RII Track-2 FEC: Aquatic Intermittency Effects on Microbiomes in Streams (AIMS)

  • Burgin, Amy A.J. (PI)
  • Atkinson, Carla L. (CoPI)
  • Godsey, Sarah E. (CoPI)
  • Kuehn, Kevin K.A. (CoPI)
  • Vaughn, Caryn C. (CoPI)
  • Allen, Daniel (CoPI)
  • Ramon, Guy G. (PI)
  • Jassby, David D. (CoPI)
  • Eric, M. V. Hoek M.V. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

Understanding of links among microbial communities (microbiomes), stream health, and water quality relies on studies of perennially flowing streams. However, more than half of global stream-miles do not flow continuously. These intermittent streams occur across the entire country--from western deserts to eastern forests. Despite their ubiquity, research on intermittently flowing streams is impeded by a lack of: 1) physical infrastructure designed to measure intermittency, and 2) scientific training that straddles aquatic and terrestrial ecology. The Aquatic Intermittency effects on Microbiomes in Streams (AIMS) project will address the first obstacle by creating a network of instrumented sites designed to generate 'Big Data' to quantify flow intermittency, stream microbiomes, and water quality. AIMS will confront the second obstacle by using its network to provide training in collaborative science and interdisciplinary methods to study intermittent streams, and by providing workforce training in environmental 'Big Data' tools through a new On Ramps to Data Science program, which will focus on data generated by microbiome sequencing, environmental sensors, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This infrastructure and training will support a team of 18 investigators, including nine early career scientists spanning five EPSCoR jurisdictions (AL, ID, KS, MS, OK). To build capacity in team science, 11 graduate students and two postdoctoral associates will be recruited using a cohort model that will provide cross-jurisdictional training in scientific communication, inclusive mentoring, data management and collaboration. Students will be trained through AIMS Undergraduate Program (AIMS UP), which will recruit participants from regional partners, such as Haskell Indian Nations University, Alabama A&M, and the Shoshone-Bannock Summer Youth Program. Our overarching objective is to create research infrastructure and training capable of integrating big data sources needed to address water quality at the critical nexus between intermittent and perennial streams.

Our scientific understanding of streams derives from perennially flowing systems; yet, over half of the world's streams and rivers only flow intermittently -- a fraction that is projected to increase with climate change. These less-studied intermittent channels form the nexus between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and are a potentially important control point for influencing downstream water quality. Furthermore, how hydrology, biogeochemical processes and microbial communities (microbiomes hereafter) interact to affect water quality is likely distinct in intermittent streams compared to perennial streams. The Aquatic Intermittency effects on Microbiomes in Streams (AIMS) project will fill this knowledge gap in order to predict how intermittent streams influence downstream water quality, which requires quantifying how microbiomes and hydrology interact to control biogeochemical cycling and water quality. AIMS will integrate datasets on hydrology, microbiomes, and biogeochemistry in three regions to test the overarching hypothesis that physical drivers (e.g., climate, hydrology) interact with biological drivers (e.g., microbes, biogeochemistry) to control water quality in intermittent streams. Our solution to build scientific capacity and workforce development is to: 1) create a network of instrumented sites to quantify and predict how intermittency controls downstream water quality, 2) educate and train scientists from diverse backgrounds in collaborative science and interdisciplinary methods to study intermittent streams, and 3) provide workforce training in environmental 'big data' tools including microbiome sequencing, environmental sensors for hydrology and water quality, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through a new program On Ramps to Data Science. The project will support 18 faculty members (50% early-career researchers; ECR) in five EPSCoR jurisdictions (AL, ID, KS, MS, OK), and will hire and train one project manager, two postdoctoral researchers, and 11 graduate students in a collaborative environment. ECRs will benefit from support, mentoring and networking programs, while mid- and late-career faculty will gain new skills focused on Data Science, new skills and new collaborators. The AIMS Undergraduate Program (AIMS UP) will recruit two students per summer from regional partners, such as Haskell Indian Nations University, Alabama A&M, and the Shoshone-Bannock Summer Youth Program. The overarching objective is to create research infrastructure and training capable of integrating data streams needed to address water quality and its links to microbiomes at the critical nexus between intermittent and perennial stream ecosystems.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/1/198/31/24

Funding

  • National Science Foundation: $5,097,526.00

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