Published: Jan. 10, 2010

Last week NSF called Christy McCain to give her the welcome news that NSF was funding her proposed study, entitled

Diversity and Climate Change: using elevational gradients to uncover processes underlying mammalian species distributions

Funding is from the Population and Community Ecology Panel, for $482,843 over three years. I have copied part of the abstract below.

Be sure to congratulate her. What a fine start to the semester!

The objective of this proposal is to use rodent distributions on two contrasting montane gradients in the Southern Rocky Mountains—the San Juans and the Front Range—to test factors driving current diversity patterns and to detect range shifts due to climate change. Elevational gradients hold enormous potential for understanding biodiversity since variation in climate and species richness are on the same order of magnitude as other ecological gradients (e.g., latitude), but occur over much smaller spatial scales with contrasting patterns. Over a three–year period, three elevational transects within each mountain range will be surveyed to document diversity, species distributions, population trends, climate, food resources, and habitat characteristics. These data will be used to robustly and simultaneously test the main ecological theories of diversity including temperature, precipitation, productivity, area, mid-domain effect, habitat heterogeneity, and biotic interactions. Comparisons between current ranges and historical distributions on a landscape scale will determine the degree of range shifts due to documented climate changes in temperature and precipitation.