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United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel

Biological Sciences Professor Paul Barnes joined an elite team of scientists from around the world on the United Nations Environment Programme’s Environmental Effects Assessment Panel to investigate the latest effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, which will culminate in a report published once every four years. In Feb. 23-March 3, 2014 the committee met in Cuernavaca, Mexico, to detail how additional UV rays seeping through the Earth’s atmosphere affect human health, manufactured materials, ecological systems, climate change and other areas. The group will meet again this August in Zhengzhou, China. Barnes’ contribution to the international research effort focuses on what happens to plants and ecosystems under the diminished ozone layer. Ozone depletion and the resulting increased UV could affect things like how fast dead plant material decomposes—ultimately affecting the availability of vital nutrients for plants and soil. Plants exposed to more of the sun’s harmful rays also react by adding more “sunscreen” chemicals to their leaves for protection, according to Barnes. Those consequences have a complicated domino effect on the entire ecosystem, disruptively flowing through the entire food chain. For example, when plants change chemically for sun protection, it can affect the herbivores that eat the plants, according to Barnes. Barnes also lent his expertise to the European Union March 30 in Bled, Slovenia. He acted as an outside evaluator, providing feedback on UV and climate change research funded by the EU. Barnes will work with the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, which coordinates nationally funded research for Europe.

Relevant web sites:

Associated publications and presentations by Dr. Barnes include:

Barnes, P.W., H.L. Throop, S.R. Archer, D. D. Breshears, R.L. McCulley, and M.A. Tobler.  2014.  Sunlight and soil-litter mixing:  drivers of litter decomposition in drylands.  Progress in Botany (In Press).

Wargent, J.J., B.C.W. Nelson, T.K. McGhie, and P.W. Barnes.  2014.  Acclimation to UV-B radiation and visible light in Lactuca sativa involves up regulation of photosynthetic performance and orchestration of metabolome-wide responses.  Plant, Cell & Environment (In Press).

Barnes, P.W., A.R. Kersting, S.D. Flint, W. Beyschlag, and R.J. Ryel.  2013.  Adjustments in epidermal UV-transmittance in sun-shade transitions.  Physiologia Plantarum 149: 200-213.  DOI: 10.1111/ppl.12025.    

Barnes, P.W., M.A. Tobler, A.E. Barkley, S.D. Flint, R.J. Ryel, K.M. Keefover-Ring, R.L. Lindroth.  2014.  Rapid changes in UV-shielding in plants:  mechanisms, species patterns and physiological significance.  European Union COST Action UV4growth Final Meeting, Bled, Slovenia. (Invited Presentation) A.E. Barkley was an Environmental Studies Minor.

Levi, E.M., S.R. Archer, H.L. Throop, K.I. Predick, P.W. Barnes, and M.A. Tobler.  2013.  Soil deposition and UV radiation influence litter decomposition in a shrub-invaded dryland ecosystem.  RISE Conference, Tucson, AZ (poster).

Barnes, Paul. W., Mark A Tobler, Stephan D. Flint, Ronald J. Ryel, Kenneth Keefover-Ring, and Richard L. Lindroth.  2013.  Diurnal changes in leaf UV-absorbing compounds and epidermal UV-transmittance.  Ecological Society of America, Minneapolis, MN, August 2013.  Oral presentation.