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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Building research and teaching capacity to aid climate change and natural resource management at the National University of Mongolia

PI: Nachin Baatarbileg (National University of Mongolia)
U.S. Partner: Amy Hessl (West Virginia University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to February 2016
Climate change affects a wide range of natural resources, including pasture, croplands, forests, and water, and has increased the vulnerability of herders and those who live in remote forest areas. Effective solutions for problems related to climate change adaptation and natural resources management require well coordinated, science based national policies and priorities that are developed with the engagement of government stakeholders and civil society. Mongolia has limited human, technical, and financial capacities to address the multi-faceted threat caused by climate change. Institutions for higher education and research in Mongolia face difficulties in providing high-quality and relevant instruction and research, retaining staff, and ensuring adequate working environments and career prospects.
The main target area for the research to be carried out under this project is the Central Khangai region, a typical Central Asian forest-steppe region in which climate change impacts are negatively impacting both the environment and socioeconomic development. Central Khangai has few environmental monitoring stations and limited records of past climate data, so the dendroclimatic data to be compiled as part of this project is urgently needed. Through the training components and support for students to conduct their own research, the project should strengthen the institutional capacity and performance of the National University of Mongolia to deliver quality education and research, with due attention to gender balance considerations. It should also facilitate increased U.S.-Mongolian collaboration in an important research area.

Summary of Recent Activities
The entire project team including project PI, co-PI, and graduate students participated in the fourth Asian Dendrochronological conference in Kathmandu, Nepal from March 2 - 14, 2015. In total, team members gave two oral presentations and three posters were presented by master’s students. One of which, “Dendroecological study on Siberian larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb) in Udleg Forest Area, Mongolia” won the best dendroecological study award. The team is also reworking the posters into articles for a June publication in the scientific journal Dendrochronlologia.

Starting mid-March, the student team members began to finish the primary results of the latest fieldwork and prepare presentations for the annual scientific research competition. In the resulting competition, Narmandakh Ganbaatar won the second best among graduate students and the undergrad student won the second best among undergrads at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of the National University of Mongolia. Both students made great improvements in their analyzing and presenting skills over the past year.

The team also worked in cooperation with the WATERCOPE project at National University of Mongolia. The primary goal of which was to reconstruct the streamflow of the Bulgan River in Western Mongolia using tree ring samples that were collected from this region. PhD student Oyunmunkh Byambaa and undergrad student Sainbayar Gombo are now working on the final analysis of this reconstruction work which measures 613 years of tree ring chronology (1402-2013) from roughly 50 tree cores with prolonged Ankhnii Khoton chronology (Davi et al., 2010) of about 77 years. Using the DendroClim program, the ring width growth was tested to explore whether annual growth was controlled by climate variables (temperature and precipitation). The growth showed a high correlation with summer temperatures and based on the primary results, a short abstract was submitted to an upcoming June conference at National University of Mongolia.

In May, the team plans to host a workshop for both undergrad and graduate students interested in isolating and growing invito cultures of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi from Larch Forest at the Forest Research and Training Center of the National University of Mongolia. The team will also finish the archaeological collection of monasteries and wooden crafts and plan to conduct the fieldwork from the end of May to August 2015 in the central Khangai mountain ranges.
2-296 Project Work
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