Sunday, May 03, 2015

Rob Dunn seeking community participation in suveying & analyzing Duke Forest warming chambers

Just got this email from Rob Dunn from NC State.  He said it was OK to post it ... so I am .. (I note - I just completely love this idea).

Hi folks,

As you might (or might not) know, we have for five years now been running a large-scale warming experiment in which we have warmed twelve 5 meter diameter open-top chambers in forest understory at Duke Forest. We have warmed these chambers in a regression design with the warmest chambers as warm as temperatures are predicted to be in the region in 2100 and the coolest chambers at ambient temperatures (We also have no-chamber controls). These are small worlds each of which mimics aspects of futures we might face. This entire set-up is replicated at Harvard Forest. In these chambers we have been studying the response of insects (with a focus on ants) and plants  over the last five years. When we built them these chambers were the biggest warming experiment in a forest understory in the world. I don't know if it is still true, but it probably is, if only because chambers of this size are so hard to keep going (especially in the early we felt like Fitzcarraldo dragging a ship through the rainforest) that most people have decided against repeating them elsewhere. 

Some basics on the chambers...

I'm writing because on May 25th we are taking the chambers down and doing a final inventory of the response of everything--all the life we can possibly evaluate--to this warming. To varying extents we have considered the phenology of plants in the chambers, many things about ants in the chambers, shifts in composition of invertebrates in the chambers and simple responses of bacterial and fungal assemblages in the chambers. But, we have done all of this delicately, always mindful to not overly disturb the future world we are simulating. Now though that the chambers are coming down we can and will consider roots, plant biomass, the abundance of insect pests, fungal pathogens and much, much, more. 

As we do this intensive survey, we are hoping to train as many different eyes, lenses and perspectives on the chambers as possible. If you are potentially interested in studying some aspect of the response of understory forest life to warming, let us know. If you are interested in studying something that can be extracted from soil or litter samples, we may be able to send you material you can work on. If you have something grander in mind (and we love grand things), then we may need more help from you. If interested, send an email to me, copied to MJ Epps (Mj Epps <>).  This collaboration might be in the form of bringing a new method to the chambers (looking at microbial processes, for instance) or considering a group of organisms we've somewhat ignored (e.g., fly larvae) or it might be something totally off the wall. Feel free to share this email with likable folks that might be interested. 

I'm also delighted to hear creative ideas about visualizing the differences that have emerged over the years of this experiment (hence the inclusion of several artists of various sorts on this email list, if you were wondering why you were copied). 

I hope this email finds you well. 



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