Professor Nathan Sanders awarded prestigious research grant
The Carlsbeg Foundation has awarded Professor Nathan Sanders with a ”Semper Ardens” research grant of DKK 5,634,564 for the project ”WARM: Warming And Removal in Mountains to predict the future of biodiversity and ecosystem responses”.
Climatic warming, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is predicted to increase average global surface temperatures 2-4 °C by 2090. The effects of warming are especially pronounced in mountain systems, where much of our drinking water comes from, where more than one billion people live, and where most terrestrial biodiversity occurs. Thus, a fundamental challenge facing community and ecosystem ecologists is being able to predict ecosystem functions and services in mountains in response to climatic warming.
Nathan Sanders' project will build an international network of globally replicated experiments distributed in mountain regions throughout the world to understand the links among biodiversity, climate change, and the services that biodiversity provides for people.
“I’ve spent my entire life hiking up and down mountains, trying to understand the biodiversity that’s found there. With this incredible funding from Carlsberg, we’re now trying to predict how climate change will affect that biodiversity” says Nathan Sanders, Professor at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the Natural Hisotry Museum.
At at least 10 mountain regions around the world his research team will artificially increase air and soil temperatures and manually remove the most dominant plant species to understand how these factors interact to shape biodiversity and ecosystem function in mountain ecosystems. They will assess the responses of biodiversity, both aboveground (the plants) and below ground (soil microbes and micro arthropods), and ecosystem function (how carbon fluxes through the ecosystem).
The WARM network. The University of Copenhagen will be the hub of the network. Stars indicate sites where the experiment is up and running, and circles indicate where we plan to establish sites in the very near future.
The Natural History Museum at the University of Copenhagen has a long history of research in mountains all over the world, but no studies to date, at the museum or elsewhere, have explored how changing climate mediates the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function in mountains.