I'd like to beg your indulgence to share a few personal thoughts today that were inspired by the recent passing of my friend Scott Meyer. Scott ran the Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, and was one of the most inquisitive and optimistic people I've ever met.
In April 2014, just after world health officials identified a series of suspicious deaths in Guinea as an outbreak of Ebola, 10 ecologists, 4 veterinarians, and an anthropologist traveled to a Guinean village named Meliandou. Theirs was a detective mission to determine how this outbreak began. How had "patient zero," a 2-year-old boy named Emile, contracted the Ebola virus?
In the Hudson Valley, our forests have been shaped by human activities, which have often altered and hidden the roles played by natural processes like climate and soil fertility. For thousands of years, we have been manipulating local plant communities.
Many people don't give a lot of thought to some of the forest animals that may be crossing a road or trying to scurry out of the way as a car comes speeding around a corner. Well, there may be a lot more thought given to opossums, now that they have been connected to being the saviors of human beings against Lyme disease.
Diseases spread by ticks are on the rise around the world, spurred by a combination of factors, including shifting climates and population sprawl into rural areas. Reported cases of Lyme, the most common US tick-borne illness, have nearly tripled in the country since 1992.
Urban ecologists attribute the swell of interest in their discipline to multiple factors, including the realization that human actions are warming the planet, that people are migrating to cities in increasing numbers and evidence that the study of urban ecosystems provides important and practical insights.
If you type anything scientific into Google, the chances are that Wikipedia will be prominently placed in the search results. The fact that other encyclopedias don't get a look in is a sign of just how popular the site is, with crowd-sourced wisdom trusted ahead of the knowledge of select specialists.
Long before our current politicized battles over the science of climate change, vaccines and evolution, there was an older generation of political science fights — over the health effects of smoking and the environmental costs of acid rain and the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer, to name a few.
Wikipedia reigns. It’s the world’s most popular online encyclopedia, the sixth most visited website in America, and a research source most U.S. students rely on. But, according to a paper published today in the journal PLOS One, Wikipedia entries on politically controversial scientific topics can be unreliable due to information sabotage.
By now the lesson is clear: Burning coal and petroleum produces carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that contributes to the warming of our globe. That alone is enough reason to believe fossil fuels are not a sustainable basis for society long-term.
Rick Ostfeld is a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. For decades, he has studied ticks and tick-borne diseases, primarily in the forests and fields of the mid-Hudson Valley.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Lyme disease has substantially expanded over the past few decades, with 17 states in the Northeast and upper Midwest now considered at high risk.
If you don't live in the northeastern United States, you may not think much about diseases transmitted by ticks. If you do live there, or spend part of the summer along the coastal arc that stretches from Virginia and Maryland up through southern Maine, consciousness of these sneaky, potentially disabling illnesses—Lyme disease and its lesser-known brethren, including erlichiosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and the rest—is hard to escape.
What happens when nineteen teachers have the opportunity to study how forest ecosystems function? You get the potential to engage hundreds of students in thinking about forests as dynamic, exciting systems that shape the quality of the world we live in, from cleaning water and cooling the environment to preserving biodiversity.
Preserving habitats and encouraging biodiversity does wonders for plant and animal life, giving them room to thrive without human interference. In recent years some scientists have wondered if biodiversity might also help humans, protecting us from infectious diseases that spread from nonhuman animals to people
In October 2005, five scientists were marooned on a mountain near Yuan Yang Lake in Taiwan. Dead-set on installing a new batch of water quality sensors, the group had ignored an incoming typhoon that washed out the only road behind them, knocking chunks of pavement the size of a garage down the cypress-covered slopes.
Visitors to the Cary Institute's Millbrook campus will admire our diverse woodlands, but may wonder why there are so many standing and fallen dead trees left scattered, sometimes in prominent places. Some might even say that our forests are messy.
Opossums are North America's only native marsupials. An opossum vaguely resembles a cross between a housecat and a giant rat, and while they're tolerated as a relative newcomer to Maine's wilderness — migrating into the state within the last half century or so — they're not especially cherished.