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Natural resources experts add to South-Central Climate Science Center study

Natural resources experts add to South-Central Climate Science Center study

Texas Tech is now part of a broad-based scientific consortium that will make up the newly formed ‘South-Central Climate Science Center’ to study the impacts of climate change on our natural resources and environment. The entity, created by the U.S. Department of the Interior, covers Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The consortium is led by the University of Oklahoma and is made up of Texas Tech, Louisiana State University, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University. It also includes other organizations from across the region.

The South-Central Climate Science Center is one of eight being established throughout the country. Texas Tech is expected to play a significant leadership role within the consortium and with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“The awarding of the South-Central Climate Science Center was a highly competitive process,” said Texas Tech President Guy Bailey. “We’re delighted to partner with these outstanding institutions and tribal organizations. I believe Texas Tech brings solid climate science, conservation and atmospheric science research to the table as the consortium looks at solutions to current challenges facing our region.”

Among the Texas Tech researchers affiliated with the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are:

Mark Wallace Chairman, Texas Tech Department of Natural Resources Management. A noted wildlife and habitat management expert, Wallace has been with the academic unit since 1996. His research interests have focused on animal-habitat relationships studying land use effects on turkey populations in Texas and Kansas, elk in New Mexico, ecologies of prairie species in the Texas panhandle, and the economic value of songbirds. He will focus on the effects of climate change on species distribution and abundance in the South-Central region. His doctorate degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences is from the University of Arizona.

Michael Farmer Associate Professor, Agriculture and Applied Economics and Natural Resource Management. Farmer is a resource economist working on land use decisions that affect long run natural resource integrity and economic stability. An expert on the precautionary principle, he evaluates gross uncertainty. Farmer finds multi-disciplinary policy assessments that affect the long run are often far more uncertain than presented. He has developed statistical techniques to coordinate multi-disciplinary input to determine if actions increase or decrease the risk of unacceptable future ecological-economic outcomes.

Reynaldo Patino Unit Leader, Texas Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit. Patino has been with the unit and Tech’s Department of Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences since 1989. He’s a member of the adjunct faculty of the Department of Environmental Toxicology. His research interests broadly include aquatic sciences and impacts of environmental change on fisheries resources. Patino received his doctorate degree from Oregon State University. Although not formally an investigator on the proposal, the unit he represents was instrumental to its success.

Becoming part of the center makes Texas Tech part of a national network that is addressing real science needs that can be used to deal with water policy issues, biological conservation and how economic decisions are influenced by precipitation and climate, said John Zak, a biologist and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences who serves as the principal investigator on the project.

“The University of Oklahoma has very in-depth capabilities looking at climate dynamics on the macro-level,” Zak said. “We’re very good at looking at climate change from the regional level, and we’re very good at understanding responses of ecological systems to climate change. Our experience at understanding ecological responses on land and in water is a strength that Texas Tech brings to this consortium. We’ve got a solid background of studying regional climates as well as working in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico to deal with those kinds of issues.”

Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor and one of the directors of Tech’s Climate Science Center, noted that when it comes to climate change, the consortium approach to understanding it is the most effective. So many variables in play at one time make it hard for just one researcher or institution to fully grasp the big picture.

Written by John Davis

CONTACT: Mark Wallace, Chairman, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-1983, mark.wallace@ttu.edu

1118NM11 / PHOTOS (top to bottom) Mark Wallace, Michael Farmer and Reynaldo Patino

 

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