SRS scientist Guo receives excellence award for international collaboration

NORTH CAROLINA — In December, Southern Research Station scientist scientist Qinfeng Guo received an “Award for Excellence in Academic Activities” from the Northeast Normal University in China. The award recognizes Guo’s role in a long-term international collaboration on experimental research in regional grassland ecosystems, focusing on plant-animal interactions. In 2015, Northeast Normal University named Guo a “Changbai Scholar” — an honor based on research achievements of individuals both internal and external to the school.

Guo, a research ecologist with the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, explains that the research collaboration began in 2012 when Dr. Liang-Jun Hu, a Northeast Normal University professor and visiting scholar in the United States, was working at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s National Soil Erosion Research Lab at Purdue University. Hu, already familiar with Guo’s work, proposed a collaboration built upon mutual research interests in biodiversity–ecosystem stability relationships. Several ecologists and students from Northeast Normal University have since joined the project.

“The award is a great honor for me, and it may lead to productive international collaborations in ecological research and education in the future,” says Guo. “Long-term experiments in the grasslands of northeastern China offer excellent opportunities to manipulate grazing activities of herbivores (i.e., cattle, goats, and sheep) that can benefit human needs and long-term native ecosystem health and sustainability.” Examples of such adaptive management that can achieve multiple objectives include using different types of animal grazers as well as adjusting grazer stocking rates and grazing frequency, intensity, and timing.