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Institute helps teachers deepen their knowledge of ecosystems

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

Tiny organisms critical to life processes

What do cheese production, sewage treatment, and insect-resistant corn have in common? Without microbes, none of these things would be possible

Fungi assist in decomposition, team with plants to boost absorption

In late summer, after a couple of rainy afternoons, I happened to see several huge mushrooms under a pine tree at the Cary Institute. Mushrooms can be a little deceptive because they appear so suddenly, often seemingly overnight

Why you should care about ozone warnings

From Beijing to Beacon, air pollution alerts are rampant this summer. One of the primary causes for these alerts is high levels of "bad" ozone.

Airborne pollutants harm diverse habitats

If you are living in the eastern United States, the environment around you is being harmed by air pollution.

Observation network to help study Hudson River estuary

A collaborative monitoring project called the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System has been implemented to provide continuous real-time data about estuary conditions in the Hudson River such as temperature, salinity, and pollutant loads.

The Army Corps of Engineers vs. muskrat engineers: Nature declared winner

Muskrats have caused levee collapses in the past and will likely do so in the future.

Let lawn go - and reap the benefits

Today's obsession with perfect, park-like lawns is not only a waste of time and money; it's bad for the environment. Embrace a natural yard, as our household has done on about half of our property.

Puffins' habits change habitat

In 1890, there were about 250,000 pairs of Atlantic puffins breeding on Grassholm, a 22-acre island a few miles off the southwest coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. By 1940, there were only 25 breeding pairs

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.

Is spring coming sooner?

This year, our maples and oaks put out new leaves, and our fruit trees started blooming about two weeks earlier than usual. Is this a symptom of climate change?

forest fire

Fire factor fading

A fire in Minnewaska State Park, which burned more than 3,000 acres, is a reminder of how difficult it can be to control wildfires.

Thorny shrub is a backyard bully

My backyard is being devoured by a silent but aggressive invader, multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). This thorny perennial shrub is an Asian import with arching green stems called canes that can reach 10-15 feet long.

Subtle cues spur awakening

As spring settles in around us, there is a lot of evidence of how organisms and the ecosystems they are part of respond to the shifts in the seasons.

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.

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. 

Chinese mitten crabs: Invasive species found in Hudson

Look for a new animal in the Hudson this summer. The Chinese mitten crab is at our doorstep.

Streams cleanse water as they move it

On their journey toward the ocean, small streams carry materials from adjacent terrestrial ecosystems. For decades this capacity to transport salts, soils and organisms was viewed as the primary ecological function of streams.

Biofuels no easy answer

We have passed a tipping point in the search for "carbon-neutral" energy sources, leading to an explosion of interest in the use of plant-derived ethanol and biodiesel as a replacement for fossil fuels.

Acid rain problem lingers

Cary Institute scientists have provided leadership in acid rain research, but acid rain is not limited to our area—it occurs widely across the eastern United States, Europe, China, and other industrialized areas around the world.

Plodding process lets invasive species take hold

A new invader is about to carve out a home in the Hudson River. Chinese mitten crabs, native to Eastern Asia, have been spotted in the Hudson and along our East Coast several times since last June.

Forest change offers insight

While walking through the woods in the Hudson Valley, it is common to stumble upon the remnants of stone walls. Now mossy and overgrown, they date back to a time when agriculture dominated the landscape.

Warmer winters not only effect of climate change

With the cold temperatures of the past few days, one might think it would take sheer gall for me to write a column about global warming.

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