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Cold weather science

02/07/2013

Melany Fisk, left, and Lynn Christenson, assistant professor of biology, Vassar College, sampling soil in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire's White Mountains (photo courtesy Melany Fisk)
Melany Fisk, left, and Lynn Christenson, assistant professor of biology, Vassar College, sampling soil in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire's White Mountains (photo courtesy Melany Fisk)
Miami scientists conduct field research year around. Recent research and publications by faculty whose field study sites are often covered in snow and ice have implications for understanding the effects of climate change.

Read more about ecologist Melany Fisk, who studies the impact of winter climate change on a northeastern hardwood forest - and entomologist Rick Lee, who has led eight research expeditions to Antarctica.

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Melany Fisk, associate professor of zoology, is part of a team of 20 researchers who describe how aboveground and belowground responses to springtime warming are becoming separated in time in a forest in New England. This and other indirect effects of climate change could alter the dominant trees and other plants in the region as well as the wildlife present, with likely consequences for local industry and tourism — such as the maple syrup industry, timber resources and recreational skiing.

Read more about Fisk’s research.

Their observations could be a bellwether for changes in forests elsewhere. Their study, "Long-Term Integrated Studies Show Complex and Surprising Effects of Climate Change in the Northern Hardwood Forest," is published in the December 2012 issue of BioScience.

"In the northeastern U.S., climate is changing more rapidly in winter than in summer," said Fisk. "The impacts of winter climate change on ecosystems are greatly complicated by effects on snow depth and soil freezing.”
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Rick Lee and Yuta Karawasaki collecting the Antarctic wingless midge, Belgica antarctica, near Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula (photo by Peter Rejcek)
Rick Lee and Yuta Karawasaki collecting the Antarctic wingless midge, Belgica antarctica, near Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula (photo by Peter Rejcek)
Miami University scientists have long had a research presence in the Antarctic. Nick Teets (Miami ’07) has been a part of that research since he was a sophomore at Miami working with faculty mentor Rick Lee, University Distinguished Professor of Zoology.

Teets, who received his doctorate in entomology at Ohio State University in December, is a lead author, along with Lee, Yuta Kawarasaki, doctoral student in zoology, and an international team of researchers on a recent study of the Antarctic insect Belgica antartica and the gene expression changes that enable it to be extremely tolerant of dehydration.

Their study is part of a first-ever genome sequencing of an Antarctic animal.

Their paper was published in the Dec. 11, 2012 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Read more about Lee's research.

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