August 01, 2018

Udall, Heinrich Announce $6.4 Million National Science Foundation Grant to Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research Site

Grant will study arid land ecosystems and offer research and training opportunities

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a 5-year, $6.4 million grant to the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site. Research at the Sevilleta LTER site focuses on how climate change is affecting arid land ecosystems, and this grant will fund examination of the ecological consequences of rising temperatures and increasingly variable rainfall on drylands.

“New Mexico is fortunate to be home to the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research site where world-class research is conducted,” Udall said. “This grant will focus on the effects of climate change on arid ecosystems, and will have lessons for New Mexico and the Southwest. I’m pleased this National Science Foundation funding will bring additional research and training opportunities for scientists and young researchers to our state.”

“As our state continues to grapple with prolonged drought, the research into long-term ecology in the Middle Rio Grande Valley at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge is invaluable," said Heinrich. "Climate change is real, as New Mexicans have seen this summer in the form of long stretches of the Rio Grande running dry. I hope this ground-breaking research led by UNM scientists and students will provide us with the data we need to create innovative solutions to the water and environmental challenges we will face in the years to come.”

The research will take place within the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, north of Socorro, New Mexico, and nearby areas. The Rio Grande runs through the 230,000 acre refuge, which is one of the largest national wildlife refuges in the nation. Sevilleta LTER is one of 28 NSF LTER sites across the United States and the world that study the long-term ecology of ecosystems ranging from deserts to salt marshes to coral reefs to forests. 

Scientists from the University of New Mexico (UNM) will lead the research, in collaboration with ecologists from Rice University and Northern Arizona University. The scientists will study how long-term environmental trends drive what happens in arid habitats. Arid areas currently make up more than 40 percent of Earth’s land and are expanding. 

The Sevilleta LTER site will offer opportunities for basic research, training, and external collaboration to undergraduates, graduates, and professionals, and will partner with New Mexico's science outreach group, the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP). Coordinated by the UNM Biology Department and the Bosque School in Albuquerque, the BEMP provides opportunities for citizens and students to gather long-term data on the condition of the Rio Grande bosque.  

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Contacts: Ned Adriance (Udall) 202.228.6870 / Whitney Potter (Heinrich) 202.228.1578