Toxic algae blooms are spreading

From National Geographic

When sea lions suffered seizures and birds and porpoises started dying on the California coast last year, scientists weren’t entirely surprised. Toxic algae is known to harm marine mammals.

But when researchers found enormous amounts of toxin in a pelican that had been slurping anchovies, they decided to sample fresh-caught fish. To their surprise, they found toxins at such dangerous levels in anchovy meat that the state urged people to immediately stop eating them.

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A resurgence of malaria from the gold mines of Venezuela

From the New York Times:

by Nicholas Casey

THE ALBINO MINE, Venezuela — The 12th time Reinaldo Balocha got malaria, he hardly rested at all. With the fever still rattling his body, he threw a pick ax over his shoulder and got back to work — smashing stones in an illegal gold mine.

As a computer technician from a big city, Mr. Balocha was ill-suited for the mines, his soft hands used to working ...

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Last month was the single warmest month ever

From Time Magazine

And 2016 will almost definitely be the hottest year yet

July 2016 was the warmest month ever recorded, the latest in a slew of new temperature records set in the past several years, according to two new reports.

Scientists have recorded month after month of record-breaking temperatures this year, but July shattered all those records to become the hottest of any month in any year since record keeping began. The data was confirmed separately by NASA and ...

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Two sections of Communicating Science offered this fall on campus

For the first time, two fall sections of GRAD 5144, Communicating Science, are being offered, and currently there is space in both sections (CRN 84376 and CRN 88914). To accommodate the cycle of work in grad students’ lives at the beginning and end of the semester, the course is compressed into ten sessions, beginning the week of September 12 and wrapping up the week of November 14.

This 2-credit participatory course uses theatre improv games and writing exercises to help students ...

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As plantet warms, disasters like Louisiana Floods will continue

From The Guardian:

The historic and devastating floods in Louisiana are the latest in a series of heavy deluges that some climate scientists warn will become even more common as the world continues to warm.

On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) is set to classify the Louisiana disaster as the eighth flood considered to be a once in every 500-year event to have taken place in the US in little over 12 ...

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Graduate course of interest to IGC: Modeling Infections Diseases

Dr. Kaja Abbas, an Assistant Professor in Population Health Sciences, is offering this graduate course in fall semester 2016:

Modeling Infectious Diseases

PHS 5354 /3 credits/ Fall 2016

Course description 

Mathematical modeling of infectious diseases in humans and animals. Topics include deterministic susceptibles-infectious-recovered (SIR) and related models, estimation of reproductive number, host heterogeneities, multi-pathogen/multi-host models, spatio-temporal models, stochastic dynamics, and modeling for public health policy.

Learning objectives 

• Gain knowledge and understanding of concepts and methods in

mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

• Critically select the appropriate modeling methods ...

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Warmer winters, early springs…melting ice leads to more food insecurity

From NPR

Story by Clare Leschin-Hoar

There was a time when Sandra Gologergen’s freezer never ran out. Packed with traditional Inuit foods like whale, walrus, seal and fish, her freezer has been an essential lifeline, ensuring her husband, three kids and grandson make it through the long harsh winters of Savoonga, Alaska.

“Then that changed,” she says.

Warmer winters and changing ice conditions meant hunters were unable to bag the Pacific walrus the Savoonga residents traditionally relied on as a key food source. ...

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Ashley Dayer shows that citizen scientists’ data can be used for bird conservation

Dr. Ashley Dayer is a conservation social scientist and new faculty hire in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Dr. Dayer is also a new affiliated faculty member in the Global Change Center.  Her most recent publication in the journal Biological Conservation was highlighted in the following article on Cornell’s All About Birds website.


From All About Birds:

Save an endangered species, protect eagles from wind turbines, expand protected lands, or even outlaw drones from bothering wildlife. It doesn’t matter who you ...

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Tony Timpano’s work in water quality research is at the interface of science and policy

Story by Cassandra Hockman
Fralin Life Science Institute

Along the Mississippi River there is one species many people who live there know well. Mayflies. These long, dragonfly-looking creatures live on the bottom of the river and burrow in the muck and sand. They grow and develop there before they come to the surface to fly away and mate.

When they fly away, they do it en masse.

“They come out in huge swarms so big they show up on Doppler radar,” said Tony ...

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John Jelesko and David Haak are mapping the geolocation of Poison Ivy using the Appalachian Trail

From VT News

July 18, 2016

John Jelesko was hiking along the Appalachian Trail when he saw his quarry — one which other hikers would think of as their nemesis.

“Careful,” he said as he and David Haak stopped at a white blaze marker and pulled out his bag of scientific tricks. Though many people want to avoid poison ivy, the thick wall of poison ivy plants bordering the trail is just what the team of ...

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Global Change researchers Scott Davies and Kendra Sewall publish in Biology Letters

From VT News:

No need to head to the movie theater or download the video game app: Angry Birds can be found right in your backyard this summer — if you live in the suburbs, that is.

Virginia Tech researchers recently found in Southwest Virginia that birds that live in suburban areas exhibit significantly higher levels of territorial aggression than their country counterparts. The results were published in Biology Letters June ...

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Sterling Nesbitt: Fossils show ostrich relatives lived in North America 50 million years ago

From VT News:

Exceedingly well-preserved bird fossil specimens dating 50 million years represent a new species that is a previously unknown relative of the modern-day ostrich, according to a new paper co-authored by Sterling Nesbitt of Virginia Tech’s College of Science and part of the university’s Global Change Center.

The bird fossils were found more than a decade ago, completely intact with bones, feathers, and soft tissues, in a former lake bed in Wyoming. Nesbitt cannot hide a grin as ...

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IGC Fellow, Cordie Diggins, defends her dissertation

On June 30, 2016, Interfaces of Global Change Fellow, Cordie Diggins, successfully defended her dissertation in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.  Her seminar was titled, “Determining Habitat Associations of Virginia and Carolina Northern Flying Squirrels in the Appalachian Mountains from Bioacoustic and Telemetry Surveys”.

Dr. Diggins will start a post doctoral appointment in August with the USGS Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.  She will be studying the federally endangered spruce-fir moss spider, as well 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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Joel McGlothlin’s research on snake resistance to tetrodotoxin featured in the Atlantic Magazine

From VT News

A select group of garter snakes can thank their ancestors for the ability to chow down on a poisonous newt and live to tell the tale.

Common garter snakes, along with four other snake species, have evolved the ability to eat extremely toxic species such as the rough-skinned newt — amphibians that would kill a human predator — thanks to at least 100 million years of evolution, according to Joel McGlothlin, an assistant professor of biological sciences ...

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Peer J offers free open access publishing for scientists

From VT News

When Professor Ignacio Moore, of biological sciences, and his research team heard about PeerJ through social media, they connected with the open access publishing philosophy. Even better, their research about a low-cost, automated playback recording system for use in behavioral ecology was accepted for publication in the journal.

PeerJ is an award-winning, leading peer-reviewed open access scholarly journal for biological and medical sciences — a perfect fit for Moore’s research.

“This paper is essentially a methodological publication, and with ...

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Ed Fox and team receive grant for big data research

From VT News:

Every moment data is created.

When a member of the Flint Water Study team tests and records results from a drop of water. When a student steps into Goodwin Hall, activating sensors to track usability and traffic patterns.

But data, especially big data that has to be analyzed computationally, sometimes creates as many questions as it answers. Where does it all go? How do we store it? Who pays to store it? What kind of computer do we need ...

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Ignacio Moore and Bill Hopkins lead a study abroad trip to Ecuador

From VT News

Ten Virginia Tech undergraduate students better hold onto their hats this summer as they plunge down Amazonian river systems into the heart of Ecuador. At the helm of their canoes will be Global Change Center researchers Ignacio Moore and Bill Hopkins.

As part of a university-wide effort to promote study abroad, experiential learning, and undergraduate research, the students will witness the politics, history, culture, biology, and conservation issues in the South American country from May 16 to ...

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