Center for Environmental Research (MPCER) scientists undertake research
projects that build understanding of significant environmental
challenges, including climate change and biodiversity loss. These projects result in datasets, maps, and other project products that are made
available through websites. MPCER research efforts are supported by a range of sponsors,
including Arizona’s Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF), the
National Science Foundation, and cooperative agreements with federal land
management agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.
Ongoing Research Projects
Southwest Experimental Garden Array
The Southwest Experimental Garden Array
, or SEGA, is a new genetics-based climate change research platform that allows scientists to quantify the ecological and evolutionary responses of species exposed to changing climate conditions. SEGA has begun to create a system of 10 gardens along a steep elevation gradient in northern Arizona that includes conditions ranging from desert to alpine forest. By planting the same plant species and genotypes in different environments, scientists can identify which ones perform best and are most likely to survive changing conditions.
Southwest Collections of Arthropods
Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN) website is the central data portal
for the SCAN project, which is a National Science Foundation supported effort
to bring together 10 arthropod collections at universities and museums
throughout this region to create a virtual information network on
ground-dwelling arthropods. The website allows users to search collections,
access an image library, and explore other projects. Northern Arizona
University’s Colorado Plateau Museum for Arthropod Biodiversity is one of the
Northern Mariana Islands Program
The Northern Mariana Islands research program is an initiative that fosters collaborations among NAU researchers and resource managers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to design, implement, and evaluate progressive species and habitat conservation strategies through research. The initiative also provides course instruction and field experiences in conservation biology to graduate and undergraduate students. This website provides information about the program's people, courses, and research. Students undertake research projects in conjunction with natural resource managers and scientists.
Recent Northern Arizona Research
Beaver Creek Environmental Atlas
The Beaver Creek Watershed is in the Central Arizona
Highlands and superb example of a typical Southwestern hydrologic system.
The Beaver Creek Environmental Atlas
is an interdisciplinary educational resource that provides a wealth of
information on various aspects of the Beaver Creek Watershed, including
archeology, biology, climate, geology, conservation, and land use. This website
also includes maps of the watershed’s geological features, soils, vegetation,
and much more. The Beaver Creek
Watershed Atlas provides educational resources and promotes research
coordination and collaboration.
C. Hart Merriam Elevation Gradient
C. Hart Merriam Elevation Gradient website focuses on the San Francisco Peaks elevation gradient, a mountainous area
in northern Arizona with six life zones corresponding to differing elevations. This
website contains information on the archaeology, biology, climate, geology,
hydrology, conservation, land use, and weather of the San Francisco Peaks
elevation gradient. Information is also available about research and
educational activities. Other features include virtual tours of various
locations along the gradient and detailed maps.
Greater Grand Canyon-Peaks Ecosystem
Grand Canyon-Peaks website is a comprehensive educational portal for anyone
seeking to deepen his or her understanding of this region, providing
information about wildlife, vegetation, life zones, and land use. Maps and a
bibliography are also provided. The Greater Grand Canyon-Peaks Ecosystem spans
an area that climbs from the desert floor to summit of Humphreys Peak in
northern Arizona, ensuring that the landscapes, plant communities, wildlife,
and habitats of the region exhibit tremendous diversity.
Northern Arizona Environmental Research
Northern Arizona Environmental Research Database (NERD) project is the result of a collaborative effort
between Northern Arizona ecological researchers, Coconino National Forest, and
the Rocky Mountain Research Station to track scientific research being
conducted within the Coconino National Forest. This website serves provides
information for research scientists interested in conducting research on the
Coconino National Forest. Resources include contact information, online permit
form, and a list of research sites.
Other Recent Research
Rocky Mountain Research Station Representativeness Atlas
The Rocky Mountain Research Station Representativeness Atlas is an online mapping tool that allows the user to view detailed information about each of the Experimental Forests and Ranges and Research Natural Areas in the intermountain West. The data were compiled for an assessment of how representative the 14 Experimental Forests and Ranges (EF&Rs) administered by the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station are of the region’s natural landscapes. Climatic and ecological data are provided in a range of formats, including Excel files, shapefiles, and figures.
Climate Change Impacts at NAU
Climate Change at NAU website serves as an interdisciplinary network of faculty, staff, and
students actively engaged in climate change activities at Northern Arizona
University. This website connects people across campus with one another and the
wider community, while also demonstrating the university’s to reducing its
Drought Impacts on Regional Ecosystems
The Drought Impacts on Regional
Ecosystems Network (DIREnet) website is a portal to data, published research,
news, and data related to the effects of drought and potential climate change
on the Southwest’s forests and woodlands. This website was part of a larger
DIREnet project that was designed to foster and facilitate research, bring
scientists and land managers together to plan and conduct research, and promote
the cross pollination of research and education through workshops, symposia,
and student training.
Colorado Plateau All Taxa Biodiversity
Colorado Plateau All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory website provides an overview of ongoing projects to inventory all
taxa in national parks and monuments, including invertebrates, fungi, algae,
lichens, and microbes. These inventories will provide the basis for developing
conservation management plans that will help preserve biodiversity.
Pinyon-Juniper Woodland Information
Woodland Information Network (PJWIN) website was created to provide users
with a comprehensive source of data and information about pinyon-juniper woodlands
on the Colorado Plateau. This information, including distribution maps for
woodland species and drought-related pinyon mortality, was created to support
enhanced natural resource decision making on the Colorado Plateau. PJWIN is a collaborative project of the
Southwest Information Node, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, and
Bureau of Land Management.
Drought Impacts on New Mexico Middle Rio
Grande Basin Vegetation
Drought Impacts on New Mexico Middle Rio Grande Basin Vegetation website provides results and maps
of research to examine the effects of drought-related tree mortality on
pinyon-juniper woodland ecosystems of the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico.
Database of PJ Woodland Treatments
The Database of
PJ Woodland Treatments (PJ-Wood)
is a searchable online resource that archives pinyon-juniper manipulations on
Bureau of Land Management lands across the Colorado Plateau. The website
provides access to treatment data, including location, methods, geographic and ecological descriptions, administrative
designations, cooperators, and financial data for more than 800 treatment sites.
The database also includes photographs, downloadable
GIS data, and a dynamic map search.
Sagebrush Treatment Inventory Project
Sagebrush Inventory Project
collected data on about 60 percent of sage treatments conducted since the 1940s
on Bureau of Land Management lands on the Colorado Plateau. The collected data,
which includes photographs, has been incorporated in the Database of PJ
Woodland Treatments. Geospatial data layers are also available.
Bryce Canyon National Park: 50 Years of
Bryce Canyon National Park: 50 Years of Forest Succession website provides access to
data collected during five surveys of permanent vegetation plots in Bryce
Canyon National Park that span 50 years. The plots were originally established
in the late 1950s by Hayle Buchanan to monitor forest successional change. The
Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research conducted the fifth survey of
the plots in 2007. These data provide a quantitative description and a pictorial
record of plant successional changes over the last 50 years.