Fresh from the Field, March 22, 2018

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Fresh from the Field is a weekly album showcasing transformative impacts made by partners supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Editor: Falita Liles                                                                                                 March 22, 2018

Success Stories 

Fresh from the FIeld  Falita Liles USDA Photo

Integrating Two Types of Crop Models to Predict the Effect of Climate Change on Crop Yields

Researchers from University of Illinois (UI) are attempting to bridge two types of computational crop models to become more reliable predictors of crop production in the U.S. Corn Belt.

“One class of crop models is agronomy-based and the other is embedded in climate models or earth system models. They are developed for different purposes and applied at different scales. Because each has its own strengths and weaknesses, our simple idea is to combine the strengths of both types of models to make a new crop model with improved prediction performance,” said Kaiyu Guan, the principal investigator of this research.

Guan and his team implemented and evaluated a new maize growth model by combining superior features in both Community Land Model and Agricultural Production Systems Simulator.

NIFA supports this project through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Read the full story at College News at UI. USDA Photo.

News Coverage 

Photo by Neal Herbert National Park Service Ruffed Grouse Fresh from the Field Falita Liles

Detecting Capture-Related Mortality in Radio-Marked Birds Following Release

Researchers at the University of Maine are researching the fundamental assumption of avian survival analysis; that the act of capture, handling, and marking birds does not affect subsequent survival. This assumption is violated if animals experience injury, physiological stress, or disorientation during capture and handling that increases their mortality risk following release. Such capture-related effects must be accounted for during analysis, typically by censoring individuals from the survival history, to avoid biasing the resulting survival estimates.

They reviewed studies of radio-marked upland game birds to characterize researcher approaches for addressing short-term effects of capture on survival, and used data from a study of Ruffed Grouse to illustrate an empirical approach for evaluating such effects and identifying time thresholds to censor birds that die shortly after release. A majority of studies (65 percent) reported using some form of censoring for mortality that occurred within one to three weeks after release, although only 8 percent of studies reported an empirical approach to identify a threshold for censorship. The researchers found that Ruffed Grouse mortality was greater from one to six days following release when compared with seven to 30 days. 

NIFA supports this project through the McIntire-Stennis Capacity Grant Program.

Read the full article at Avian Conservation and Ecology. Photo by Neal Herbert/National Park Service.

The Library 

I-TOPP Group Photo Team Anna Keck Program Director Fresh from the Field  Falita Liles

Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP)

Over the past 30 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has doubled in 2- to 5-year-olds and tripled in children aged 6 to 11 years. NIFA, in 2011, funded the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP), a joint doctoral/Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree program, at the University of Illinois (UI) with the goal of training future leaders to address the problem of childhood obesity.

“We know the causes of childhood obesity are multifactorial, involving both genetic and environmental causes,” said Sharon Donovan, professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at UI and director of I-TOPP. “Of the environmental factors, family routines, nutrition, food security, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep are all important.

The program’s transdisciplinary approaches span beyond the expertise of instructors and researchers within academia and also involve community stakeholders. These approaches, which are often a component of team science, teach students to master and then integrate broad methods to find solutions to complex public health problems such as childhood obesity.

NIFA supports this research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

Read the full article at College News at UI. Photo credit: Anna Keck/UI.

Tweet of the Week


Fresh from the Field tweet March 22 2018