A legacy of acid rain has acidified forest soils throughout the northeastern US, lowering the growth rate of trees. In an attempt to mitigate this trend, in 1999 scientists added calcium to an experimental forest in New Hampshire. Tree growth recovered, but a decade later there was a major increase in the nitrogen content of stream water draining the site.
There are many infections in humans which originate from animals. Diseases which spread in this way are called zoonoses. Zika is one example and was first discovered in a monkey with a mild fever in the Zika forest in Uganda in the 1940s. Another is Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome or MERS – which originates in camels.
Of all the ailments that plague people, the majority began like these three: with a bacteria, virus, parasite or other pathogen that jumped from an innocuous animal host to the human population. But there's no global database documenting where these kinds of infections — called zoonoses — might be lying in wait.
When it comes to emerging diseases, the Zika virus is just the tip of the iceberg. New research has revealed several hot spots around the world where diseases are most likely to move from wildlife—wild mammals, specifically—into the human population.
The majority of infectious diseases currently emerging as human epidemics originated in mammals. Yet we still know very little about the global patterns of mammal-to-human pathogen transmission. As a first step, researchers at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and the University of Georgia have assembled summative world maps of what’s on record about mammal-to-human diseases.
In the Adirondacks and the Catskills, beech bark disease is taking out the largest beeches. Emerald ash borer, a little beetle that has killed over 100 million ash trees in the Midwest, is now active throughout the state, including the Capital Region.
In the recent issue of EMBO reports, Barbara Han of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and John Drake of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology call for the creation of a global early warning system for infectious diseases.
HUBBARD BROOK: The Story of a Forest Ecosystem captures the rich history of research at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, including how it has transformed environmental policy, resource management, and forestry practices – locally, regionally, and nationally.
In the 20th century, chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease decimated billions of U.S. trees, in forests and along urban and suburban streets. The tree diseases, caused by invasive pests, effectively changed the face of one American city landscape after another—chestnut trees were virtually wiped out and elms diminished to but a few locations—and cost local governments and homeowners a fortune.
Imported forest pests cause billions of dollars in damages each year, and U.S. property owners and municipalities foot most of the bill. Efforts to prevent new pests are not keeping pace with escalating trade and must be strengthened if we are to slow the loss of our nation’s trees. So reports a team of 16 scientists in a new paper published online today in the journal Ecological Applications.
Last week, a group of researchers published saddening news about "sudden oak death," spread by an invasive water mold, that has killed over a million trees in coastal California. The pathogen, they found, simply cannot be stopped — though it can still be contained, and the harm mitigated. But it is too extensively established now in California to eradicate.
When cheap consumer goods arrive on American shores, they sometimes bring invasive parasites that go on to decimate forests and urban trees. A new study, out Tuesday in the journal Ecological Applications, synthesizes the information available on the true costs of these species and lays out the best available policy responses.
I just read that some of the clams (freshwater mussels, technically) in Scandinavian creeks are thought to live for 280 years. This means that animals alive today were around when Johann Sebastian Bach was still playing the organ in Leipzig, mature adults when shots were fired at Lexington, old enough retire (if clams retired like people) when Napoleon’s armies marched across Europe, and more than 125 years old when Lincoln freed the slaves.
Two institutions in the Hudson Valley have received a $5 million grant for a large-scale study aimed at reducing tick populations and Lyme disease. The five-year project is the first to explore Lyme disease management for entire communities.
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation has awarded a $5 million dollar leadership grant to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies to support a scientific study, being done in partnership with Bard College, that seeks to reduce Lyme disease in neighborhoods.
Spring officially arrived on March 20. I caution myself from likening it to flipping on a light switch. This simplistic idea is born from too many winter days wishing for better weather. Realistically, spring is a transitional period when nature first takes halting, then cascading, steps from the scarcity of winter into the riotous surplus of summer.
A recent BioScience paper provides the first comprehensive inventory of the world’s biological field stations. Its authors report 1,268 stations are operating in 120 countries – from the tropics to the tundra, monitoring terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.
Letter signed by 65 research scientists sent to U.S. senators working on the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The Senate has accepted an amendment to the act which would legally designate forest biomass to be "carbon neutral."
Genetic engineering may allow us to rebirth close facsimiles of extinct species. But would bringing back a few individuals of a famously gregarious bird like the passenger pigeon truly revive the species, when the great oak forests that sustained them are gone? And if it succeeds, what if the birds don't fit in anymore in our changed world?
The World Health Organization on Monday declared the spread of the Zika virus to be a public health emergency of international concern due to its potential link to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes abnormal head and brain development.
Storm Jonas made it clear how important road salt is for keeping the streets and sidewalks of New York City clear of snow and ice. The Department of Sanitation had more than 300,000 tons of it on hand to deal with Jonas, more than the weight of three aircraft carriers.
"For a long time in environmental science we've done a pretty good job of keeping people outside the box of ecosystems" says Dr. Peter Groffman, who studies the microbial and chemical ecology of urban landscapes and waterways.