Understanding, preserving Colorado Plateau’s biological heritage
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Understanding, preserving Colorado Plateau’s biological heritage

>>Stefan Sommer: And I just want to tell you
we are very excited that President Haeger and the Arizona Board of Regents have designated
this center for research and teaching about the Colorado Plateau and biological diversity.
>>Theresa Bierer: Northern Arizona University’s new Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center will
bring together people from different departments on campus to promote research and education
and to understand global climate change impact on species.
>>Laura Huenneke: This center is an idea, a concept that came forth from the generous
and creative ideas of our faculty abut an interdisciplinary opportunity to work more
effectively to advance a general area of teaching and research which our institution has long
been committed and that is the understanding and the preservation of the biological diversity,
the natural heritage of the Colorado Plateau.>>Gary Allen: Well this center is an extremely
important move for the university, primarily because it brings together numerous scientists,
research and research staff at the NAU campus that had been primarily in different departments,
located in different buildings. And have to as much of a degree as possible worked together,
but have still worked pretty much separately. Bierer: The new center is already conducting
research on the biodiversity of the plateau with more than 1.7 million dollars in funding.
An important part of the center, the collections, which were started on campus more than 80
years ago.>>Sommer: We currently have in the Colorado
Plateau Biodiversity Center over 400,000 specimens representing species from the Colorado Plateau
and other regions for comparative purposes. These collections include fossils, fungi,
plants, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, as well as a whole sweep
of genetic libraries. Which help to keep our research at the edge of understanding species
on the Colorado Plateau in terms of being able to conserve those species, understand
their ecology and understand how they fit into ecological systems and ecosystem function.
>>Huenneke: The collections as well are not just collections of static specimens; they
are research enterprises, whether looking at the genetics, looking at the physiology,
looking at today’s population structure of those same species. So these collections that
represent the foundation of this biodiversity center are a really crucial part of the heritage
of the Colorado Plateau and the resource base of this university as a research and an educational
enterprise.>>Bierer: The Colorado Plateau Biodiversity
Center’s collections and faculty curators support 29 university courses across 5 NAU
departments, along with a variety of undergraduate and graduate internships.

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