95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

SS 22 - Collaborative Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions: Developing the Ecological Research/Education Network (EREN) for PUIs

Wednesday, August 4, 2010: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
308, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Laurel J. Anderson
Erin S. Lindquist
Now, more than ever, ecologists are being called upon to provide data and insight on international environmental issues such as the influences of climate change on biogeochemical cycles and impacts of urban development and invasive species on ecosystem services. These issues are difficult to address comprehensively through small-scale studies at single sites, yet site-level experiments are often done by ecologists at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) because of practical and financial constraints. We propose to develop an ecological data-collection network of PUIs that links research sites together at a national scale. We argue that, through long-term, coordinated data collection, a network of PUI research sites could be used to identify and analyze important regional and national ecological patterns. Scientists with limited research resources may be able to answer broader scientific questions by working together and through cooperation can enhance their contributions to ecological science and environmental policy. In addition, we believe that engaging undergraduates in authentic, large-scale, collaborative projects that use faculty expertise across institutions represents true excellence in science education. We expect our students to emerge from such experiences with an enhanced understanding of geographic connectivity and ecological drivers at multiple scales, and an appreciation of collaboration as a powerful, feasible approach to ecological science. Proposed pilot projects include comparing carbon sequestration and decomposition across sites and effects of urbanization on ecological processes. At this session, EREN representatives will give brief presentations on progress made in network development and invite feedback on how to best further the project.
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