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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve walked much along the Hudson’s shores, you’ve probably seen thorny, black water-chestnut seedpods piled up along the high-tide line, thick stands of common reed in wetlands and along the railroad tracks, mute swans gliding across the water, carp splashing in the shallows, chunky shells of Atlantic rangia on the beaches of Haverstraw Bay, and the thin, sharp shells of zebra mussels littering shorelines from Newburgh north.
Fourteen scientists and one engineer were named by President George W. Bush on May 9, 2002 to receive the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research.