Jon Doubek receives the Leo Bourassa Award

Jon Doubek has received the Leo Bourassa Award from the Virginia Lakes and Watershed Association for his research on the effects of anoxia on water quality in Virginia reservoirs. This award was chosen based on his contributions to the field of water resources in the commonwealth of Virginia and goes to the top graduate student doing water research in VA!

Jon has been monitoring the water quality of several reservoirs in southwestern VA the past two summers. Jon ...

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Postcards from the field: Angie Estrada in Panama

August 1, 2015
Postcard from Angie Estrada

“Hi All!

For the past six weeks, I have been working on collecting data for my first season and it has been super exciting! Fieldwork is much more intense and exhausting than you can imagine, but at the same time it is really fun and I have learned so much. I got to see amazing frogs, snakes, monkeys, birds, sloths and even humpback whales during my visit! I also realized that I am the luckiest person to be able ...

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City birds are more aggressive than country birds

A new study published in Behavioral Ecology suggests that increased aggression in urban song sparrows is related to resource availability. The study, by Virginia Tech researchers Sarah Foltz and Ignacio Moore, was featured this week in Science

“City folk have a reputation for being less friendly than their rural counterparts, and the same appears to be true for garden birds. Urban song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) are more aggressive toward their neighbors than are sparrows out in the country. But ...

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Science communication through music

Originally published at Ensia

When faced with the challenge of sharing the latest climate change discoveries, scientists often rely on data graphics and technical illustrations. University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford came up with a completely different approach. He’s using his cello to communicate the latest climate science through music.

Thermometer measurements show the average global temperature has risen about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) since 1880. Typically, this warming is illustrated visually with line plots or ...

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New in Science: Polar bears fail to adapt to lack of food

From BBC NEWS

Polar bears are unable to adapt their behaviour to cope with the food losses associated with warmer summers in the Arctic. Scientists had believed that the animals would enter a type of ‘walking hibernation’ when deprived of prey. But new research says that that bears simply starve in hotter conditions when food is scarce.

The authors say that the implications for the survival of the species in a warmer world are grim.

Back in 2008 polar bears were  Read More →

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VT Scientists work to preserve biodiversity in the Amazon Rainforest

From VT News:

July 8, 2015

The Amazon Basin’s vast tropical rainforests, rivers, and soils are rich ecosystems vital to the basic functioning of the planet. They churn moisture into the atmosphere, sequester global carbon, regulate climate patterns, and house much of the world’s biodiversity.

But those extensive, interconnected ecosystems are increasingly fragmented and degraded by unsustainable agriculture and ranching, illegal logging, unmitigated mining, and exploitative commercial fishing practices.

Scientists from Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment — economists, fisheries ...

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Postcards from the field: Maya Wilson studies swallows in the Bahamas

July 12, 2015
Postcard from Maya Wilson

“I am just finishing up my four-month field season in The Bahamas! Overall, it has been a success!

I am here studying the Bahama Swallow, a poorly known and endangered bird species that only breeds on three islands in the northern Bahamas. I was here last summer for two months, but this is my first full season as a PhD student. I have spent most of the time on Abaco Island with my field ...

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Tony Timpano’s proposal funded by OSM: stream ecosystem responses to surface mining

A project proposal submitted by IGC graduate student, Tony Timpano, to the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining has been successful! This funding will support one full-time research associate for 12 months and one graduate student for two semesters to continue research on salt pollution (salinization) and selenium in headwater streams affected by coal mining in VA and WVA. Congratulations, Tony!

TITLE:
Stream Ecosystem Response to Mining-Induced Salinization in Appalachia

 

PROJECT GOALS

  • Assess long-term temporal patterns of chemical and biological changes in salinized Appalachian headwater ...
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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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Naomi Oreskes, Climate Change Lightening Rod

From the New York Times (June 15, 2015)

The job interviewer scrutinized the young American geology student sitting across from him. She was about to graduate from the Royal School of Mines in London, and was trying to break into a field long unwelcoming to women.

What, he wanted to know, might she have to contribute to the geology of mining? Naomi Oreskes had a simple answer: “I want to find ...

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Hopkins Lab hatches bluebird outreach project with Blacksburg High School

From VT News

Blacksburg, June 5, 2015

This spring, Blacksburg High School students peeked into wooden nest boxes and found one of three things: an empty nest, powder blue eggs, or best of all, a feathery baby bird.

As part of a partnership with Virginia Tech, approximately 50 wooden bird boxes were placed on a natural stretch of the high school’s property so that students can learn about bird biology, the scientific method, and environmental problems like climate change.

“The project has ...

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Dr. Kendra Sewall awarded grant from the Jeffress Memorial Trust

Kendra Sewall, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Global Change Center Faculty Affiliate, received a grant from the Jeffress Memorial Trust, which provides $100,000 awards to conduct innovative interdisciplinary pilot studies in fields such as biosciences, chemistry, engineering, and environmental sciences.  She joins a select group of VT researchers to win this award in recent years, which has been limited to four submissions per institution per year.

The project is entitled, “”Using Social Network Models and Manipulations of Glucocorticoids to Understand How The ...

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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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