Graduate Student - Aurora MacRae-Crearaurorama [at] sas [dot] upenn [dot] edu
I just finished my first year as a graduate student in the Casper Lab. I am interested in microbial diversity and plant communities within the context of global warming. My field site is in the Dalbay Valley of Outer Mongolia. There I am working with researchers of the NSF PIRE Mongolia project at the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) site at Lake Hövsgöl. The grasslands of northern Mongolia are especially susceptible to the drastic ecological changes associated with global warming because of its high latitude. Recent increases in temperature and growing season are only expected to become more extreme. In order to understand the range of effects associated with global warming, we are conducting a series of experiments with respect to four key variables --warming, elevation, grazing pressure and water availability. In association with these experiments, I am investigating shifts in the microbial community composition and function and how they are influenced by the plant community. Experiments like this are necessary to unravel the interconnected complexities of global warming at the most fundamental ecological levels.