Ecology Center News
Upcoming Research Landscapes to be Hosted Digitally on Aug. 11
On Tuesday, Aug. 11, Utah State University Research Landscapes will host "National parks, Forgotten Resources and Growing Wisely," its first digital-only event.
Herbivores, Not Predators, Most At Risk of Extinction
One million years ago, the extinction of large-bodied plant-eaters changed the trajectory of life on Earth. A new study by USU Assistant Professor, Trisha Atwood, suggests modern-day megaherbivores could suffer the same fate with unknown consequences for ...
Michelle Baker to Serve as Interim Science Dean During 2021 Search
Michelle Baker, associate dean in Utah State University’s College of Science and professor in the Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center, will serve as the college’s interim dean, beginning January 1, 2021.
Sticking Out: USU Genetic Ecologist Uses Genome-Mapping to Reveal 'Supermutation'
In a paper published July 23, 2020 in Science, USU Ecologist Zach Gompert and colleagues describe a supermutation in insects that can help explain large gaps in evolutionary trees.
Support Aggie Researchers Virtually at the 2020 ESA Annual Meeting
Support fellow Aggie researchers by registering for the 2020 ESA Meeting by Thursday, July 23 and participate in live or recorded presentations. Use the hashtag #ESAWatchParty2020 to advertise a talk or to post something on Facebook and Twitter.
Enlisting Private Land Owners in Conservation is Essential to Saving Endangered Species
Protected areas, like Yellowstone, are invaluable, but are they actually effective at preserving endangered species? And if not, how can future protected areas do better? A team of ecologists at USU published a study in Scientific Reports to answer these ...
True Colors: USU Biologists Explore Evolution of White Coloration of Velvet Ants
Creosote bushes produce tufts of fluffy, white fruits. Living nearby are similarly white and fluffy wasps known as thistle-down velvet ants. Looking at them side by side it's easy to imagine that the wasp's fuzz evolved as camouflage. But don't jump to co...
Beaver in Utah's Desert Rivers
Ecology Graduate Student, Emma Doden, is working to understand the dynamics of beavers translocated to desert rivers for restoration purposes and how they compare to the naturally-occurring resident beavers who are already established.
All Summer Long: Heat Waves and COVID-19
Extreme heat is a growing hazard to public health, causing greater mortality than other hazards like floods, tornadoes and hurricanes in the United States. Yet in 2020, the risks of extreme heat may be magnified even more by the impacts of the coronavirus...
In the Time of COVID Undergrad Researchers Mentors Use Technology Ingenuity and Grit
The Native American Summer Mentorship Program was created with the express purpose of bringing scholars together to experience hands-on research with USU faculty, one-on-one. With such emphasis on physically gathering, how could the program be successful ...
Where's Airborne Plastic? Everywhere, Scientists Find.
“There’s no nook or cranny on the surface of the earth that won’t have microplastics,” said USU Ecologist Janice Brahney in a New York Times article highlighting her important research on plastic pollution in the air.
Warming Climate is Changing Where Birds Breed
Spring is in full swing. Trees are leafing out, flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and birds are singing. But a recent study in PNAS found that those birds in your backyard may be changing right along with the climate.
Conservation insights from an enormous aspen clone: Q&A with USU ecologist Paul Rogers
Pando looks like any other apsen forest, but the approximately 47K stems that form its body share a single genome. For the past 10 years, USU ecologist Paul Rogers has studied Pando, and in 2018 he co-authored a study that found it might be dying.
The Utah Fire Atlas Offers Land Managers a New Tool
Wildfires were once an important driver of ecosystem health in western U.S forests, but decades of fire suppression, natural and human-caused disturbances and environmental change have combined to create conditions that favor wildfires.
Migrating Birds Bring Color to USU
“Western tanagers pass through Utah’s Cache Valley every spring but sometimes they linger in large numbers before heading to their mountain destinations,” says Utah State University ornithologist Kim Sullivan.
Ecology Grads Help with Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief
The Navajo Nation has been hit hard by the pandemic with more than 4,400 cases and nearly 150 deaths. Among the volunteers who have joined the relief effort are USU Biology and Ecology doctoral students Elizabeth Simpson, Megan Kepas, and Hannah Wilson.
Three Ecology Center Faculty Members Awarded $1.4 Million NSF Grant
Trisha Atwood, Bonnie Waring, and Karen Beard received a significant National Science Foundation grant to study the impact of migrating, plant-eating birds on the carbon cycle.
Bees are the Best: USU Biologist Publishes New Children's Book
USU biologist Joseph Wilson displays the new children's book, 'Bees are the Best,’ he recently published with illustrator Jonny VanOrman. Geared to preschoolers through fourth graders, the book introduces youngsters to bee diversity.
Two College of Natural Resources Professors Recognized by the Society for Range Management
Two longtime members of Utah State University’s Department of Environment and Society were honored recently by the Society for Range Management (SRM) for their career achievements in rangeland science and management.
USU Professor Discusses Threats to the Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake is facing multiple threats that put ecosystems, economies and species at risk, said Wayne Wurtsbaugh, Utah State University professor during a “Canyon Conversations” lecture Saturday morning.
Not Falling Far from Tree: USU Ecologist Studies Seed-to-Seed Transitions
Why are there so many species of plants? Why do some plants thrive, while others don’t? Utah State University ecologist Noelle Beckman and colleagues explore these questions and recently published findings about seed-to-seedling transitions in the journal...
Using Science to Persuade Hikers to be Bear-Safe in Yellowstone
Humans are a complex species. Convincing them to do something … like protect themselves from a grizzly attack … might seem like a straightforward task. But it’s not. Human-wildlife conflict is a challenge in many parks and protected areas, and is often th...
Land-use and Personal Wellbeing is Topic for USU's Research Landscapes
Researcher Courtney Flint, a natural resources sociologist, will address how understanding the relationship between Utah's lands and personal well being, as well as the importance of including the goals and objectives of key stakeholders in making land-us...
Understanding Migration Requires Understanding Changing Land Systems
For tens of millions of people, migration is a tough reality. What causes people to migrate away from their home countries, and what happens when they do? Migrants and their labor are responsible for moving hundreds of billions of dollars around the world...
Fearing Cougars More Than Wolves, Yellowstone Elk Manage Threats From Both
Wolves are charismatic, conspicuous and easy to single out as the top predator affecting populations of elk, deer and other prey animals say Utah State University researchers Michael Kohl and Dan MacNulty. However, a new study has found that the secretive...
Sarah Null's Research on the Mekong River Featured in the National Geographic
Ecology Center and Department of Watershed Sciences faculty, Sarah Null, spoke recently with the National Geographic about her research on drought and dams on the Mekong River. Null is studying dam effects on the Mekong River through a multi-year US AID p...
USU Ecologist Receives DOE Grant to Study Soil's Role in Carbon Cycle
Utah State University ecologist Bonnie Waring heads one of seven projects chosen nationally by competitive peer review for a U.S. Department of Energy Terrestrial Ecological Sciences grant. Waring receives a two-year, $295,967 award to fund her project,
Congrats to UPR Science Reporter & Ecology Graduate Student, Ashley Rohde, for Recognition by The Society of Professional Journalists
This week UPR Science Reporter and Ecology graduate student, Ashely Rohde, took home not one but two first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists - Utah Chapter.
Citizen Scientists: Join USU Ecologists in NSF-funded Biodiversity Study
American biologist E.O. Wilson supports the biophilia hypothesis – “BET” for short – suggesting humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. “I often cite Wilson’s quotes in my classes,” says Utah State Unive...
Biting Backfire: Some Mosquitoes Actually Benefit from Pesticide Application
The common perception that pesticides reduce or eliminate target insect species may not always hold. Utah State University researchers Jennifer Weathered and Edd Hammill report that the impacts of agricultural pesticides on assemblages of aquatic insects ...
Water is Focal Point at USU's Research Landscapes Talk in Salt Lake City
Utah is experiencing an explosion in population and a changing economy. These conditions are transforming the way the state uses water, particularly in the case of urbanization. As this trend continues, finding balance and realizing the importance of sust...
USU Researchers Featured in BBC Video on Trees in Yosemite
Jim Lutz and graduate student Sara Germain of the Department of Wildland Resources in the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources were featured in a BBC video on the life history of trees.
USU Alumna Awarded Prestigious ESA E. Lucy Braun Award
Jacqueline J. Peña, a recent Ecology master’s alumna, from the Department of Wildland Resources in the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, was awarded the 2018 Ecological Society of America (ESA) E. Lucy Braun award for her poster, “P...
USU Biologist Zach Gompert Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award
It’s a dog-eat-dog world and, in the struggle for existence, organisms interact with each other and their environment in a myriad of ways. Along that journey, they adapt, or perish, as they’re exposed to peril at every turn. “Evolution can appear random,...
Climate History in Tree Rings Builds Understanding of Climate Future
Knowledge of the past is crucial for adaptation in the future, and research from an ecologist at Utah State University may help promote better understanding of winter weather anomalies by investigating evidence of historic climate and weather.
Rachel Hager, Ecology Grad Student and UPR Science Reporter, Reports on More Precise and Accurate Travel Time for Firefighters Crossing Rough Terrain
For wildfire firefighters, knowing exactly how long it takes for them to reach safety is critical, and new research provides more precise information about the time to cross different terrains and different slopes.
Niall Clancy, Ecology Grad Student and UPR Science Reporter, Reports on USU Researchers Using Beavers As Tools In Stream Restoration
Up in the mountains near Preston, Idaho and the Oneida Narrows of the Bear River, Professor Joe Wheaton of Utah State University and his students are working to restore a small stream called Station Creek.
Charles Hawkins Awarded USU's Most Prestigious Research Accolade
Utah State University’s Office of Research announced Charles “Chuck” Hawkins as the 2019 recipient of the D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award. Hawkins is a professor in the Department of Watershed Sciences in the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Na...
UPR Science Reporter, Ashley Rohde Reports on New Technique To Extract Fuel From Algae
Researchers at the University of Utah recently published a paper describing new technology that will make the development of biofuels from plants more economically feasible.
UPR Science Reporter, Rachel Hager, Reports on Massive Fireball And Environmental Clean-Up From Controlled Explosion Of Derailed Railcars
A controlled detonation Sunday night in Juab County lit up the sky with a massive fireball. A Union Pacific freight train went off the tracks near Eureka in western Utah on Saturday derailing several railcars carrying dangerous materials, requiring a coll...
UPR Science Reporter, Rachel Hager, Reports on How Socio-Economic Differences In Extreme Heat Risk Perception May Impact Responses
The warm temperatures of spring are heading our way and the intense heat of the summer is just around the corner. Now, there is new research investigating how we perceive extreme heat and how it can affect us.
Science Utah Podcast Episode 5: Stream Restoration with Beavers
Listen as UPR's Niall Clancy visits a unique stream restoration project in southern Idaho. Features Professor Joe Wheaton from the Utah State University Restoration Consortium.
Yellowstone Elk Don't Budge for Wolves say Scientists
Elk roam the winter range that straddles the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park with little regard for wolves, according to a new study in the Journal of Animal Ecology by Utah State University researchers illustrating how elk can tolerate liv...
USU's Science Unwrapped Explores the Ångström Scale Friday, March 22
Born in Sweden in 1814, Anders Ångström was a physicist, solar astronomer and a pioneer in the field of spectroscopy. He was among the first scientists to identify hydrogen in the Sun’s atmosphere and to examine the spectrum of the Aurora Borealis.
The Early Bird Gets the Protein Despite a Changing Climate
When millions of geese descend from the warm winds carrying them north along the Pacific coast to Alaska, they are arriving a bit earlier every year. Shifts in global climate patterns are changing the way migratory birds move around the globe each spring ...
Science Utah Podcast Episode 4: Dog Poop
UPR's Ashley Rhode explores how dog doo can impact water quality.
Focusing the Heat: Extreme Weather Risk Perception in the United States
Heat waves are more dangerous than tornadoes, statistically. They kill more people than sharks, and put more human lives at risk than blizzards, floods or lightning storms. But they lack a certain dramatic flair, making it surprisingly difficult for many ...
Science Utah Podcast Episode 3: The Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in the American West. This week, UPR's Niall Clancy explores the perceptions and realities of the ESA with the help of the University of Utah's Dr. Bob Keiter.
UPR Science Reporter, Leslie Forero, Reports on Study That Suggests Microevolution and Macroevolutionary Patterns Seen In Pigeon Lice
Microevolution, or traits varying due to natural selection, is pretty settled in evolutionary science. But macroevolution – the evolution of new species – hasn’t been observed. Doctor Sarah Bush, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Utah, was
Extension Specialist Awarded For Research On Behalf Of Small Farmers
While most individuals are unaware of how food gets from farm to table, Dr. Kynda Curtis, a professor and extension specialist in applied economics at Utah State University, is all too familiar with the process. “I’ve specialized over the years in, more
Drought Linked to Declines of Unique Bear Lake Fish
Bear Lake, on the Idaho-Utah border, is sometimes referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” due to its turquoise-blue waters. Locally famous for its Raspberry Festival, boating opportunities, and fishing, Bear Lake is also home to several species of f...
Complex Economic And Socio-Political Challenges Of Wildfires In The Intermountain West
New research suggests that social and economic impacts of wildfire are becoming more complex. Liana Prudencio is a PhD student in Watershed Sciences and the Climate Adaption Science program at Utah State University.
Science Utah Podcast Episode 2: Fishes of Bear Lake
This episode of Science Utah features stories from UPR's Riana Gayle and Niall Clancy. Tune in to hear about northern Utah's Bear Lake, its fishes, and what's being done to conserve them.
USU AggieAir At Forefront Of Drone Technology
USU AggieAir At Forefront Of DroneDrones may be the future of convenience and delivery, but there are still many challenges when it comes to using them in urban environments. Utah State University’s AggieAir team will be addressing these challenges during...
Aiming for Gold: Improving Reproducibility in Hydrology Studies
In six well-regarded hydrology and water resources journals published in 2017, the estimated percentage of studies whose results could be fully reproduced was only between 0.06 and 6.8 percent. This low level of reproducibility is not uncommon in hydrolog...
Burning Fossil Fuels Reduces Diversity In Wet Regions, Study Suggests
Coal is big in Utah. It's our state rock and according to the US Energy Information Administration, it represents one-third of our state's total energy production. But Utah's coal may be having unexpected consequences on the grasslands and wetter places i...
Science Utah: UPR Announces New Podcast
Join UPR for a new podcast - Science Utah! Each episode features stories and commentary by UPR's science reporters on subjects like bees, air quality, or even dog poop.
Science Utah Podcast Episode 1: Bee Ranchers
For Science Utah's inaugural podcast episode, reporters Ashley Rhode and Rachel Hager join producer Niall Clancy for a discussion about Utah's state insect.
Created at USU, 'The Crossroads Project' Unlocks People's Thinking
Scientists get a bad rap for being poor communicators, says Utah State University physics alum and faculty member Rob Davies (Physics, MS’96, PhD ’99). “Some scientists are fabulous communicators,” says Davies, associate professor of professional practic...
USU Launches New Research Series on Land, Water and Air
The second USU Research Landscapes event will be held on June 18, and will feature research about Utah's water usage by Department of Biology Professor Michelle Baker. Courtney Flint, a USU sociology professor, presents on Oct. 1, and will discuss her fin...
Cheetahs around Cheyenne? New Book Reviews the Rewilding Concept in Ecology
A new scientific book, commissioned by the British Ecological Society and published by Cambridge University Press, provides the first comprehensive and rigorous review of the rewilding concept. It was a topic of controversy more than a decade ago when a h...
'Can Microbes Change History?' Asks Science Unwrapped Friday, Jan. 25
Before humans knew they existed, tiny microbes were hard at work in helpful and sometimes not-so-helpful ways. “Microscopic organisms have influenced major historical events,” says Utah State University biologist Bonnie Waring. “They also influence the h...
USU Bee Surveys in Newest National Park Could Aid Studies Elsewhere
Declines in native bee populations are widely reported, but can existing data really analyze these trends? In the Jan. 17, 2019, online edition of PLOS One, Utah State University and USDA researchers report findings about pollinator biodiversity in Califo...
Scott Jones Named Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America
Utah State University soil science Professor Scott Jones was named a fellow of the Soil Science Society of America during the organization’s annual conference in early January. Only a fraction (0.3 percent) of the society’s active and emeritus members may...
Two New Wildflower Species Discovered in Logan Canyon
You would think that scientists would know how many species occur in an area, especially one as well-populated as Cache County. But scientists at Utah State University just discovered two new species of wildflowers that only occur near Logan – and they th...
Animals, the Keepers of Natural Climate Change Solutions?
What does your favorite wild animal, a wildebeest, a wolf, and a sea otter have in common? Among many similarities, these and other wild animals affect the carbon cycle. And in case you need another reason to appreciate wild animals more, scientists sugge...
USU Grad Students Gain Cross-Disciplinary Skills to Tackle Climate Change
How do you tackle a wicked problem like climate change? This hot-button issue involves a complex web of tenacious public opinion, volatile political environments, variable economics, intricate natural systems and time frames much longer than most folk’s a...
Global Research Exchanges Benefit Utah Aspen
A weave of Utah State University international relationships has led to worldwide forest ecology research, the establishment of a consortium, and hopefully a better understanding of one of the world’s oldest and largest single organisms.
A Finger on the Pulse of U.S. State Parks
Roaming with bison in Custer, South Dakota or gawking at drop-dead vistas from Dead Horse Point, Utah … state parks in the United States offer spectacular scenery and seemingly endless acres of recreation opportunities. Although each state park system is ...
Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Where we agree and where we don't
The New York Times published a summary of research by Peter Howe, assistant professor in the Environment and Society Department at Utah State University, and his colleagues in the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which demonstrates that Ameri...
USU Ecology Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Luncheon Symposium
Utah State University ecologists celebrated past and current achievements during the USU Ecology Center’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Symposium held Oct. 24, 2018, in the Huntsman Hall Perry Pavilion on campus. Among the honored guests were past center ...
Modern Wildfire Trends Underestimates Future Risks to Water Security
Dramatic increases in wildfire over the last few decades have garnered considerable media attention. Numerous headlines have claimed that the amount of wildfire in the western U.S. is unprecedented. However, in a recent issue of Earth’s Future, published ...
First comprehensive assessment of Pando reveals critical threats
Utah State University researchers Paul Rogers and Darren McAvoy have conducted the first complete assessment of the Pando aspen clone and the results show continuing deterioration of this 'forest of one tree.' ... Rogers and McAvoy, in a PLOS ONE publicat...
Sustaining Wetlands to Mitigate Disasters and Protect People
Joanna Endter-Wada and Karin Kettenring contributed a guest editorial to the October edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on the value of wetlands to mitigate weather catastrophes. These Utah State University researchers from the S. J. a
Dr. William Pearse among NSF funded new projects to address longstanding, multi-scaled environmental problems
In a press release, dated August 29, 2018, the National Science Foundations (NSF) announced their investment of $9 million in nine new projects to research biosphere processes and their complex interactions with climate, land use and invasive species at r...
The Crossroads Project: Unlocking People’s Thinking
Scientists get a bad rap for being poor communicators, says USU Physics alum and faculty member Rob Davies (Physics, MS’96, PhD ’99). “Some scientists are fabulous communicators,” says Davies, associate professor of professional practice in USU’s Departm...