There are 2.6 million miles of paved roads in the United States, and new roads are being constructed daily. When parking lots and driveways are factored in, there is already enough blacktopped surface in the U.S. to cover the entire state of Ohio. Paved roads and parking spaces come in handy for our nation’s drivers, but they also come with a serious unforeseen cost— the degradation of freshwater ecosystems.
The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) is a collaborative of over 30 researchers, educators and policy makers working together to understand how urban ecosystems function. Led by Institute Distinguished Senior Scientist Dr. Steward T. A. Pickett, other IES staff members involved in the effort include: Microbial Ecologist Dr. Peter M. Groffman, Educator Dr. Alan R. Berkowitz, BES Education Coordinator Ms. Janie Gordon, BES Information Manager Mr. Jonathan Walsh, and Administrative Assistant Ms. Holly Beyar.
Last month, over 80 distinguished scientists from around the world gathered at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies (IES) to participate in a conference on infectious disease ecology. From West Nile Virus and Ebola to Sudden Oak Death, emerging infectious diseases threaten human health, wildlife, livestock, agriculture, and forests. Once established, infectious diseases are economic and ecological burdens that can cause, in some cases, irreversible damage.
Sporadic weather events can alter the structure of forests. When subject to intense climate conditions, trees face new survival obstacles. The recent tsunami activity in Southeast Asia is testimony to nature’s ability to alter the landscape.
Several summers ago, IES post-doctoral Associate Dr. Winsor Lowe, with colleagues, set out to unravel where spring salamanders (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus) find their food. Do animals forage for their insect prey in aquatic or in nearby woodland habitats? If they venture out of the water to hunt, does the vegetation they encounter influence their success?
This past winter, the National Science Foundation renewed funding for the Institute’s long-term research on how the Hudson River is responding to zebra mussels. Introduced in 1991, the invasive bivalves are now the most abundant animals in the river. Institute scientists have generated the longest published record of this invasive species.