Rattlesnakes and ticks, competition and cannibalistic salamanders, and beneficial, predatory, parasitic Fungi

Presentations on species interactions figure large at ESA’s 2013 annual meeting

 

Media Advisory2013 ESA Logo

For immediate release:  Monday, 29 July 2013

Contact: Nadine Lymn (202) 833-8773 x 205; nadine@esa.org

 

Viper tick removal service

Human cases of Lyme disease continue to rise in the United States. The bacterial disease—which, if untreated can cause significant neurological problems—is transmitted to people by black-legged ticks, which pick up the pathogen by feeding on infected animals, primarily small mammals such as mice.

Timber Rattler Kabay

Timber rattlesnake. Credit: Ed Kabay

Previous studies have shown that when fewer predators of small mammals are present, the abundance of ticks goes up, resulting in an increase of Lyme infections in people. Edward Kabay, at East Chapel Hill High School, together with Nicholas Caruso at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Karen Lips with the University of Maryland, explored how timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) might play a key role in the prevalence of Lyme disease in humans.

They modeled what and how much timber rattlesnakes ate based on published data on snake gut contents for four northeastern localities and determined the number of infected ticks removed from each location. Kabay, Caruso and Lips’ models showed that by eating mammalian prey, the snakes removed some 2,500 – 4,500 ticks from each site annually.  Rattlesnakes eradicated more ticks in areas with greater prey diversity than in habitats with less mammalian diversity. The trio’s research suggests that top predators like the timber rattlesnake play an important role in regulating the incidence of Lyme disease. But decreasing habitat and overharvesting of the snakes is driving their populations down, particularly in northern and upper midwestern areas, where the incidence of Lyme disease is highest. 

The presentation Timber Rattlesnakes may reduce incidence of Lyme disease in the Northeastern United States will take place on Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 4:40 PM in 101 I of the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Presenter contacts:

Edward Kabay, East Chapel Hill High School, ekabay@gmail.com

Nicolas Caruso, University of Alabama, nmcaruso@crimson.ua.edu

Karen Lips, University of Maryland, klips@umd.edu

Unexpected cannibals

Kyle McLean, an Environmental & Conservation Sciences graduate student at North Dakota State University, and his team looked at the two different types of juvenile barred tiger salamanders: the ‘typical’ variety and the rarer, cannibalistic morph.  A morph occurs when the same species exhibits different physical characteristics.  The cannibalistic morph is believed to be a result of plasticity; it’s changed its physical appearance due to environmental pressures.  The typical morph has a smaller head and smaller peg-like teeth compared to the cannibalistic morph’s broader head and sharper recurved teeth, allowing the cannibalistic morph to eat larger prey and, in many cases, other salamanders of the same species.  In water bodies where the morphs occur, they have been observed at less than 30 percent of the local population.  McLean thinks cannibalistic morphs occur at the larval stage when competition for food is highest. 

cannibal morph vomerine teeth by Keith McLean

Cannibal morph vomerine teeth. Credit: Kyle McLean

During the summer of 2012, McLean’s team collected 54 barred tiger salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium diaboli) from a North Dakota lake with a high concentration of fathead minnows that likely compete with larval salamanders for prey. The team measured the salamanders’ body length, skull, and teeth. They concluded that all were cannibalistic. Their snout length was not significantly different from that of typical barred tiger salamanders from a nearby lake, but the cannibalistic morphs had longer and wider skulls and larger, sharp teeth. Typical morphs came from a lake with a low abundance of competitors for food, possibly indicating that the cannibalistic morph occurs where there is a high concentration of predatory competition.

“The presence of cannibal morphs occurring in the barred tiger salamander was an unexpected discovery, but being that that every individual captured from the lake was a cannibal morph and they appear to not be in competition with each other but thousands of fathead minnows is the intriguing story, said McLean. “With future experimentation and data collection hopefully we will be able to better understand the abnormalities of this unique population.”

McLean’s poster session, Characteristics of cannibalistic morph barred tiger salamanders in a prairie pothole lake will take place on Wednesday, August 7, 20113 in Exhibit Hall B of the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Presenter contact:         

Kyle McLean, North Dakota State University; kyle.mclean@my.ndsu.edu

 Slime, spores…fungi!

Helvella by Roo Vandegrift

Illustration of the slate grey saddle (Helvella lacunosa) by Roo Vandegrift.

As different from plants as plants are from animals, Fungi feature varieties that decompose dead organisms, engage in mutually beneficial relationships with other species, cause disease to plants and animals, and act as predators and parasites.  Mycologists—those who study fungi and their relationships with other organisms—note that only a fraction of Fungal species are known and that modern mycology’s potential applications to engineering and other possible contributions remain largely untapped. 

Part of the organized poster session Current Perspectives on the History of Ecology, Getting freaky with fungi: A historical perspective on the emergence of mycology, will take place on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, from 4:30 – 6:30 PM in Exhibit Hall B of the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

Presenter contacts: 

Sydney Glassman, University of California, Berkeley, sglassman@berkeley.edu

Roo Vandegift, University of Oregon, awv@uoregon.edu

 Media Attendance

The Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting, Aug. 4-9, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is free for reporters with a recognized press card and institutional press officers. Registration is also waived for current members of the National Association of Science Writers, the Canadian Science Writers Association, the International Science Writers Association and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Interested press should contact Liza Lester at llester@esa.org or 202-833-8773 x 211 to register.  In a break from previous policy, meeting presentations are not embargoed.

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and the trusted source of ecological knowledge.  ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth.  The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org or find experts in ecological science at http://www.esa.org/pao/rrt/.

 To subscribe to ESA press releases, contact Liza Lester at llester@esa.org

 

Ecology in Agricultural Landscapes: seeking solutions for food, water, wildlife

A compendium of agro-ecology sessions at the 2013 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America

2013 ESA Logo

Media advisory

For Immediate Release:  Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Contact: Liza Lester (202) 833-8773 x 211; llester@esa.org

 

Agriculture alters the landscape more than any other human activity, with trickle-down effects on water, soil, climate, plant and wildlife diversity, wildfire, and human health. Crop and rangeland occupies nearly 40 percent of earth’s ice-free land, and mountains and deserts make much of the remaining surface unwelcoming to agriculture. Our increasing population applies constant pressure for further conversion of wild lands to agricultural production. With yields plateauing in many parts of the world, managers, both private and public, are looking for new ideas to get the most out of agricultural lands, sustain production into the future, and protect natural resources.

Multiple sessions will address the ecological study of agricultural systems at the Ecological Society of America’s 98th Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 4 – 9.

Presenting scientists will examine routes to improved soil, water, and nutrient retention, pollinator support, and pest suppression by natural enemies. They will discuss opportunities to increase biodiversity in agricultural areas and mitigate runoff.

 

Land sharing

Soil erosion….or not. STRIPs project - LIsa Schulte Moore presents at the Aster Cafe on Wednesday August 7 at 5:30pm

Soil erosion….or not. Even small amounts of perennials can have a dramatic impact on the environmental benefits provided by row-cropped agricultural lands. This image depicts the ability of native prairie to keep soil in farm fields, where it can produce crops, as opposed to allowing it to move into streams, where it becomes a serious pollutant.
Lisa Schulte Moore won the inaugural ESA2013 Science Cafe Prize with her vision for change in modern agriculture based on ecological knowledge and experimentation. Schulte Moore, a professor of landscape ecology at Iowa State University, will speak at a public event at the Aster Cafe on the riverfront in Minneapolis, at 5:30pm on Wednesday August 7. Photo, Dave Williams.

OOS 23: Bridging The Public-Private Land Divide – Supporting Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services By Tapping The Ingenuity In Social-Ecological Systems.
Thursday, August 8, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, room 101A

For much of the world, high-intensity industrial farming produces food with high efficiency, but puts the squeeze on other plant and animal life. Wildlife is mostly sequestered on preserves. But is this the best way to maximize food and biodiversity? Or are there other configurations that might improve mobility of wildlife and benefit other ecosystem services without cost (and possibly with benefit) to private land owners?

“We are probably not going to be able to achieve landscape conservation goals for soil, water, and wildlife, specifically grasslands and birds, working on publically-owned lands alone. We will need to incorporate private lands,” said session moderator Chris Woodson, a private lands biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Missouri.

Conservation biologists are looking for conservation-supportive practices that have potential to augment protected areas on public lands and aid existing programs. Private landowners and entrepreneurs are looking for contributions that they can make to conservation and still make a living.

This session brings together managers, scientists, private land owners, and entrepreneurs to discuss ideas, pilot projects, and existing public-private partnerships, and seek areas of mission overlap and opportunities for collective action.

“Lower case c conservation is what we want to see happen,” said session co-organizer Paul Charland, a wildland firefighter with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Capital C Conservation is official business; it’s the movement as an organizational process. Lower case conservation is all efforts to keep native species. We want to provide a mechanism for everyone to do that.”

 

Organizers:         Patrica Heglund (Patricia_Heglund@fws.gov); Paul Charland (paul_charland@fws.gov); Carol Williams; Chris Woodson   (chris_woodson@fws.gov)

 


 

Connecting the global to the local – agricultural landscapes from field to orbit

SYMP 20: Integrating Agro-Ecological Research Across Spatial and Temporal Scales
Thursday, August 8, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM

Kate Brauman integrating eco-agro research scales ESA2013

Collage assembled by Kate Brauman. Image Credits – Globe: Reto Stöckli, Robert Simmon, MODIS teams, NASA. Satellite images: shrimp aquaculture in Honduras, Landsat 7, 1999, Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory. Small photos: Kate Brauman.

Big changes in agriculture are visible on the global scale – changes in crop yields, dietary choices, water use, fertilizer application, soil retention, and nutrient pollution. In some parts of the world, yield lags, revealing opportunities to get more out of land already in production. In others, crop production has sagged or plateaued. Will yields keep increasing as they have in the past? It’s hard to see trajectories without local context, said session organizer Kate Brauman of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Site-specific field work fills in details.

“Agronomy has been working very successfully for a long time, and it’s been focused on practitioners,” said Brauman. “And global analysis can be hard for someone in the field to interpret. How can we take insights from the local to the global scale and make them useful?”

Ecology has great scientists studying the very local, applied art and science of getting more yield out of our crops and the local ecological effects of agriculture, and great scientists studying global trends, said Bauman. It does not have much of a history of cross-pollination between the groups. This session aims to bridge gulfs of scientific culture and of scale, connecting the satellite’s eye view of global change to the view from the field; computational modeling to on-the-ground experimentation; and snapshot observations to daily, seasonal, annual, and decadal change.

 

Organizer: Kate Brauman (kbrauman@umn.edu)

 


 

Resilient future

Two “Ignite” sessions offer a series of 5-minute introductions to ideas for the future interdependency of conservation and agriculture, from plant breeding and field design, to farm policy.

 


 

More…

  • PS-29: Agriculture            Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM, Exhibit Hall B
    (Poster session)
  • COS 1: Agriculture I         Monday, August 5, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM, room L100I
    Grasslands, coffee, excess nitrogen fertilizer
  • COS 18: Agriculture II      Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, room 101C
    Biodiversity, weeds, spatial organization
  • COS 80: Soil Ecology        Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM, room M100GD
    Includes soybean symbiosis, prairie grazing gradients, and bioenergy constraints.
  • COS 77: Land-Use And Land-Use History               Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM, room L100H
    Consequences of armed conflict, restoration ecology, and shifting away from beef(?).
  • OOS 24: Managing Belowground Processes In Agroecosystems  Thursday, August 8, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, room 101B
    The invisible world of roots, fungi, insects, arthropods, microbes, and decomposing plants matter matter very much to crop success and environmental health. This session will evaluate the state of the science and “alternative” agro-ecological systems, and discuss management opportunities.
  • COS 126: Pollination        Friday, August 9, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, room L100G
    Cranberries, blueberries, and parasitoid wasps.

 


 

Press Registration for the Annual Meeting, August 4 – 9, 2013:

We waive registration fees for reporters with a recognized press card and for current members of the National Association of Science Writers, the Canadian Science Writers Association, the International Science Writers Association and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Email Liza Lester, llester@esa.org.

Meeting abstracts are not embargoed.


 

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge. ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

 

To subscribe to ESA press releases, contact Liza Lester at llester@esa.org.

Minnesota Energy & Environment Senior Advisor Ellen Anderson to receive ESA Regional Policy Award

For immediate release: 16 July 20132013 ESA Logo

Media contacts:

ESA: Nadine Lymn (202) 833-8773 x205; nadine@esa.org

MN Dept. of Ag.: Margaret Hart (651) 201-6131; Margaret.hart@state.mn.us

On Sunday, August 4, 2013, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present its sixth annual Regional Policy Award to Ellen Anderson, Energy and Environment Senior Advisor to Minnesota’s Governor Dayton, during the Society’s conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The ESA award recognizes an elected or appointed local policymaker who has an outstanding record of informing policy decisions with ecological science.

“Ellen Anderson exemplifies leadership in promoting sustainability” said ESA President Scott Collins.  “As a Minnesota state senator she championed bills to foster renewable energy, clean water and parks and in her current capacity she’s working to advance Minnesota’s environmental quality initiatives. She sets a high standard for policy makers everywhere.”

Ellen Anderson photo

Ellen Anderson

Anderson served in the Minnesota Senate for eighteen years, where she was the chief author of the 25 percent by 2025 legislation, which requires Minnesota energy companies to generate at least 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2025.  She also co-authored numerous bills related to energy, natural areas, and many other environmental issues. Since February 2012, Anderson has served as senior advisor on energy and environment to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.  Anderson works on clean energy, environmental policy issues, and public outreach for numerous state agencies and the Governor.   

“Sustainability is the headliner of our time,” said Anderson.  “I feel incredibly honored to receive this award from the Ecological Society of America whose members have spearheaded and helped shape our thinking about how we manage our ecosystems—from agricultural to urban—to sustain them for future generations.”  

ESA, which holds its Annual Meeting in a different city each year, established its Regional Policy Award in 2008 to recognize an elected or appointed local policymaker who has integrated environmental science into policy initiatives that foster more sustainable communities. Past recipients of the ESA award are Ken Bierly, with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Karen Hixon, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.

ESA President Collins will present Anderson with the 2013 ESA Regional Policy Award at the start of the Opening Plenary on Sunday, August 4 at 5 PM in the auditorium of the Minneapolis Convention Center. ESA’s conference is expected to draw 3,000 scientists, educators, and policymakers from across the nation and around the world.    

Media Attendance

The Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting, Aug. 4 – 9, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is free for reporters with a recognized press card and institutional press officers. Registration is also waived for current members of the National Association of Science Writers, the Canadian Science Writers Association, the International Science Writers Association and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Interested press should contact Liza Lester at llester@esa.org or 202-833-8773 x211 to register.  In a break from previous policy, meeting presentations are not embargoed.

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and the trusted source of ecological knowledge.  ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth.  The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org or find experts in ecological science at http://www.esa.org/pao/rrt/.

Dynamic interplay of ecology, infectious disease, and human life

Spillover of infectious wildlife diseases to domestic animals and people and the link between environmental processes and human health

ESA2013 Minneapolis badge

For immediate release:  Thursday, 27 June 2013                        

Contact: Nadine Lymn (202) 833-8773 x 205; nadine@esa.org

or Liza Lester (202) 833-8773 x 211; llester@esa.org

 

 

 

Two symposia focusing on the ecological dynamics of infectious diseases such as avian influenza, Yellow Fever, and Lyme will take place during the Ecological Society of America’s 98th Annual Meeting, held this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One will look at human influences on viral and bacterial diseases through our alteration of landscapes and ecological processes, while the other will focus on the emerging field of eco-epidemiology that seeks to integrate biomedical and ecological research approaches to address human health threats.

The symposium on Monday, August 5, will take a deeper look at a range of human activities that affect infectious disease. Though we often think of diseases as simply being “out there” in the environment, our own actions—like feeding outdoor birds—can influence the abundance, diversity and distribution of wildlife species and thus, infectious diseases in wildlife, many of which have the potential to also infect us.

“New human settlements, the spread of agriculture, and the increasing proximity of people, their pets, and livestock to wild animals, increase the probability of disease outbreaks,” said session organizer Courtney Coon, with the University of Florida. “We’re particularly interested in learning more about how urban and other environments that we dramatically change affect the susceptibility and transmission potential of animals that are hosts or vectors of disease.”

What are the key determinants of spillover of wildlife diseases to domestic animals and humans?  Why is the prevalence of pathogens in wildlife living in urban areas often altered from counterparts in less developed environments?  Speakers will address these and more questions in the symposium, that will also include a session highlighting ways in which citizen scientists can contribute important information that helps track avian diseases.   

The symposium on Tuesday, August 6, will continue the theme of infectious disease but with an eye toward integrating biomedical and ecological approaches to aid investigation and control of emerging zoonotic diseases. 

“Environmental processes and human health are linked and we’d like to chart a future in which ecologists and epidemiologists more routinely work in tandem to address health problems,” said symposium organizer Jory Brinkerhoff. 

Those studying human diseases may overlook possible ecological factors. For example, most Lyme disease cases in the eastern United States occur in the North even though the black-legged tick, which transmits the bacterium, may be found throughout the eastern US. The answer is likely tied to ecological factors such as the variety of host species that occur across the Eastern range. Meanwhile, disease ecologists may neglect to integrate human ecology in their studies. For instance, human life histories and social dynamics are critically important in the success or failure of managing the mosquito-borne virus, dengue.

“Disease ecologists and epidemiologists address some of the same kinds of questions yet operate largely in isolation of one another,” said Brinkerhoff. “We’re bringing them together to share their approaches and study designs and strengthen our ability to address public health issues.”

SYMPOSIUM 2 – Disease Ecology in Human-Altered Landscapes. Monday, August 5, 2013: 1:30 PM – 5 PM, 205AB, Minneapolis Convention Center.

Organizer/Moderator: Courtney Coon, University of South Florida

Co-Organizer: James Adelman, Virginia Tech

Speakers:

· Parviez Hosseini, EcoHealth Alliance

· Matthew Ferrari, Penn State University

· A. Marm Kilpatrick, University of California, Santa Cruz

· Raina Plowright, Pennsylvania State University

· Sonia Altizer, University of Georgia

· Becki Lawson, Zoological Society of London

SYMPOSIUM 8 – Eco-Epidemiology: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Addressing Public Health Problems.  Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 1:30 PM – 5 PM, 205AB Minneapolis Convention Center.

Organizer/Moderator: Jory Brinkerhoff, University of Richmond

Co-Organizer: Maria Diuk-Wasser, Yale School of Public Health

Speakers:

· Maria Diuk-Wasser, Yale School of Public Health

· Daniel Salkeld, Colorado State University

· Mark Wilson, University of Michigan

· James Holland Jones, Stanford University

· Harish Padmanabha, National Center for Socio-Environmental Synthesis

· Jean Tsao, Michigan State University

Media Attendance

The Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting, Aug. 4-9, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is free for reporters with a recognized press card and institutional press officers. Registration is also waived for current members of the National Association of Science Writers, the Canadian Science Writers Association, the International Science Writers Association and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Interested press should contact Liza Lester at llester@esa.org or 202-833-8773 x211 to register.  In a break from previous policy, meeting presentations are not embargoed.

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and the trusted source of ecological knowledge.  ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth.  The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org or find experts in ecological science at http://www.esa.org/pao/rrt/.

To subscribe to ESA press releases, contact Liza Lester at llester@esa.org