More than 170 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Ned Fetcher and several Wilkes students, are studying the effects of climate change on plants. Fetcher’s research could foretell the effects of global warming in ecosystems around the world. That is because patterns observed in the Arctic are expected to appear later in other ecosystems – so the findings of this project may serve as an indicator of the potential effects of local adaptation on plant responses to climate change
Back in the lab at Wilkes, Fetcher and his students are processing the results of
their Arctic visit. He is the principal investigator on a research team awarded a
$1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a three-year study of the
effect of a changing climate on tussock cottongrass, a plant indigenous to tundra
ecosystems in Alaska. Wilkes undergraduates are participating in the project as field
assistants, spending up to 10 weeks during the summer at the Toolik Lake Field Station,
north of the Arctic Circle.
Fetcher is conducting research with co-investigators Jianwu (Jim) Tang of the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass., and Michael Moody of the University of Texas at El Paso.