Nancy C. Emery

Niwot Ridge LTER
Niwot Ridge, Front Range of Colorado, Southern Rocky Mountains

Nancy Emery is the Principal Investigator of the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research program and an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research program focuses on understanding plant adaptation in spatially and temporally variable environments and the role of evolutionary processes in shaping plant responses to global change.

Rugged Terrain Shapes Alpine Responses to Climate Change: Long-term Trends and Experimental Insights from the Niwot Ridge LTER

Perched above treeline in the most extensive mountain range in North America, the Rocky Mountain tundra is one the most rugged and extreme ecosystems occupied by life on the planet. The Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project in the Colorado Front Range of the Southern Rockies has been monitoring plants, animals, and microbial dynamics for over 40 years, providing a rare opportunity to examine how the components of alpine ecosystems are changing as air temperature rises due to human-mediated climate change. Our long-term data indicate that species’ responses to warming conditions vary widely among taxa and across the landscape, depending heavily on the distribution of temperature and snow across the terrain. Results from long-term experiments us understand the mechanisms that drive population, community, and ecosystem responses to warming and inform computational models that aim to predict the future of this system in a rapidly changing world.

Nancy C. Emery headshot


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