and education programs at the intersection of climate and environment, including specific attention to incorporating human dimensions.
For FY 2010, new solicitations were released that aligned with key aspects of NSF's SEES portfolio. These solicitations (Water Sustainability and Climate; Dimensions of Biodiversity; Ocean Acidification; Regional and Decadal Earth Systems Modeling; and the Climate Change Education Program) resulted in 70 total awards totaling $66 million.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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