In September 2011, the National Science Foundation awarded a Dimensions of Biodiversity collaborative grant to 5 American institutions: Michigan State University, Wellesley College, University of California – Santa Barbara, University of Texas – Austin, and East Tennessee State University. It’s a project that we wouldn’t dream of undertaking without our amazing colleagues at Irkutsk State University in Siberia.
The central idea is to examine biodiversity among Lake Baikal plankton, the base of the lake’s food web, including studies from genetic diversity to functional diversity. In particular, we will be looking at how diversity in its many dimensions may buffer the lake’s food web against environmental change, such as the rapid warming that has occurred at Lake Baikal over recent decades. The project abstract gives more information (http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1136637 ).
The new project builds on 7+ years of Russian-American collaboration – some of this history was described in the New York Times in 2006 ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/earth/06lake.html).
Our team’s first reconnaissance trip is taking place even as I write – 23-29 Oct 2011. The journey appears to have started with a jetlagged, punchy survey of amphipods in the Angara River in downtown Irkutsk! Nerds at play. 🙂