Meagan O’Rourke’s SURF student works on bee-friendly flower garden project

From VT News

Local farmers and gardeners who want to attract native pollinators to their plants may be interested in the summer research project of Laura Stange, a rising senior majoring in horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Funded by the Fralin Life Science Institute’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Stange observes and analyzes the behavior patterns of pollinators around plots of native wildflowers at Kentland Farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her goal is to determine which pollinator species prefer which ...

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Reintroduction of Critically Endangered Frogs in Panama: first release marks important milestone

Smithsonian Scientists Release Frogs Wearing Mini Radio Transmitters Into Panamanian Wilderness

Lisa Belden, Angie Estrada, and Daniel Medina are Global Change Center affiliates in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. Their amphibian research was recently featured in the following video and online article at The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology InstituteThe article originally appeared as a blog post on the website of the Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Project.

“Ninety Limosa harlequin frogs (Atelopus limosus) bred in human care are braving the elements of ...

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David Millican, IGC Fellow, studies impact of climate change & deforestation in Namibia

From VT News

A Virginia Tech graduate student is living in one of the hottest and driest countries in the world this semester so that he can study how climate change, land management, and other human-caused phenomena impact a community of animals known as the cavity guild.

Composed of birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and invertebrates, the cavity guild, biologically speaking, is a group of animals that depend on holes and crevices in trees for their ...

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Indirect effects of invasive Burmese pythons on the Florida Everglades

John D. Willson recently published a paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology titled, “Indirect effects of invasive Burmese pythons on ecosystems in southern Florida”.

Willson’s research paper was highlighted in the online magazine, Anthropocene, published by Future Earth:

Invading pythons and the weird, uncertain future of the Florida Everglades

By Brandon Keim | February 8, 2017

The Florida Everglades are one of Earth’s biological marvels, a vast slow-moving river in whose marshes live—even at this late date, with water diverted, pollution injected and human ...

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Strickland: Scientists zero in on biological diversity in ‘poor man’s rainforest’

From VT News

The soil beneath our feet is not as biologically diverse as scientists previously thought, according to a research team that includes a Virginia Tech soil microbial ecologist.

Leftover DNA from dead organisms — known as “relic DNA” — has historically thrown a wrench into estimates, causing scientists to overestimate microbial diversity by as much as 55 percent. Understanding microbial diversity in soil is crucial for understanding how environmental processes like atmospheric nitrogen fixation and climate change occur.

But a ...

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The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

From CNN

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think. In all of Earth’s history, there have been five mass extinction events. You can see them charted here. Now, we’re on the verge of the sixth extinction. And three-quarters of all species could vanish. Imagine three out of four species that were common are gone. This is the first time humans have caused anything like this.

Experience this interactive report at CNN

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General Mills, USDA & Xerces Society: $4 million effort aims to stop the death of honeybees

From The Guardian

On the 33-acre Prairie Drifter Farm in central Minnesota, farmers Joan and Nick Olson are cultivating more than just organic vegetables. Alongside their seven acres of crops – including tomatoes, cucumbers and onions – they’ve also planted flowering plants, dogwood and elderberry hedgerows to accommodate species of bees and butterflies essential for the health of the crops.

The Olsons are not beekeepers, but they are part of a movement to reconnect sustainable farming to a healthy environment. As ...

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Postcards from the field: Brandon Semel in Madagascar

POSTCARD from:
Brandon Semel, Ph.D. student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation

“I’m currently writing this at 2:30 am, Madagascar time, as I wait for the local taxi brousse (or bush taxi) to take me from the small town of Daraina to the coastal cities of Vohemar and Sambava where I can finalize my research permits. Let’s just say that things here don’t always go according to a western schedule, as my ride is already half an hour late ...

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Red-cockaded woodpecker uses fungus to create tree cavities

From VT News

Home decor has never been so useful.

An endangered woodpecker carries wood-eating fungi into its tree cavity home that ultimately help to expand the home’s size, according to a multi-institutional team led by a Virginia Tech researcher.

The finding, which comes after more than two years of experimental research in a protected area on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Researchers determined that the red-cockaded woodpecker ...

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Tony Timpano’s paper in Science: Mountaintop mining & crop irrigation can increase salinity in freshwater, impacting diversity

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 2, 2016 – Aquatic life can suffer when high concentrations of dissolved salts enter freshwater ecosystems, a process known as salinization.

An international, multi-institutional team of researchers that includes a Virginia Tech graduate student recommends ways that humans can protect freshwater from salts in a recent article in the journal Science.

The recommendations include the use of less water for agricultural practices, less salt for road de-icing, less discharge or sequestering salts during ...

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Brandon Semel will use drones to help save lemurs in Madagascar

Brandon Semel is a PhD student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP.  This story was first published as a Student Spotlight at Fralin Life Science Institute.

Flying high for conservation: an Interfaces of Global Change fellow will use drones to help save lemurs

Brandon Semel’s doctoral research can be traced back to a picture book.

Within the book are images of bushy tailed lemurs, hand drawn ...

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UN Biodiversity Panel: Decline of bees poses risks to major crops

From Apple News

Populations of bees, butterflies and other species important for agricultural pollination are declining, posing potential risks to major world crops, a UN body on biodiversity said Friday.

“Many wild bees and butterflies have been declining in abundance, occurrence and diversity at local and regional scales in Northwest Europe and North America,” said an assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

It said declines had also been detected elsewhere ...

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