RII Track-1: Linking Genome to Phenome to Predict Adaptive Responses of Organisms to Changing Landscapes
Non-technical Description: Plants and animals live in a fragile balance that can be upset by human land use decisions. This project aims to help landowners, state park planners, city planners, and Native American tribes in Idaho make informed decisions on land use that will minimize the effects on native wildlife. To do this, researchers from several colleges and universities across the state will create tools that will use data from a wide variety of sources including advanced genetics, ecological and geographical databases, and survey results from landowners and Native American tribes. These tools will provide options for land use that will encourage the most effective use of land while minimizing the impacts on native plant and animal species. Through this program, Idaho will engage the public, train the next generation of scientists, and develop exciting new tools that will provide new methods for scientifically informed land use decisions. Technical Description: This Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 project from Idaho will study two keystone species (redband trout and sagebrush) in ecosystems of the American West. The project will use existing environmental legacy data to inform agent-based models (ABM) to predict adaptive capacity of these two species. The project team will determine the links between genomes and phenomes via experiments using temperature as the key variable to identify genomic responses of the adaptive capacity of these species and iteratively link them through the ABM to further inform our understanding of genetic capacity. Finally, the project participants will map species' genomes by environmental outcomes across additional impacts including biotic, abiotic, and various anthropogenic effects and local knowledge through methodologies originating from the social and economic sciences to inform the ABM model. The model will be used to predict the outcomes of various land use scenarios, and will be presented to stakeholder advisory groups who will discuss and make decisions based on the results from simulations. Decisions made by the stakeholder groups will further inform the model. It is expected that this iterative feedback model will be a transformative tool for land use decisions in Idaho and beyond. Additionally, strong workforce development plans will engage faculty, postdocs, graduate, and undergraduate students of the three research universities in Idaho, as well as 2- and 4-year Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) in a Vertically Integrated Project approach that encourages all academic levels of the institution to work together. The inclusion of different types of higher educational institutions across Idaho will address and answer the state?s need for a well-trained workforce in STEM fields. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.