Chris Kucharik, professor of agronomy and environmental studies, is one of several co-principal investigators of a new study centered around efforts to understand, predict and prevent abrupt ecological changes.

Chris Kucharik

The new UW–Madison effort is called ACES, for Abrupt Change in Ecological Systems. ACES is one of several multidisciplinary projects funded by the UW2020 initiative, and among the first selected for the competitive grant program underwritten by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

As noted in the recent UW-Madison news release announcing the effort, abrupt ecological changes can take many forms–from algal blooms to forest fires to population shifts in response to disease outbreak or other factors–and they can quickly lead to changes in biodiversity, natural resources and human well-being.

“Understanding abrupt change in ecological systems is among the biggest challenges in contemporary ecology,” says ACES lead principal investigator Monica Turner, a professor of ecology and integrative biology.

The project’s other co-PIs include Stephen Carpenter, newly retired as director of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Center for Limnology; integrative biology professor Tony Ives; and geography professor and former director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research Jack Williams.

“People are all working together,” Turner says. “We study different systems using varied methods with the common goal of understanding fast changes in the world around us.”

To learn more, visit the UW-Madison News website.