Originally brought to the U.S. from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East for cattle forage and erosion control in the 1930s, invasive buffelgrass increases the risk of wildfires and is a threat to native species throughout the Southwest. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Arizona is working to create a spatial-human-ecology model to predict interactions between natural and human systems to better mitigate buffelgrass' impact on local biodiversity. Focusing on Pima County, the team will conduct experiments on how buffelgrass responds to different ecological conditions and to various types of treatment.
The team, consisting of faculty from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, received a $1.58 million grant from the National Science Foundation's CNH2: Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems program.
The principal investigator of the grant is Elizabeth Baldwin, assistant professor in the School of Government and Public Policy. Other team members include Adam Henry, associate professor in the School of Government and Public Policy; Mitchel McClaran, professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Elise Gornish, Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment; and Aaron Lien, assistant research scientist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment.
"Protecting the biodiversity of our unique area of the world is critical. This invasive species is contributing to some very serious environmental problems, including wildfires, and its eradication is vitally important," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins.