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KU prof leading $4.2M river study to predict effects of climate change, development

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Lawrence Journal-World published a separate article on the KU-led river macrosystems study funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Read the full article.


Effort is largest-scale research project of its kind; field work will span 18 rivers in Mongolia and United States

Leading the broadest ever study of river macrosystems is bound to take one to some remote territory.

The next few summers will find Kansas University professor James Thorp and teams of researchers in areas of Mongolia up to eight hours away from the nearest city. They’ll be sleeping in yurts, trolling vast rivers in jonboats and plucking specimens from giant Mongolian trout and other fish and water insects.

They’ll do similar work on U.S. rivers — covering 18 rivers in all, nine in each country.

Thorp is lead investigator on the study, enabled by a recently announced $4.2 million National Science Foundation grant. He said KU is getting about half of the hefty grant total, and the rest will be divided among eight other universities he’s teaming with, including one in Mongolia.

“We want to do this to help both countries predict changes and maybe control their environment better than we do now,” Thorp said. “We want to understand how to manage rivers.”

The study’s ultimate goal is two-fold, said Thorp, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and a senior scientist with KU-based Kansas Biological Survey.

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