Auto exhaust at the Grand Canyon may be ruining more than just the view; it might be harming native plants, in particular. The National Park Service wants to know just how harmful excess nitrogen is to the ecosystem, so they offered a grant to soil ecologist Nancy Johnson at Northern Arizona University. Her study involved taking samples of soil, air and pinyon pine needles at the heavily trafficked South Rim.
More than 170 different kinds of bees are pollinating plants in Arizona’s high elevation forests. Flagstaff ecologist Lindsie McCabe wants to know what will happen to them as global temperatures warm. She’s conducting experiments with bees on the San Francisco Peaks, simulating the impact of climate change on native pollinators.
Scientists are concerned that soil in the Southwest is drying out and blowing away from climate change. Flagstaff-based ecologist Matt Bowker believes the key to protecting it lies in the biocrust, or top layer. He calls it "Earth's living skin", and he's growing it in a lab at Northern Arizona University.