Environmental science professor Elizabeth Cook recently co-published new research in the journal
Ecological Monographsunpacking how increased nitrogen levels and water affect an ecosystem's biodiversity. For the paper, titled "Water and Nitrogen Shape Winter Annual Plant Diversity and Community Composition in Near‐Urban Sonoran Desert Preserves," Cook and her colleagues experimented with how changed nutrient levels and precipitation impact seasonal plant growth in the Sonoran Desert. Over a 13 year period, the researchers found that increased nitrogen led to decreased biodiversity, raising concerns about the long term effects of urban and natural environment interactions. In line with Cook's academic interests in sustainability and the impacts humans have on their environment, this new research provides an opportunity to understand how desert ecosystems can be best preserved.