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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that hydroelectric power is an environmentally benign source of energy. It is renewable (unlike oil), doesn't generate noxious waste (unlike nuclear power), and wouldn't seem to produce harmful greenhouse gases (unlike coal).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.