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FLC professor’s research on CO2 and plant growing seasons gains national attention

Dr. Heidi Steltzer talks with students in her botany class.
Dr. Heidi Steltzer talks with students in her botany class.

Dr. Heidi Steltzer, Fort Lewis College assistant professor of biology, was part of a research team looking at how higher atmospheric CO2 concentration resulting from fossil fuel pollution affected the growing season of plants. The research project was a partnership between Fort Lewis College, Colorado State University, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

The research, published in publications from Nature to the NY Times, shows that the growing season starts earlier due to climate warming and ends later due to elevated CO2, especially when water availability limits plant activity. This leads to a longer growing season.

“Studies like ours highlight the need to better understand the impacts of environmental changes that happen at the same time,” explains Dr. Steltzer. “It is important not to look at one environmental change in isolation. Similarly, the same would apply to impacts. In the broader context, elevated CO2 has other detrimental impacts, although our study shows an apparent benefit on lengthening the growing season.”

To read more about Dr. Steltzer’s research, visit any of these publications:

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