Friday, 13 September 2013

Ragweed models and Bird Island measurements - CEH paperblog 6

In our latest paperblog, we first highlight two new papers resulting from a European Commission-funded project to assess and control the spread and effects of Common ragweed in Europe. Accurate models are needed to forecast the progress and impact of alien invasive species. For Common ragweed Ambrosia artemisiifolia such forecasts are extremely important as the species is a serious crop weed and its airborne pollen is a major cause of allergy and asthma in humans.

Newly published in Global Change Biology, Dan Chapman leads the paper, "Phenology predicts the native and invasive range limits of common ragweed", collaborating with CEH colleague Prof James Bullock and researchers from the UK, Austria and South Africa. Their study shows that phenology can be a key determinant of species' range margins, and thus integrating phenology into species distribution models can offer great potential for the mechanistic modelling of range dynamics.

Dan and James are co-authors of a second paper entitled "An operational model for forecasting ragweed pollen release and dispersion in Europe", published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology and led by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. This study produces the first European-scale simulation of ragweed pollen concentrations. The modelling illustrates the potential for a relatively localized invasive species to produce impacts on human health at a continental scale.

The remote Bird Island in the south Atlantic is home to large seabird and seal colonies, including Macaroni and Gentoo penguins, and Antarctic fur seals. Our NERC colleagues British Antarctic Survey have a research station there. A new open access paper in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics involving the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, CEH, BAS and Kings College looks at how Bird Island's fauna are influencing the composition and characteristics of remote marine aerosol measured on the island. Many aspects of marine aerosol systems are not yet fully understood, but a detailed understanding is essential to quantify more fully the role of marine aerosol in the functioning of the Earth system.

The study, which saw the first stationary deployment of an aerosol mass spectrometer to a field site in the sub-Antarctic, generally found the aerosol to be less acidic than in other marine environments due to the high availability of ammonia from local fauna emissions.

Finally, we highlight a paper by Professor Colin Neal who recently retired from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology but who remains a research fellow of the organisation. Colin's invited commentary in Hydrological Processes discusses "Catchment water quality: the inconvenient but necessary truth of fractal functioning", drawing on his long-term research, particularly at the Plynlimon catchments in Wales (data freely available from the CEH Information Gateway).

Paulette Burns, Media Coordinator

Additional information

If you'd like a fuller picture of new papers from CEH, just follow the CEH Paper Alerts Twitter feed, which lists CEH peer-reviewed papers newly published online. Full details of Centre for Ecology & Hydrology science publications, including those published in peer-reviewed science journals, are eventually catalogued on the NERC Open Research Archive (NORA).

Those of you who follow the scientific literature will know some journal websites require registration and some are subscription-only. CEH, as part of NERC, is working with publishers and funders to make more of our output open access, and we have indicated above where this is the case.

We also publish lots of our other outputs including biological records atlases and project reports. More details can be found in the publications section of the CEH website.

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