Posted on August 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
More proof that apex predators are critical to their ecosystems
Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem may be benefiting from the presence of wolves, according to a new study. Photo courtesy ChrisServheen/USFWS.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — There’s no question that top predators have profound impacts on their ecosystems, but sometimes those relationships play out in unexpected ways. New research by scientists from Oregon State University and Washington State University has documented how the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park is helping grizzly bears.
By studying what bears eat, and how wolves affect the behavior of other animals, the biologists found that the return of the wolves is helping to restore a key part of the diet of grizzly bears that has been missing for much of the past century — berries that help bears put on fat before going into hibernation. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, biodiversity, endangered species | Tagged: grizzly bears, Oregon State University, wolves, Yellowstone National Park, Washington State University, wild berries, Yellowstone, apex predators | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 12, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Frozen semen bank, targeted breeding could bolster collapsing colonies
U.S. honeybees may get some help from European relatives. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A promising project by Washington State University researchers may help bolster honey bee colonies that have been in steep decline the past several years. U.S. beekeepers said they lost almost a third of their colonies during the past winter, nearly double the acceptable rate.
The WSU scientists have developed a way to use liquid nitrogen to freeze bee semen, enabling them to use genetic cross-breeding methods to produce more diverse, resilient honey bee subspecies that could help thwart the nation’s current colony collapse crisis. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, biodiversity, agriculture | Tagged: Washington State University, Colony collapse disorder, honey bees, honey bee decline, honey bee colony collapse, Western honey bee | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 4, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Herbicide use spikes as weed resistance grows.
Transgenic crops and increasingly resistant weeds create new problems for growers and consumers
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The use of herbicides associated with the cultivation three key herbicide-tolerant crops of has skyrocketed, increasing by 25 percent annually, according to a new study from Washington State University that analyzed trends in production of cotton, soybeans and corn.
The findings, described as counterintuitive by Washington State University research professor Charles Benbrook, are based on public data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service.
The annual increase in the herbicides required to deal with tougher-to-control weeds on cropland planted to GE cultivars has grown from 1.5 million pounds in 1999 to about 90 million pounds in 2011. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, agriculture | Tagged: Genetic engineering, Washington State University, agriculture, Roundup, GE crops, herbicides, transgenic crops | 2 Comments »
Posted on September 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Over-harvesting increases confrontations between wild cats and humans
A Washington cougar. Photo courtesy Rich Beausoleil/Washington Dept. of Fish and Game.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a study that could have implications for predator management on a broader scale, biologists with Washington State University say that the state’s current cougar management scheme wasn’t working as intended.
Whether hunters killed 10 percent or 35 percent of cougars, the population remained the same. The old paradigm of wildlife management would explain this by saying the remaining population increased reproduction to make up for hunting. But this was not the case, the researchers said, explaining that an over-harvest of cougars can increase negative encounters between the predator and humans, livestock and game.
Based on the the 13-year study, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is implementing a new cougar management plan based on equilibrium management. Hunters will remove no more than the surplus of animals that would be generated through natural reproduction. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, biodiversity, wildlife | Tagged: Environment, wildlife, outdoors, hunting, biodiversity, Washington State University, Washington, cougars | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Reservoir drawdowns appear to have the potential to increase heat-trapping methane in the atmosphere.
Study measures increased methane emissions as reservoir levels drop
By Summit Voice
Lowering water levels in reservoirs may significantly increase emissions of heat-trapping methane gas, according to Washington State University researchers who measured dissolved gases in the water column of Lacamas Lake.
Graduate student Bridget Deemer found methane emissions jumped 20-fold when the water level was drawn down. A fellow WSU-Vancouver student, Maria Glavin, sampled bubbles rising from the lake mud and measured a 36-fold increase in methane during a drawdown.
Methane is 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. And while dams and the water behind them cover only a small portion of the earth’s surface, they harbor biological activity that can produce large amounts of greenhouse gases. There are also some 80,000 dams in the United States alone, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Inventory of Dams.
“Reservoirs have typically been looked at as a green energy source,” Deemer said. “But their role in greenhouse gas emissions has been overlooked.” Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, global warming, Dillon Reservoir, climate and weather | Tagged: global warming, climate, Greenhouse gas, methane, Washington State University, reservoirs, Ecological Society of America | Leave a comment »