Utah State University professor Carsten Meier is part of a team of professors who were granted $20,000 to continue research on Uinta ground squirrels based on a long-term study that has rested for many decades. The study will focus on adaptive responses of the squirrels, a hibernating indicator species, to climate change.
“My photography will be used as a public outreach component,” said Meier, assistant professor of photography in the Caine College of the Arts. “I will be making photographic panels that allow the viewer a better understanding of the ground squirrel’s habitat, and the final art product will be used to advocate the need for this scientific investigation.”
Along with Meier, Lise Aubrey, research assistant professor and population ecologist, Susannah French, assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Scott Bernhardt, assistant professor in the Department of Biolgoy, are principal investigators on the grant.
The professors will start the field work for the grant in April 2014. They will measure changes in phenology and life history traits in response to climate change over 50 years. Survival, reproduction, growth, the timing of spring emergence and hibernation were last recorded throughout the 1960s. By conducting a similar study on the same population today and relating the changes in the squirrels to climate change, the professors will be able to detect changes in phenology, demography and overall population viability.
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