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UW Team’s Research Work Published in Latest Nature Journal

August 3, 2011
Man and woman
Graduate Student Nicholas Brown assists UW Botany Professor Elise Pendall on a CO2 research project at the High Plains Grasslands Research Station near Cheyenne. (UW Photo)

In high plains grasslands, increased carbon dioxide can completely reverse the drying effects of mild global warming on plants, according to research conducted in part by four University of Wyoming scientists.

UW Department of Botany Professor Elise Pendall is among 10 principal investigators on the experiment, the results of which were published today (Wednesday) in the science journal Nature. It marks the first four years of data from an eight-year study. The study is being conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Rangeland Resources Research Unit (RRRU) at the High Plains Grasslands Research Station near Cheyenne.

The other UW researchers are David Williams, professor, and Yolima Carrillo, post-doctoral research associate, both in the Department of Botany; and Jana Heisler-White, post-doctoral research scientist with the USDA-ARS in Fort Collins, Colo. She was a post-doctoral research scientist at UW at the time of the research.

"So the big question we're asking is, what are rangeland ecosystems going to look like in 100 years? We're simulating climate conditions to be somewhat similar to what models predict the CO2 concentrations and temperatures will be in roughly 100 years, or by the end of the century - maybe before the end of the century depending on how quickly we start working on trying to abate climate change," Pendall says.

The findings can help ranchers learn to adjust the forage quality for their herds, Pendall says, helping them continue to ranch in a potentially warmer world.

To read the complete article, go to .


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