Contact person: Emily Zimmerman or Lisa Schulte Moore

The Iowa landscape is highly productive with respect to the production of commodity goods (i.e., corn, soybeans, cattle, etc.) but often neglects to deliver other ecosystem services such as clean water, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and pollination. In this research project we are assessing the opportunity to adapt the current agricultural system to produce a more diverse suite of ecosystem service outcomes by strategically integrating best management practices using targeted conservation accompanied by a payment for ecosystem services scheme. 

Contact person: Lisa Schulte Moore

Working with an interdisciplinary team of scientists, we are devloping a portfolio of alternatve biomass cropping systems and comparing them to a conventional corn system in terms of their ability to meet agronomic, economic, and environmental performance criteria.

Contact person: Robert Valek and Lisa Schulte Moore

People in Ecosystems/Watershed Integration (PEWI) is a simple spreadsheet tool designed to provide a scientific platform for teaching, discussing, and evaluating agricultural watershed management. PEWI encourages users to think through the complexity of social-ecological systems and their associated trade-offs, and build comprehensive understanding of system outputs and outcomes at multiple scales.

Contact person: Jordan Giese or Lisa Schulte Moore

Globally, there is a growing need to balance agricultural production and conservation. In the Midwestern US, there may be opportunities to mitigate the toll that food production takes on wildlife and ecosystem services associated with prairies. Biogas production provides economic incentive for the restoration of native prairies in areas historically devoted to intensive agriculture. Past research has demonstrated that integrating diverse, native, perennial vegetation into landscapes provides a promising approach for striking a balance between biodiversity and production. However, it is still unclear how different levels of plant community diversity influence biodiversity.

Contact person: Lisa Schulte Moore

Contemporary harvesting practices frequently result in simplification of structure and composition in managed forest stands in comparison to their natural counterparts. Loss of heterogeneity within stands may pose a problem for maintaining of biodiversity in perpetuity. In this research project we are assessing forest bird response to alternative forest management practices within red pine ecosystems by determining which elements of heterogeneity are important and whether some harvesting scenarios provide more beneficial habitat than others.

Contact person: Lisa Schulte Moore

High severity winds are a natural phenomenon that can cause broad-scale catastrophic disturbances in forested systems. Catastrophic windthrows change not only the canopy structure through the removal of dominant trees, but also the soil and moisture conditions, tree recruitment patterns, and understory vegetation growth related to microtopography conditions. Forest recovery after catastrophic windthrow is less commonly studied than the effects of damage itself. Understanding the effects of catastrophic wind events on forest systems is important not only for informing current forest management practices, but also because the frequency of such storms may increase in the future.

Contact person: Julia Dale, Matt Stephenson, or Lisa Schulte Moore

Although perennial vegetation is known to provide beneficial ecosystem services, there is insufficient information about the type, quantity, and spatial arrangements of perennial vegetation to optimally integrate it into agricultural landscapes. This team of scientists working to fill this information need.