Environmental Science

Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

The Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL) is an interdisciplinary ecology research and teaching unit at Colorado State University. Our mission is to improve understanding of the complex interactions between ecosystems, humans, and management activities.


Pollutants and their health impacts

The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has numerous experts who track environmental pollutants and look for patterns of specific diseases within communities (such as specific cancers caused from water found to be contaminated or visits to emergency rooms for heart and respiratory problems related to hourly air pollution fluctuations). Other researchers are investigating the impact of pollutants and common household chemicals on specific kinds of cancers and other health conditions, including reproductive system conditions that may pass from generation to generation.


Shortgrass Steppe Long-Term Ecological Research project

Faculty in the Soil and Crop Sciences Department lead the Shortgrass Steppe Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project, located at the Central Plains Experimental Range and the Pawnee Grasslands about 60 miles northeast of Fort Collins. This is one of 26 sites, each representing a diverse ecosystem and research emphasis in the National Science Foundation’s network of LTER sites across the country. The collaborative network involves more than 1,800 scientists and students investigating ecological processes over long temporal and broad spatial scales. It maintains a common mission, sharing expertise, data and infrastructure for cross-site research.


UVB Monitoring and Research Program

Since 1992, Colorado State’s UVB Monitoring and Research Program has created research stations in 26 states to measure ultraviolet radiation and to determine its effects on agriculture and human health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the $1.85 million program in Colorado State’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, based in the Warner College of Natural Resources. Solar measurements from the UV to the near infrared are made every three minutes at 36 climate stations established by Colorado State. This critical information — unavailable from any other source — is used by researchers at USDA, NASA, NOAA and EPA. These measurements can be applied on a global scale and allow scientists to make global predictions on how various mitigation strategies would work at reducing pollution and greenhouse warming effects of aerosols around the world.