Ned Fetcher  



Project Coordinator
Ph. D. 1977. Colorado State University

Research Interests
My research has includes ecology and demography of plants in Arctic tundra, physiological ecology of tropical plants, and food webs of grasslands in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Local adaptation of plant populations into ecotypes is a potentially crucial limitation on range expansion in the face of a rapidly changing climate. A 30-year reciprocal transplant experiment with the tussock cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum), has revealed local ecotypic specialization as well as adaptational lag, which is manifested when local populations fail to adapt to rapid environmental changes. Tussock cottongrass is presently a dominant component of moist tussock tundra, but is susceptible to competition from more rapidly growing deciduous shrubs under warming conditions. If populations of cottongrass in the circumpolar region fail to adapt rapidly to a warmer Arctic climate, shrubs such as dwarf birch (Betula nana) could replace them. Our research has two objectives: 1)  To investigate the genetic factors that lead to local adaptation in cottongrass. Genetic markers will be used to determine patterns of genetic diversity and gene flow for populations of cottongrass in northern Alaska.  2) To test the hypothesis that local adaptation and adaptational lag will have important consequences for plant phenology, photosynthesis, primary productivity, plant growth, and nutrient cycling. These processes are measured in gardens that include both transplants and plants exposed to warming with open-top chambers to simulate the combined effects of northward migration of southern ecotypes and climate warming.

Lehigh Gap Food Web

Honors and Awards
Bullard Fellowship - Harvard University (1991-1992)
University of Puerto Rico EPSCoR Productivity Award (1996)
Powerpoint Presentation