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Ecological research in urban setting requires innovative methods

While most ecologists conduct field work in natural settings, Cary Institute scientists have pioneered the inclusion of urban and suburban landscapes in ecological research.

Biogeochemistry: Crucial to solving environmental problems

The Gulf of Mexico is home to a dead zone roughly the size of New Jersey. Inhospitable waters are caused by excess nitrogen that originates from distant Mid- western agribusinesses.  

Nurturing ecological understandIng

During the summer months, the Cary Institute’s campus bustles with educational activity. From campers getting their first introduction to climate change while exploring our property, to undergraduates conducting research projects under the mentorship of Cary Institute scientists—our staff is committed to nurturing ecological understanding in learners of all ages. 

Tracking the spread of ecological pests

Cary Institute ecologist Dr. Shannon L. LaDeau is working to understand how environmental conditions influence the spread of undesirable pests and pathogens such as West Nile virus and the hemlock wooly adelgid. This work includes understanding the dynamics of pest communities and taking into account things like land use, climate change, and combined stressors.

Cary Institute president advises Al Gore on climate change

Cary Institute President Bill Schlesinger participated in a roundtable discussion with Former Vice President Al Gore in New York City in mid-January.

Small wetlands support bIodiversity and freshwater resources

In early spring, shortly after the snow melts, vernal pools dot the landscape. Isolated from larger water bodies, these small wetlands are usually only wet for a few months out of the year. If you are not paying attention, you just might miss them. And that would be a shame, because these oft-overlooked wetlands are valuable and interesting ecosystems.

Policymakers urged to adopt biofuel standards

Cellulose-based biofuels hold promise, but we need to proceed cautiously. 

Summer institute for teachers

Teacher training can infuse classrooms with current scientific thinking. When teachers are confident and engaged in new concepts, students benefit.

The mussel in the rainforest

This past summer, we unexpectedly found a very rare freshwater mussel in one of the small tributaries of the Housatonic River basin – a species that hadn’t been seen in the region since 1843.

Farms, fish, and nitrogen pollution

How is the fish on your dinner plate tied to agricultural fertilizer? Let’s use the ecosystem approach to think about the big picture. On land, nitrogen-rich fertilizer is applied to crops to stimulate production. 

Today's science, tomorrow's solution: embracing a new name and a strategic plan

Change is underway at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. For over two decades, the Cary Institute has been at the forefront of ecological research. Now, in an effort to maximize the organization’s influence on environmental policy, it’s embracing solution-driven science and enhanced outreach.

Notes from the field: Lessons from the city

As the Director of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), a Long Term Ecological Research project, I work with colleagues to reveal how watersheds can be used to understand interactions among social, biophysical, and built environments.

Is biofuel sustainable?

Simply defined, sustainability is ensuring that future generations have access to the resources that we enjoy today. It was the topic of a recent workshop at the Cary Institute, where over forty ecologists discussed the sustainability of biofuel, an emerging source of alternative energy.

Notes from the field: Environmental monitoring- Who needs it?

I have spent many years unraveling how invasive species and air pollution influence forest ecosystems. This research has taken me deep within New York’s Catskill Forest and New Hampshire’s White Mountains—places of amazing natural beauty. Lately, however, I’ve found myself pounding the pavement in Washington, D.C.

A good lawn is a small lawn

The great American lawn is about as far from a natural ecosystem as one can get. These artificial landscapes require an inordinate amount of resources to keep them in the green and manicured condition Americans have come to expect.

Eavesdropping on your neighbors

When making decisions about how to navigate the world, many of us take cues from the people sharing our environment. If your neighbor departs on his morning commute carrying an umbrella, you might reconsider your choice of footwear. Similarly, overhearing your neighbor in a heated argument would probably thwart you from asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some pruning shears.

The changing Hudson project: Bringing ecology into the classroom

For over two decades, IES scientists have been paying close attention to conditions in the Hudson River. Through collaboration and perseverance, they have amassed world-class datasets on invasive species, aquatic food webs, and nutrient pollution. While this information is essential to effective management of the river, it is also a rich resource for educators who want to bring real ecology into the classroom.

The fate of Adirondack lakes

Cary researcher gathers water samples from remote Adirondack lakes via retrofitting a float plane for lake sampling.

Forging a major center for ecology

For almost a quarter of a century, Dr. Gene E. Likens has focused on one overriding goal, fostering excellence in his staff. From the moment he took the helm of the Institute in 1983, he had a simple and steadfast plan: hire the brightest people possible and encourage them to blossom professionally. 

The Ecosystem Literacy Initiative: Learning the Language of Ecosystems

In January, IES announced a new era in its 23-year legacy of education. Dubbed the Ecosystem Literacy Initiative (ELI), this new effort aims to help people think about the ecosystems we depend upon and link that understanding to their daily lives.

To Salt or Not To Salt? Roadways & Parking Lots Threaten Freshwater

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 City As an Ecological Classroom: An Interview with Janie Gordon

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.

Employing ecology to predict and manage emerging infectious diseases

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. 

Undesirable Expatriates: Preventing the Spread of Invasive Animals

Reconsider relocating aquarium fish into your backyard pond. Restrain yourself from ordering exotic pets through the Internet, no matter how interesting they might look in the pictures. 

Modeling Tropical Forests: An Interview with Dr. Maria Uriarte

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.

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