My current research project is examining the effects of climate change on vernal ponds using experimental mesocosms. It is expected that not only will the Northeast get warmer, but rainfall will become more variable. I currently have 81 experimental ponds ~1.75 m in diameter and ~.6 m deep in the ground at Jericho Research forest in Jericho Vermont. I have nine different treatment levels of two different factors, drying rate (base hydroperiod) and rainfall probability/intensity. I sample insect populations each week in and examine how population dynamics change with rainfall. I also received a DDIG to explore how climate change impacts selection on populations of Daphnia.
The Impact of Variable Precipitation on Vernal Pond Community Structure and Population Dynamics
This research is my initial examination of rainfall changes coming with climate change. In this I used 54 gallon tubs as artificial mesocosms and manipulated mean water level and water level variance. I didn't see a strong response to my variance treatments, but did see responses to mean water level changes. The most interesting result was a change in the population dynamics of the system, with decreasing or increasing density dependence depending on the taxa. I gave a talk on this during ESA 2008. I hope to submit a paper on this soon to Ecology or Ecology Letters.