Making room for prairie STRIPs in Iowa’s cornbelt
Nov19

Making room for prairie STRIPs in Iowa’s cornbelt

A Field Talk interview with Lisa Schulte Moore (Land Sharing/Sparing #1) digs into how integrating STRIPs of prairie into conventional row crops helps farms, waterways, and wildlife.

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Changing climate, changing landscape: monitoring the vast wilderness of interior Alaska
Mar28

Changing climate, changing landscape: monitoring the vast wilderness of interior Alaska

First ten-years of data from an ongoing monitoring effort sets a baseline for modeling and forestry management in Denali National Park and Preserve — listen to the Field Talk podcast with park service ecologist Carl Roland.

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Where the ecologists are: a Field Talk podcast with Erle Ellis
Nov26

Where the ecologists are: a Field Talk podcast with Erle Ellis

The UM-Baltimore County ecologist talks about geographical context in field research and why he thinks the value of nature is more than the sum of it’s services. by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Listen to the podcast on the Field Talk page, or download it from iTunes. Ellis collaborated with Laura Martin and Bernd Blossey of Cornell University on the Frontiers article featured in this podcast . Stay tuned to Ecotone for a longer post with insights from lead author Martin, coming up later this week. Anthropogenic biomes (anthromes): a classification of land ecosystems based on prolonged and abiding communion with people, developed by Erle Ellis and Navin Ramankutty in their 2008 paper Putting people in the map: anthropogenic biomes of the world. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment  6:8, 439-447. Map from Figure 1 of the paper. Scale = 1:160 000 000, Plate Carrée projection (geographic), 5 arc minute resolution (5′ = 0.0833°).  [click image to enlarge] _________________ GEOGRAPHICAL bias in field research matters because we’re facing global change – “these are global phenomena, so we need global information,” said Erle Ellis, a professor of geography & environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, talking about the low resolution of ecological data from many parts of the world. A review of five years of ecological field studies, published earlier this year, showed a bias toward the protected, temperate, broad-leafed forests of wealthy countries, where most ecologists make their homes. Ellis talks about some of the surprising discoveries of the review, and the challenges of defining native species ranges in a time of global change. He shares concerns about framing conservation in terms of ecosystems services, and his own journey from plant physiology through agricultural field studies in rural China, to his current work in land use and global change. _________________ Mapping where ecologists work: biases in the global distribution of terrestrial ecological observations. Laura J Martin, Bernd Blossey, and Erle Ellis. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2012 10:4,...

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Tallgrass prairie: the invasion of the woody shrubs
Dec21

Tallgrass prairie: the invasion of the woody shrubs

As a Kansas boy, Jesse Nippert spent his youth wanting to escape the state, but found himself drawn inexorably back. Underlying the sea of grass is an interplay of water, fire, competition and consumption as enchanting as any ecosystem—and the balance of forces is shifting.

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Immersed in the clouds: Interview with tropical cloud forest researcher

There is a world within the canopy of a tropical cloud forest that not many people get to see. In this unique ecosystem—maintained by the exceptionally wet microclimate of cloud cover—orchids, moss, lichens and other epiphytes grow in every crease and pocket of the supporting tree branches. Here, hundreds of species of birds, along with monkeys and other mammals navigate the aerial landscape, scattering seeds along the way (see below video). (Resplendent Quetzal Canopy in the Clouds from Colin Witherill on Vimeo.) Greg Goldsmith, tropical plant ecologist from the University of California, Berkeley, spends his days harnessed in this “canopy in the clouds”—also the name of the interactive, educational website he is currently working on with photographer Drew Fulton and cinematographer Colin Witherill. The website, which explores the topical montane cloud forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica, will be launching a Spanish version called “Dosel en las Nubes” in the next couple of weeks. Goldsmith, who is the host in the Canopy in the Clouds videos, explains the microclimates, landscape, plants, pollinators, insects and the many other fascinating aspects of the forest. “I am still absolutely blown away by the sheer quantity of green that you see when you first walk into one of these forests,” said Goldsmith in a recent Ecological Society of America Field Talk podcast. “I am still amazed and still totally enthralled by the idea of seeing something I have never seen before, every single day. And that is a function of the incredible biodiversity that exists in this part of the world.” Thanks to the many hours of work from the crew, Canopy in the Clouds has numerous panoramic photographs embedded with short videos that describe a specific process or aspect of the forest. According to Drew Fulton’s photography website, “This group spent over 200 days in the field, bringing together [their] passions in pursuit of a new generation of science education media…” It was the first time Fulton and Witherill worked in the tropics. With the website completed, Goldsmith can guide visitors to experience a unique perspective within and above the canopy at the highest elevation—an area that is largely inaccessible without careful training. So, instead of telling a student that “the canopy is almost always immersed in this beautiful layer of clouds,” as Goldsmith said in the podcast, he is able to show them firsthand. Photo Credit: All photos copyright of Drew...

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Field Talk: Termites enrich the soil in East Africa

Vertebrate fertilizer is not the only source of nutrients in the soils of East African savannahs, at least according to a study recently published in the journal Ecology. Alison Brody from the University of Vermont and colleagues found that termites actually had more of an effect on the fruiting success of Acacia trees in Kenya than did dung and urine deposition from ungulate herbivores, such as zebras and gazelles.

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