New study says Earth entering a new extinction phase

From BBC News

The Earth has entered a new period of extinction, a study by three US universities has concluded, and humans could be among the first casualties. The report, led by the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley, said vertebrates were disappearing at a rate 114 times faster than normal. The findings echo those in a report published by Duke University last year.

One of the new study‘s authors said: “We are now entering the sixth great mass extinction ...

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In a sweeping encyclical, the Pope calls for swift action on climate change

From the New York Times

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.

The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which ...

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Texas: a history of flooding is compounded by development and warming impacts

From the New York Times

The holiday and the type of hazard have changed, but once again fast-growing Texas is seeing outsize (and tragic) impacts from extreme weather events. On Labor Day weekend in 2011, the disaster was heat- and drought-fueled fires that whipped through the exurbs east of Austin, most of which didn’t exist just a few decades earlier. Now, Houston is flooded and Hays County, west of Austin, is still in search and rescue mode after Memorial Day weekend flash flooding ...

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Dr. Cayelan Carey partners with the United Nations to confront global water crisis

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 19, 2015 – A Virginia Tech ecologist provided potential solutions to the world’s water problems in an article published recently in the United Nations’ Chronicle.

The report will assist the United Nations in finalizing its post-2015 sustainable development goals, which include ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The goals were proposed by world leaders at the Rio+20 conference held in Brazil in 2012 and were meant to set realistic, ...

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Engineers and scientists to examine antibiotic resistance in food chain

Virginia Tech College of Engineering

Growing evidence suggests that agricultural practices, especially widespread antibiotic use, could be contributing to the increasing antibiotic resistance problem in humans. In order to learn how to effectively control this spread of antibiotic resistance from livestock manure, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a $2.25 million grant to a Virginia Tech team of engineers and scientists to examine the food chain from farm to fork.

One of the team’s immediate concerns is to determine ...

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Amy Pruden receives best paper award from Environmental Science and Technology

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 11, 2015 – Amy Pruden, associate dean for interdisciplinary graduate education in the Graduate School and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, received a best paper award for 2014 from the journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T).

Her paper, “Balancing Water Sustainability and Public Health Goals in the Face of Growing Concerns about Antibiotic Resistance” was named the top paper in the feature section.

Pruden’s paper discussed ...

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IGC Fellows Estrada and Medina work on issues that address declining species worldwide

Video: In the rainforests of Central America, a research team studies a skin disease that may be the tipping point for amphibian life on the planet.

From VT News

As the clock ticks, populations of endangered species decline and threaten the functioning of healthy ecosystems.

Pollution, hunting, habitat degradation, climate change, and invasive species have dealt blows to global biodiversity. Climate change alone is putting one in six species on Earth at risk of extinction, according to a meta-analysis of 131 published studies ...

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Ben Vernasco studies the social dynamics and physiology of dancing birds

From Fralin Spotlight

by Cassandra Hockman

Ben Vernasco knew he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in conservation biology while studying tropical birds in Peru. After his trip, he got in touch with his mentor, Brandt Ryder, a research ecologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

Ryder and his Virginia Tech colleague Ignacio Moore, an associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, had just received a National Science Foundation ...

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State of the Amazon: WWF report by Dr. Leandro Castello

​From WWF Global

Amazon reportIn 2014, the World Wildlife Fund Living Amazon Initiative launched the series, “State of the Amazon”, presenting the first report, “State of the Amazon: Ecological Representation, Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories”.

In April 2015, the second report was released: “State of the Amazon: Freshwater Connectivity and Ecosystem Health”. Prominent researchers Marcia Macedo and Leandro Castello wrote the core scientific assessment ...

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Ignacio Moore studies rare “Pinocchio Lizard” in Ecuador

This story by Lindsay Key was originally published at EurekAlert! and VT News

For more than 50 years, scientists thought that the horned anole lizard — sometimes called the “Pinocchio Lizard” for its long, protruding nose — was extinct. But it turns out this is a tall tale.

Scientists re-discovered the lizard in 2005, living elusively at the tops of tall trees in the cloud forests of Ecuador — the only place in the world ...

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Cathy Jachowski’s hellbender research is featured on VT Vimeo

Cathy Jachowski is a Ph.D. candidate in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change interdisciplinary graduate education program at Virginia Tech.

“Growing up in Kentucky, I learned the value of maintaining clean and healthy rivers, lakes and streams for both people and wildlife. As humans, we have all contributed to changes in land use patterns, climate and various types of pollution. These changes can affect the quality of ...

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President Obama links public health and climate change

(CNN) Debates on climate change can break down fairly fast. There are those who believe that mankind’s activities are changing the planet’s climate, and those who don’t.

But a new way to talk about climate change is emerging, which shifts focus from impersonal discussions about greenhouse gas emissions and power plants to a very personal one: your health.

It’s easy to brush aside debates involving major international corporations, but who wouldn’t stop to think — and perhaps do something — about their ...

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Postcards: Laura Schoenle arrives in Ontario for field season

April 8, 2015

“Hi! I just arrived at the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) in Elgin, Ontario, and while we’re still in the midst of winter up here, the migratory birds are already returning. My personal favorite is the red-winged blackbird, and they are singing right now, even as the snow falls…

My research focuses on the role of hormones in shaping how birds cope with disease.  I have two exciting experiments planned for this summer, and each will become chapters in my Ph.D. dissertation. In ...

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Susan Susan Hassol’s recent Ted Talk is about the need for better science communication skills

We’re stymied in solving the climate change problem because of an underlying challenge – a communication failure – rooted in language and ideology. Aspects of this failure include how scientists communicate, how some people confound the science with the solutions, and an active disinformation campaign designed to cast doubt. Resolution of the communication failure is essential, as it can unleash our ability to solve the climate problem.

Susan Joy Hassol is a climate change communicator, analyst, and ...

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Booming population, looming drought and the worsening effects of climate change

By Richard Parker

From the New York Times Opinion Page

WIMBERLEY, Tex. — “WE don’t want you here,” warned the county commissioner, pointing an accusatory finger at the drilling company executives as 600 local residents rose to their feet. “We want you to leave Hays County.”

Normally, my small town is a placid place nestled in the Texas Hill Country, far from controversy, a peaceful hour’s ...

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Special IGC/EEB Seminar featuring Dr. Robert Lackey: science in public policy

“Science in Public Policy: Maintaining Relevance, Ensuring Accuracy, and Avoiding Advocacy”

The Interfaces of Global Change IGEP at Virginia Tech is pleased to welcome Dr. Robert Lackey for a special EEB Seminar on Thursday, March 5th, 2015.

SAVE THE DATE!
Thursday, March 5, 2015 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. | Fralin Auditorium | Virginia Tech


Abstract

Has science become irrelevant in informing policy debates?

Scientists in environmental science, natural resources, ecology, conservation biology, and similar disciplines are often not trusted by the public and decision-makers to present policy-neutral ...

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Four Global Change Center faculty receive New Investigator Award

Four Virginia Tech life science researchers have received Fralin’s New Investigator Award, which recognizes promising first-time tenure-track faculty who have joined Virginia Tech within the last two years. This year the recipients each received $10,000 to advance their research efforts as they see fit.

“We are delighted to provide some unrestricted funds to help several of our new investigators within the life sciences,” said Dr. Dennis Dean, the director of the Fralin Life Science Institute.

“These funds come from the Fralin endowment ...

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SDAL Seminar: Global Change Initiatives at Virginia Tech

Emerging Collaborative Opportunities for Interdisciplinary Research and Training

Tue, Feb 24, 10:00am – 11:00am

William A. Hopkins, Ph.D. Director, The Global Change Center at Virginia Tech Director, Interfaces of Global Change Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

Dr. Hopkins will will visit the Social & Decision Analytics Laboratory to discuss the goals of the new Global Change Center at Virginia Tech and its associated Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program. These new programs are funded by the Fralin Life Science Institute and the Virginia Tech Graduate School, ...

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