How big a deal is sustainability at Colorado State? We have so many green initiatives, we need more than a whole week to celebrate Earth Day! Earth Week is our chance to highlight some of the ways CSU is committed to sustainability every week of the year. Come celebrate all things green every day April 17-26, and check out the University-wide events calendar for more fun every day. And check out our State of Sustainability webpage that showcases what makes CSU so green, from our Platinum STARS rating to our interdisciplinary research and teaching. April 19th and 20th Ruth Shaw will be presenting as part of the GDPE Distinguished Ecologist Seminar Series at the Lory Student Center.
It's not every day someone gets to say, "I've discovered a new species." It's a claim that Colorado State University biologist Chris Funk can happily make. Funk and his collaborators, who've spent years exploring the tropical climes of South America to study the region's dizzying biodiversity, have documented a new species of rainfrog they've named and Ecuadorian rainfrog (Pristimantis ecuadorensis). The name, the researchers write, honors the "overwhelming beauty, and cultural and biological diversity" of the Republic of Ecuador, where the frog makes its home. The work is described in the journal PLOS ONE, published online March 22. The discovery sprouted from a field campaign, headed by paper lead author Juan M. Guayasamin, a professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), that was primarily intended to study a similar, threatened frog called the ornate rainfrog (Pristimantis ornatissimus). Funk and Guayasamin have been collaborators and friends for 20 years. In 2009, they discovered a species of frog in the eastern Andean slopes of Ecuador that they named Pristimantis bicantus, and in 2006 they described a new glassfrog (Nymphargus wileyi).
Colorado State University junior Sarah Whipple wasn't always a fan of bugs. But after going on her first bioblitz in 2015, she volunteered the next year to lead a team cataloguing insects at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. In bioblitz, researchers, students and citizen scientists visit a national park and count as many species as possible in 24 hours. "There were a ton of exotic insects and I really enjoyed it," said Whipple, who is majoring in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability. Whipple said she intends to apply for the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU after she completes her undergraduate work. Gillian Bowser, research scientist at CSU, has served as a mentor to Whipple, and tapped her for 3dNaturalist and the Pollinator Hotshots. Bowser designed this project to introduce minority students to citizen science, community engagement and national parks by connecting them with big data projects through smartphone apps and other technological approaches.
It can seem a pretty daunting challenge when you serve on a committee charged with bringing about major institutional change, overcoming obstacles and structural constraints shaped by history and human nature over 150 years. But the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty has moved swiftly, boldly and with determination to forge a better future for Colorado State University despite its relative newness in the institution's long life. President Tony Frank established the committee in May 2014, making the announcement in a message to campus titled Shifting our Trajectory, acknowledging the need to change the climate for women at CSU. Members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty include Erica Suchman, Tammy Donahue, Ellen Fisher, Cori Wong, Cynthia Brown, Jennifer Nyborg, Diana Prieto, and Paul Doherty. Frank charged the standing committee with designing strategies and promoting activities that would enhance gender equality and the status of women faculty at CSU.
Colorado State University Distinguished Professor Diana Wall was recognized March 1 by the Ecological Society of America, which announced that she will receive its highest honor, the 2017 Eminent Ecologist Award, at the society's annual meeting in August. The award honors a senior ecologist for an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Wall, a world-renowned soil ecologist and director of CSU's School of Global Environmental Sustainability, said that she was deeply honored by this recognition. "I am excited to join such an esteemed group of ecologists as we work towards a future in which ecology takes center stage," she said. The Ecological Society of America has more than 10,000 members worldwide. Sixty-four ecologists have received this top honor since it was first awarded in 1953. Wall recently returned from Antarctica - her 27th year "on the ice" - with a team of researchers from CSU and across the United States. She studies soil nematodes, or roundworms, in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the coldest, driest and windiest ecosystems on the planet.
John McKay, an associate professor in CSU's Department of Bioagricultureal Sciences and Pest Management, will lead the project - Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) - which will automate the phenotyping of plant roots in agricultural fields and allow researchers to learn more about the genetic composition of the plants based on their roots. "This grant will allow us to scale up our research and look at roots in thousands of research plots and millions of plants," said McKay. "Previously, we were limited by the number of plants we could harvest by hand which meant we lacked the power to identify genes underlying important variation in root traits, including the ideal root systems for maximizing water and nutrient use efficiency." The project will employ two different approaches - pulling the plants out of the ground using a machine currently deployed to examine above-ground material and examing the soil around the plants by using novel, automated sampling the soil throughout the growing season. The researchers are interested in learning which nutrients each plant genotype is using and how much carbon remains in the soil.
Evolution is not easy to measure in a field setting, which is why Ruth Hufbauer, a professor in CSU's Department of Bioagricultural Scineces and Pest Management, and her colleagues Whristopher Weiss-Lehman and Brett Melbourne, from CSU's Department of Ecology and Evoulutionary Biology, used flour beetles (Tribolium castaneum) to observe evolutionary processes in controlled envrironments. The researchers created two different kinds of range expansions - structured, where they allowed beetles to expand across a landscape generation to generation under normal conditions, and shuffled, where each individual beetle was counted in a landscape each generation and then mixed together and put back. By putting the same number of individuals at a given location in a landscape as had originally been there, the researchers were able to reproduce the demographics of the landscape as it was prior to shuffling, while mixing up any genetic structure that have developed. The shuffled beetles moved across the landscape more slowly and more predictably. In contrast, normally structured populations moved faster on average, but with more variation in movement, making them less predictable.
Healthy soil is rich in organic matter, but scientists have yet to fully understand exactly how that organic matter is formed. Colorado State University soil scientist Cynthis Kallenbach has contributed new insight, offering evidence for microbial pathways being the chief originator of the organic matter found in stable soil carbon pools. Kallenbach, a postdoctoral researcher in the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, co-authored a recent Nature Communications paper on the topic with Professors Stuart Grandy and Serita Frey of the University of New Hampshire, where Kallenbach completed her Ph.D. She is working now with Matthew Wallenstein, assistant professor in ecosystem science and sustainability in the Warner College of Natural Resources. In the study, which was conducted at University of New Hampshire, Kallenbach et al. suggest that soil organic matter accumulates from inputs of dead microbial cells and microbial byproducts formed when microbes eat plant roots and residues, rather than from plants themselves, as previously thought.
In November 2015, an unprecedented experiment led by Colorado State University started about 25 miles north of Fort Collins. Bison, once native to the area, had been absent for over a century. That changed when the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation herd was released onto a 1,000-acre pasture at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space. The monumental effort, the result of numerous partnerships, also provides unique research opportunities. Kate Wilkins, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology in the Warner College of Natural Resources, is studying the ecological and social impacts of reintroducing bison on the prairie. Wilkins began her research on the area prior to the reintroduction to establish a baseline. "I'm looking at birds, mammals and plants, and how they're affected by bison," Wilkins said. The CSU team conducted wildlife surveys using 60 cameras spread throughout the bison's range. This generated 174,000 photos in a single season. Wilkins and researchers are still reviewing more than 80,000 images to differentiate data points of animals from photos of grass blowing in the wind, which also triggered the motion-sensing cameras.
Two professors - who first met more than 20 years ago in Alaska - were reunited in May, further south in the much warmer location of Todos Santos. Both researchers study mammals that live in the sea and how those animals are adapted to their environments: Shane Kanatous, associate professor in Colorado State University's department of Biology, and Tania Zenteno-Savin, professor of environmental planning and conservation at Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR) in La Paz, Baja California Sur, first met in Alaska during a Harbor seal research trip in Prince William Sound. Now, 20 years later, they have connected again through the CSU Todos Santos Center. Kanatous was team-teaching a CSU field marine biology course with Graham Peers from the Department of Biology. Their students explored the marine environment and discovering ways to learn from and interact with residents whose families have been living in the area for generations.
Two leading Colorado educational institutions have announced an agreement to work together to elevate research, enhance educational opportunities for students and the public, and highlight their academic alignment. As part of the agreement, CSU sponsored the Extreme Mammals exhibit at DMNS, which runs through January 8, 2017. The exhibit from the American Museum of Natural History in New York showcases extreme characteristics of mammals throughout time. "Our involvement with the museum is a really great fit because Colorado State counts some of the world's most accomplished conservation biologists among its faculty. Folds like George Wittemyer and Joel Berger, to name just a few," said Elias Martinez, assistant vice president of brand strategy at CSU. "Helping bring Extreme Mammals to Denver and sharing our story as it relates to the exhibit will hopefully raise more awareness of the important work we're doing in this are."
A group of researchers from five departments within four colleges at Colorado State University, as well as one federal agency has determined how carbon produced by fire moves through the environment by water erosion. This carbon, also known as pyrogenic carbon, or PyC, is especially mobile due to its light weight, but is also very hard to degrade and can persist in the environment for centuries to millennia. Because of its high mobility, PyC produced by fires can often be found far from the place where fire took place. The study addressed a multitude of aspects of the environment and scientists from across campus - soil biogeochemists, hydrologists, geo-morphologists, chemists, and ecologists - came together to develop what is truly a transdisciplinary report. "We had to learn to speak each other's languages," said Francesca Cotrufo, lead author of the study, professor in CSU's Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and a senior scientist in CSU's Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory. In addition to Cotrufo, other authors on the study included: Claudia M. Boot, Stephanie Kampf, Peter A. Nelson, Daniel J. Brogan, Tim Covino, Michelle L. Haddix, Lee H. MacDonald, Sara Rathburn, Sandra Ryan-Burkett, Sarah Schmeer, and Ed Hall.
Robin Reid does not like being called an expert, despite the accolades she's received for her grasslands research in Kenya, Mongolia and Colorado. Instead, she gives credit to the people she's collaborated with, individuals that she refers to as "great people" and good friends. "I am always working very closely with people that live on the land, trying to bring science to help them on issues that they care about," she said. Reid, a professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and head of the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University, delivered the eighth President's Community Lecture in the Lory Student Center Theatre Tuesday night. Reid said she has seen the power and magic that can happen when people come together and work on a difficult problem.
International conservationist Robin Reid, a professor in Colorado State University's Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, will be the featured speaker for the President's Community Lecture Series Sept. 27. Reid, who also serves as director of the Center for Collaborative Conservation and is a co-founder of the Colorado conservation Exchange, will give a talk titled, "Walking with Herders (and Others): Bringing Different People Together to Work with Nature," 6:30-8 p.m., Sept. 27, at the Lory Student Center Theatre. In her work over the years, Reid has found ways to bring together businesses, government, citizens and scientists to work out solutions for complicated conservation problems that benefit both people and nature. She has worked to transform how we do science, so it is more useful and accessible to the communities it is designed to serve.
The world's rivers are regulated by about 58,000 large dams (more than 15 m high) that provide water supplies for municipalities and irrigation, allow downstream navigation, and enable hydropower production, addressed by an article in Science co-authored by N. LeRoy Poff. New dams are widely seen as sources of green energy. An estimated 75% of the world's potential hydropower capacity is unexploited, and some 3700 new dams are currently proposed in developing economies. But dams also cause substantial and often unacknowledged environmental damage. Recent research affords insight into how dams might be strategically operated to partially restore some lost ecosystem functions and services.
Colorado State University is the recipient of more than $1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to support The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship program. The award supports 12 dedicated graduate students from domestic underrepresented minority backgrounds who are pursuing graduate studies in STEM - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - programs at CSU. Greg Florant, professor of biology, will serve as the director of the Graduate Center for Diversity and Access, to provide leadership for the LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship Program. "Serving in this new role aligns with my ongoing passion for mentoring underrepresented students pursuing education in the sciences," he said. "Despite seeing the percentage of all doctoral degrees granted to underrepresented minority students in the STEM disciplines at CSU during the last 15 years increase from 2.1 percent to 10.8 percent, we know there is much more work to be done.
Colorado State University's expanding Climate Smart Agriculture initiatives deepened its international focus as a four-member group from Fort Collins traveled to Rome earlier this summer for the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization office. The GACSA forum focused on the three pillars of CSA: productivity, adaptation and mitigation. The CSU delegation, which included Office of Engagement Vice President Lou Swanson, Vice President for Research Alan Rudolph, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences Professor Rajiv Khosla, and Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Professor Dennis Ojima, further reinforced the university's leadership in the area of climate smart agriculture. "Colorado State had the largest presence among U.S. universities at the Rome forum," Swanson said. "We are a founding member of GACSA, and are working in a number of areas across campus, around the state and globally to further develop effective socioeconomic and ecological programs that address challenges associated with changing weather patterns, especially in terms of producer adaptability and resiliency."
Although CSU students experience the wilds of Colorado's Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains regularly, study whales, sea turtles, and marine fish in the College of Natural Sciences' Department of Biology has largely been an academic exercise - until this year. This summer term, seven eager undergraduate students spent nearly three weeks in the field - and on the water- in the first Field Marine Biology course at CSU's Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Shane Kanatous, associate professor of biology, and Graham Peers, assistant professor of biology, led the class. "Baja California is a narrow strip of Sonoran Desert with mountain peaks, the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other," said Mike Antolin, chair of the Department of Biology. Earlier this year, the department organized a Computational Biology and Genomics Workshop for local students, taught by CSU faculty Kim Hoke, associate professor; Tai Montgomery, assistant professor; and Dan Sloan, assistant professor - with local help from Aines Castro Prieto.
Animals that live at high elevations are often assumed to be at risk for extinction as habitats warm and change. But a new study led by Colorado State University researchers found that ptarmigan, which live in cold ecosystems, are not strongly affected by fluctuations in seasonal weather at two populations studied in Colorado. The results, published July 15 in the journal PLOS ONE, are surprising, given the general perception of alpine animal populations as vulnerable to recent climate warming, study authors said. Ptarmigan are grouse that live in cold ecosystems, such as alpine and tundra habitats, said Greg Wann, PhD candidate in CSU's Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and a member of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Wann and study co-authors, including CSU Associate Professor Cameron Aldridge, analyzed 45 years of reproductive data for two Colorado populations of white-tailed ptarmigan. The team did not track seasonal temperatures, but noted warming at study sites during the spring and summer based on data from Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research.
The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is pleased to announce the designation of 21 Programs of Research & Scholarly Excellence (PRSE) for fiscal years 2017-2020. "These PRSEs were selected because they have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence in research, teaching and service both internally and externally. This designation provides enhanced visibility and enables advocacy in the context of the larger research and training missions of CSU," said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research. Winning programs will be appointed a graduate fellow annually to increase research capabilities and provide hands-on learning experience for graduate students. "The Graduate School is extremely pleased to provide an annual graduate fellowship to each program. Graduate research will bolster the momentum of these innovative programs while the fellows themselves will benefit from an experience that advances their ability to create pioneering research," said Jodie Hanzlik, dean of the Graduate School. Renewed PRSE programs include the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (GDPE).
The summer solstice is upon us and plants are happily soaking up the maximum amount of sunlight on the longest day of the year. Inside the Colorado State University Horticulture Center, however, plants don't know the difference between the summer solstice and the winter solstice - especially the hops. A collaborative partnership with Philips Lighting allows Bill Bauerle, professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at CSU, to produce and harvest hops five times a year - something unique in the United States. "This is the only location in the United States that is able to produce the product five times a year," said Bauerle. CSU's Horticulture Center is one of the only growing facilities in the country using the specialized Philips Horticulture LED Solutions lighting, which supports a much quicker growing cycle. "I had the idea to grow hops in our new facility," said Bauerle. "The timing was right because the new Horticulture Center provided a high-class facility to work in."
In tropical climates, animals and plants aren't adapted to surviving freezing temperatures - and why would they be? It's never all that cold near the Equator, even at altitude. But in places like the Rocky Mountains, where temperatures can climb into the 100s and dip below freezing, species are hardier and more equipped to deal with such fluctuations. These divergent climate tolerances play crucial roles in how species evolve. Colorado State University research offers new insight into this long-held understanding of species diversity. The study, published online June 15 in Proceedings of the Royal Society London B - Biological Sciences will be featured on the journal's printed cover. The lead author is Brian Gill, a graduate student co-advised by Chris Funk in the College of Natural Sciences' Department of Biology and Boris Kondratieff in the College of Agricultural Sciences' Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management. Gill led a field team that traversed watersheds in the wilds of Colorado's Rocky Mountains and in the remote Ecuadorian Andes to collect and analyze thousands of mayflies at comparable elevations.
Data from an extensive multi-year Colorado State University study of air emissions from natural gas operations in Garfield County, Colorado have been presented publicly by a CSU research team. The study, Characterizing Air Emissions from Natural Gas Drilling and Well Completion Operations in Garfield County, Colorado, was commissioned in 2012 by Garfield County. It was aimed at characterizing the extent of air emissions from natural gas extraction activities. The western Colorado county contains the Picean Basin and has some of the highest oil and gas activity in the state. Collett and other researchers, including co-principal investigator Jay Ham, CSU professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, obtained air samples for scientific data surrounding well pad activities. Air Resource Specialist, a company that offers air quality monitoring and modeling, also contributed to the project. The CSU researchers collected and characterized emissions from three activities during new well development: drilling, hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and flowback - all processes typical of unconventional natural gas extraction. They quantified air emission rates and dispersion of air toxins, ozone precursors and greenhouse gases during each of these processes.
CSU Professor Maria Fernández-Giménez has received the Order of the Polar Star from the government of Mongolia, the highest civilian honor the country presents to foreign nationals. Fernández-Giménez was selected due to her long-standing commitment to researching Mongolia's extensive rangelands and how natural and human communities are adapting to ecological and economic change. Fernández-Giménez has been researching rangeland systems and the pastorialist they support in Mongolia since the early 1990s, when she was among the first Western scientists to conduct research inMongolia following the country's transition from communism to a market-based economy. She joins the rarified air of previous recipients including former Secretary of State Hillary Clionton, and Sen. John McCain. Accorting to a decree from President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Fernández-Giménez received the honor due to her contributions to improving the knowledge of experts concerning animal husbandry in steppe regions, protection of natural resources and capacity-building.
Colorado's latest State Wildlife Action plan now includes an assessment of how key habitat types could be impacted by a changing climate, and the collaborative effort that produced the analysis has received a national award. Two programs from Colorado State University, including the Colorado Natural Heritage Program and the Department of Interior North Central Climate Science Center, collaborated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to create the plan. The North Central Climate Science Center - a partnership between the Department of Interior and a regional university consortium that includes CSU, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Nebraska, Montana State University, University of Wyoming, Colorado School of Mines, The University of Montana, Iowa State University and Kansas State University - contributed additional expertise and resources to help shed light on how climate is expected to affect habitats in the future. Jeff Morisette, director of the North Central Climate Science Center, also applauded the concerted effort. "The open communication and collaboration among the three groups allowed us, collectively, to refine project objectives and methods, and, through these refinements, co-produce a more credible, salient and legitimate end product," he said.
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is pleased to announce its 2016 fellows. The Society's fellows program recognizes the many ways in which our members contribute to ecological research and discovery, communication, education and pedagogy, and to management and policy. Fellows are members who have made outstanding contributions to a wide range of fields served by ESA, including, but not restricted to those that advance or apply ecological knowledge in academics, government, non-profit organizations and the broader society. They are elected for life. Fellows elected in 2016 in recognition for advancing the science of ecology include Alan K. Knapp and N. LeRoy Poff. Alan K. Knapp, Professor, Department of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, for his contributions to understanding the impacts of climatic variability and climate change on terrestrial ecosystems. N. LeRoy Poff, Professor, Department of Biology, Colorado State University, for pioneering research on stream ecology that has advanced ecological theory as well as playing a central role in developing solutions to critical environmental problems concerning water resources.
Hydraulic fracturing, a widely used method for extracting oil and gas from otherwise impenetrable shale and rock formations, involves not only underground injections composed mostly of water, but also a mixture of chemical additives. These chemicals range from toxic biocides and surfactants, to corrosion inhibitors and slicking agents, and many are also used by other industries. Researchers set out to discover whether the degradation of these chemicals in agricultural soil are affected by co-contamination. The team consisted of Thomas Borch, a professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences, with joint appointments in civil and environmental engineering and chemistry; Jens Blotevogel, a research assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering; and their graduate student Molly McLaughlin.
Associate Professor Stephen Ogle of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability recently received a grant from the Fulbright Specialist Program, which promotes links between United States scholars and counterparts at institutions overseas. Ogle, also a senior research scientist in the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, will work with Universidad Nacional de Colombia to help researchers develop a better understanding of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and methods to account for the emissions. Colombia conducts greenhouse gas inventories already, Ogle said. "But researchers at the university want to develop more sophisticated methods for agriculture and croplands," he explained. More specifically, they want to improve on the inventory accounting methods as they relate to agreements made at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Colorado State University is putting diversity directly into the classroom through the Faculty Institute for Inclusive Excellence, a collaboration between the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and TILT, The Institute for Learning and Teaching. The purpose of the Institute is to transform teaching in ways that integrate awareness regarding diversity and inclusion into classroom practices, and in turn positively influence campus climate to promote equity and social justice. Fellows of the inaugural Faculty Institute for Inclusive Excellence were recognized in May with plaques presented by CSU President Tony Frank. Among the 2015-2016 cohort are Ruth Hufbauer, professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, who developed and presented a women in science departmental seminar and Maria Fernández-Giménez, professor in the Warner College of Natural Resources, who developed a comprehensive diversity plan for the Department of Forestry and Rangeland Stewardship.
A new "Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas," which has its roots (ahem) at Colorado State University will be officially unveiled May 25 in Nairobi, Kenya, at a symposium at the United Nations Environment Assembly. Did you know that there are approximately 30,000 earthworm species in the soil around the world, yet only one-quarter have been identified and described by scientists? There are also as many as 5 million fungal species; researchers have only categorized 6 percent of them, at most. More than 1 million types of bacteria are in soil, yet less than 2 percent have been described in detail. Colorado State University's Diana Wall, University Distinguished Professor and director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, is among those who spearheaded the project through her role as scientific chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. She will discuss how soil biodiversity contributes to sustainability during a panel discussion in Nairobi.
Agriculture now produces more than enough calories to meet basic human dietary needs worldwide. Despite this seeming abundance, one out of eight people do not have access to sufficient food. A new study, "Realizing Resilient Food Systems," published in the journal Bioscience May 4 and led by Meagan Schipanski, assistant professor of soil and crop sciences at Colorado State University, presents a set of strategies to address these complex challenges of producing food for a growing global population, while reducing environmental impacts and increasing resilience in the face of climate change. Using case studies from Africa, India, and Brazil, the study highlights the importance of integrated food system strategies. "Meagan's food system study is a clear example of global knowledge converging from the three dimensions of sustainability: economics, society and the environment. It is a novel and useful effort by her integrating team," said Diana Wall, director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability and a professor in CSU's Department of Biology.
The Pre-Catalyst for Innovative Partnerships (PRECIP) program, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, was created to provide seed funding and support for new, early-stage research partnerships to explore transformative, interdisciplinary ideas. The 2016 PRECIP teams have been announced. The goal of the PRECIP program is to encourage and support high-impact, interdisciplinary research collaborations that have strong potential to lead to major funding opportunities. "The PRECIP program was created to benefit interdisciplinary research teams and assist in a strategic formation in anticipation of groups applying for the Catalyst for Innovative Partnerships program proposal in 2017," said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research. Among the team members are Meagan Schipanski, Matthew Wallenstein, and Paul Meiman (Rural Wealth Creation: Exploring Food Systems-Led Development Strategies); Meena Balgopal (Dare to Know and Commit to Change: Addressing Gender Equity in the Classroom); Francesca Cotrufo, Keith Paustian, and Matthew Wallenstein (Improving Agricultural Carbon Sequestration with High-Throughput Root Phenotyping and Soil Carbon Quantification); Ken Carlson and Mary Stromberger (Transforming Urban Redevelopment with Water Sensitive Design Principles); and Stephanie Kampf (Develop an Integrated System to Maximize the Return of Investing in Fire Resilient Watersheds in the Interior West).
Passion, generosity, and diligence create a great recipe for success. This recipe closely resembles the life path of Theresa Barosh, a 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship recipient and a second-year PhD student in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University. Designed to support graduate students at CSU who excel academically and contribute to the education of underrepresented students, the scholarship is awarded to only one CSU student each year and consists of tuition coverage for one year and $9,000. "Much of my life I have benefited from the generosity of others," said Barosh. "Scholarships and grants allowed me to attend Willamette University as an undergraduate student, as my parents could not afford to put my nine siblings and me through college." Barosh's passion for making the world a better place started at an early age. She worked to help her community overcome inequalities by starting the Young Artists and Scholars, a non-profit that focuses on outreach, research, and student mentoring.
Each year, Colorado State University celebrates the teaching, research and service achievements of CSU students, alumni and friends, academic faculty, administrative professionals and classified staff. Theresa Barosh, Ecology PhD student, was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a graduate student for outstanding achievement in academics and service to and advancement of diversity. Kate Huyvaert and Paul Doherty of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology were awarded the Office of International Program Distinguished Service Award which recognizes faculty or staff who have made a significant impact campus-wide on internationalization efforts of Colorado State University. Maria Fernández-Giménez of Forest & Rangeland Stewardship received the Interdisciplinary Scholarship Award-Team which recognizes her as a part of a team whose interdisciplinary scholarship has had a major impact nationally and/or internationally, or who have demonstrated their potential to do so. Congratulations to everyone!
The global livestock sector supports about 1.3 billion producers and retailers around the world, and is a significant global economic contributor. This sector is also an important source of greenhouse gases, which includes carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Now, a new study from an international team of scientists - including Colorado State University's Richard Conant - has found that this sector could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a priority for organizations including the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This could be accomplished while maintaining the economic and social benefits from the livestock sector. Conant, associate dean and professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, is one of the authors on the new analysis, published March 22 in Nature Climate Change. Mario Herrero, chief research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia, is the lead author. "Manufacturing livestock products requires emission of greenhouse gases," explained Conant.
Joe von Fischer, associate professor of biology in the College of Natural Sciences, is featured in an April 14 Google blog post about his methane-mapping project, done in collaboration with Google Earth Outreach and Environmental Defense Fund. The post is titled "How technology can help us become more sustainable." Von Fischer has been leading a project to map the invisible methane leaks from natural gas pipelines under the streets of American cities with laser-based methane sensors attached to Google Street View cars. So far, they've created interactive maps for Boston, Indianapolis, Chicago and Los Angeles. Von Fischer explains the scope of the project in the blog post's video. A related post by Google for Work focuses on technical applications that allow Google Maps to be used within other sites, highlighting the special application of Google Maps in the methane project. Von Fischer's graduate student, Charlotte Alster, is featured in that video. CSU collaborators working with von Fischer include Jay Ham, professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences' Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, who has applied his expertise in atmospheric physics and micrometeorology.
While the use of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil is the largest contributor to emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere, a Colorado State University researcher suggests also looking at other sectors of the global economy to substantially reduce GHG emissions. A new analysis published in the prestigious journal Nature, led by Keith Paustian, CSU professor of soil and crop sciences, describes how changes in land-use practices can help reduce the levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane in the atmosphere. Other authors on this study include: Johannes Lehmann, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University; Stephen Ogle, CSU Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability; David Reay, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh; G. Philip Robertson, W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University; and Pete Smith, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen.
It's no surprise that most conservation efforts in the United States focus on animals that are hunted. But a new study from Colorado State University researchers found that improving habitats for game animals has mixed consequences for other animals in the same setting. The study calls for more scrutiny of and a more holistic approach to current management efforts. Hunting provides substantial economic benefits for states. Nearly $2 million from license fees support wildlife management and public land conservation in the state each year. "There's this notion that habitat management that's good for game species is good fro all wildlife," said Travis Gallo, Ph.D. student in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and lead author of the study. While conducting a review of published papers, Gallo said that he and Associate Professor Liba Pejchar, also in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, switched gears once they saw the lack of scientific research on the topic.
For more than 80 years, the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest freshwater aquifer in the world, has been the main source of agricultural and public water for eastern Colorado and parts of seven other states in the Great Plains. Now Colorado State University will take a leading role as part of a USDA-NIFA funded university consortium to address agricultural sustainability on the Ogallala Aquifer. "This project will integrate cutting-edge science and technology with an evaluation of policy and economic strategies as well as outreach to foster adaptive management," said Meagan Schipanski, assistant professor of Soil and Crop Sciences, and the project's lead investigator. "Our interdisciplinary team has an exceptional track record of work in the region, and this project offers an opportunity for much-needed integration and collaboration to extend the life of our shared groundwater resources."
The island fox has made a remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction, with three of six populations on their way to becoming the fastest mammal recovered under the Endangered Species Act. But new research published online March 17 in Molecular Ecology uncovers a hidden danger to the future viability of some island fox populations. Chris Funk, associate professor in the College of Natural Sciences' Department of Biology, led the research team that conducted the largest and most in-depth genetic study to date of California Channel Island foxes. Other CSU researchers who contributed to the work: Cameron Ghalambor, professor in the Department of Biology; Kevin Crooks, professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Warner College of Natural Resources; Adam Dillon, a graduate student studying with Crooks; Bill Andelt, professor emeritus in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology; and Nick Gould, Andelt's former student and now at NC State University.
The Animal Behavior Society has announced that Janice Moore, professor of biology in the College of Natural Sciences, has received the society's 2016 Exemplar Award for her "long-term contribution in animal behavior." Moore's lab explores the ecology and evolution of parasitic worms. These parasites can alter the behaviors of hosts in ways that at times enhance the transmission of the parasite; in other cases, host behavioral changes are part of host defenses against the parasite. Moore was among the first scientists to investigate the influence of such parasites and pathogens on behavior. In 2002, she published a book with Oxford University Press, Parasites and the Behavior of Animals, to address a persistent knowledge gap in how parasites, animal behavior and ecology intersect.
Agricultural research at Colorado State University takes many forms - identifying and preventing food borne illnesses; enhancing our soil for carbon sequestration; designing landscapes that use less water but remain beautiful. Not everyone at CSU, or even everyone in CSU's College of Agricultural Sciences, has a complete picture of the range of research taking place in the college's five departments. This February, the college launched a research seminar series designed to help both the college's faculty, staff, and students, as well as other members of the CSU community, gain a better understanding of the cutting-edge research taking place in agricultural labs, studios and fields. The first seminar was held Feb. 3 and was delivered to a standing-room only crowd by Courtney Jahn, Kirk Broders, Todd Gaines, Ruth Hufbauer, Andrew Norton - all faculty members in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management.
Greg Florant doesn't mind being the groundhog guy - in fact, he rather likes it. "My big day is coming up," he jokes - that is, Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, when Punxsatawney Phil will be forcibly pulled from his hidey-hole so he can predict whether we'll have an early spring or six more weeks of winter. That's right - CSU has its very own groundhog expert. So ask away. Can Phil really predict the weather? "Completely false," says Florant, professor of biology in the College of Natural Sciences. "But it's a good story." To be more scientifically exact, Florant studies marmots - close relatives of the groundhog, which is also called a woodchuck or whistlepig. All of the above belong to the genus Marmota. In his research, Florant is focused on answering questions about how these amazing creatures change their food intake and metabolism during their seven-month hibernation cycle - how their body masses change, and how their lipid storage processes are affected by their extremely long nap.
Bat body type, and the environmental conditions bats use in their hibernation sites, may explain species differences in bat mortality from white-nose syndrome, according to a Colorado State University-led study published online Jan. 29 in Science Advances. White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease of hibernating bats that has caused dramatic bat population declines in North America since 2007 - yet certain bats survive infection. The collaborative research was centered at Colorado State University as part of the postdoctoral fellowship of David Hayman, now at New Zealand's Massey University. While at CSU, Hayman was mentored by Colleen Webb, professor of biology in the College of Natural Sciences, as well as by Paul Cryan, a research biologist at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, and Juliet Pulliam of the University of Florida. The researchers used a mathematical model integrating the effects of bat body size and metabolism with growth of the fungus across a range of winter temperature and humidity conditions. They then showed why some bats survive infection while other do not.
A Fort Collins-based team at Colorado State University learned on Jan. 9 that it won the virtual poster session for the NASA program, beating 25 other projects involving 100 researchers at 12 other locations across the country. The team's project focused on analyzing cheatgrass cover across the area burned by the Arapaho Fire in south central Wyoming. Cheatgrass is an invasive plant species that is non-native, said Amanda West, a postdoctoral researcher with CSU's Natural Resource Ecology Lab and one of the team's advisors. Findings from the team's research will help the Wyoming State Forestry Division decide how much herbicide they will need to purchase, and where to apply it, to destroy the invasive plant species. The team's partners - and anyone, really - can also use the CSU team's maps in grant proposals, to help secure funding for cheatgrass management. CSU Research Scientist Paul Evangelista is the director and science advisor for NASA DEVELOP at CSU.
Sparse or erratic rainfall leaves farmers looking for anything they can do to increase yield while decreasing things that cost money - such as irrigation. High Plains crop producers have a keen interest in both crop rotation and management strategies that influence their economic viability and the future of their agricultural enterprises. Colorado State University crop and soil scientist Meagan Schipanski is interested in how diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops can maintain yields, keep soils productive, reduce environmental impacts and address retention of both soil carbon and water. She recently secured funding for a collaborative grant for sites in northeastern Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. Extension personnel on the Golden Plains will be assisting in local areas by providing a solid producer base for onsite research.
Ruth Hufbauer, a professor in CSU's Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, along with Brett Melbourne, and assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder, have been using Tribolium castaneum beetles which they housed in small, clear containers to simulate a species on the decline. "To avoid extinction, genetics is where it's at," said Haufbauer. "We found that the introduction of new genes was a significant factor in helping the population thrive, especially in smaller populations." Hufbauer notes that large populations saw some benefit in adding more, genetically-similar individuals. But both small and large populations, grew rapidly just two generations after 1-3 genetically-distinct individuals were introduced.
Every now and then, colonies of prairie dogs are wiped out by plague, an infectious disease most often associated with the Black Death of the 14th century. A multi-year, CSU-led study that involved trapping and testing thousands of prairie dogs across the Pawnee National Grassland, and tens of thousands of their plague-carrying fleas, was conducted by CSU biologist Daniel Salkeld and Michael Antolin, and is published online Jan. 13 in BioScience. Their work will be featured on the journal's cover. The multi-year effort, supported by the National Science Foundation, was joined by other CSU researchers including evolutionary ecologist Colleen Webb, and mammologist Paul Stapp, a CSU Ph.D. now at Cal State Fullerton. Other partners were the Centers for Disease Control, and the Ranger District for the Pawnee National Grasslands, which provided long-term prairie dog town size and location data.
People are at the core of the mission of the Colorado State University Center in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Less than two years since inception, the CSU Center at Todos Santos has become a unique education and research site for CSU professors and students, a place to create partnerships within the Baja California Sur region, and an opportunity for innovative connections with the local community. In January, Kate Huyvaert, associate professor of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, and 15 students will be in Todos Santos for the first semester abroad program for undergraduate majors in her department at the CSU Center at Todos Santos. Paul Doherty has taught Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology courses as the CSU Center at Todos Santos, and said, "Baja California Sur adds ecosystems - marine, coastal, desert, tropical - and associated wildlife that we do not have in Colorado."
While the demand for ivory has put elephants under incredible pressure from poachers, their rich social networks have remained remarkably steady. That's according to evidence on the grouping patterns among adult female elephants living in northern Kenya over a 16-year period, which show that daughters often step up to take the place of their fallen mothers. The findings are reported by researchers at Colorado State University in Current Biology on Dec. 17. "We were surprised at just how important a mother's associates were to her daughter's new bonds," said Shifra Goldenberg, lead author and PhD student in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology in the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU. The research team included CSU's George Wittemyer, associate professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology and Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who quantified the severity of elephant poaching in a previous study.
Colorado State University's Diana Wall and coauthors make the case to integrate soil biodiversity research into human health studies in a paper published online in Nature November 23. "If we improve our management of land to enhance the biodiversity in our soils, we'll improve human health," said Wall, professor in CSU's Department of Biology, research scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability. Soil biodiversity refers to the variety of life and organisms that exist within a forest, agricultural field, park or even on a dirt road. It sounds simple, this type of integration, but the concept is only recently gaining international acceptance. The United Nations declared 2015 as the first International Year of Soils to highlight the value of living soils to humans.
Food, energy and water are fundamental human needs. They're also deeply interconnected. To offer holistic, systems-level insights and solutions to global food, energy and water problems, Colorado State University will host a two-day workshop, "Food-Energy-Water: Nexus Issues in Energy Production," Dec. 7-8 at the Marriott Residence Inn, Arlingotn, Va. Registration is free but required. "Think about food, energy and water: they are all critical resources for society," said Ken Reardon, CSU professor of chemical and biological engineering and workshop organizer. "You can't trade one for the other, and they interact. You can't fix one problem without thinking about how that solution is impacting the others."
Do you know how many small, sustainable actions you take every day, and how they stack up to save energy and water and reduce waste? Students in the Warner College of Natural Resources recently got the chance to find out how much turning off lights and turning the thermostat down adds up. At the same time, they helped the City of Fort Collins with market research on a mobile app, "Loose a Watt," that encourages sustainable behaviors. The app attempts to "gamify" sustainability - encouraging behavior by adding game elements into non-game situations. CSU Assistant Professor Jen Solomon, instructor for the course, said the app provides a novel approach. "Gamification is used for encouraging healthy behaviors, but there aren't many examples of gamification being used successfully to encourage sustainable behaviors."
There's no evidence of water-based contaminants seeping into drinking water wells atop a vast oil and gas field in northeastern Colorado. According to Colorado State University scientists working to protect and inform citizens about the safety of their water. Ken Carlson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, has led a series of studies analyzing the impact of oil and gas drilling on groundwater in the 6,700-square-mile Denver-Julesburg Basin, which extends north-south from Greeley to Colorado Springs, and east-west from Limon to the foothills. The studies have been performed under the auspices of the Colorado Water Watch, a state-funded effort begun last year for real-time groundwater monitoring in the Denver-Julesburg Basin.
Chris Fisher, a CSU professor in the Department of Anthropology, has received a $100,000 grant from the National Geographic Society to begin a joint Honduran/CSU project to excavate a site deep in the Mosquitia tropical wilderness of Honduras. In addition, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez pledged nearly a million dollars to support archaeology and conservation in the region, some of which will help with the upcoming excavation. The story of the original expedition was told by Douglas Preston in the October issue of National Geographic. It was also the topic of a recent episode of the New National Geographic Explorer, which debuted October 4th on the National Geographic Channel.
Last summer, a group of CSU students in Belize launched a crowdfunding campaign to send local women to a Blue Ventures-sponsored workshop to learn how to create jewelry from the invasive lionfish. CSU graduate students heard about the Blue Ventures-led jewelry workshop while on a field trip and decided to help more local women attend. They said they hoped to empower the women to address the issues around the invasive fish. "The students recognized where they could make a difference and they committed to the task, even though there were so many obstacles to overcome since the work had to be done in a very tight timeframe while traveling in Belize," said Jennifer Solomon, a CSU professor and student advisor.
Researchers from Colorado State University and The Ohio State University have found evidence that we think about wildlife like our ancestors did. More specifically, the strength of Americans' "domination" wildlife values, or the belief that nature should be conquered and the natural environment used for the benefit of humans, can be traced to the country from which their ancestors migrated. "From what we know about human values, we assumed that they would persist over many generations and be unlikely to change without a significant reason," said lead investigator Mike Manfredo, head of CSU's Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. "Still, it was a bit surprising to find we could make such clear links between wildlife values and countries of ancestry."
The CSU Chapter of Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity, and Sustainability found 270 unique species calling the campus home at their SEEDS Bioblitz. "SEEDS is open to all students who are interested in getting involved in ecology education, sustainability and diversity," said club president and conservation biology graduate student Sara Bombaci. "The club decided to do an activity that would be a fun and engaging way to show off ecology careers to students who don't typically choose them." Professor Boris Kondratieff, from the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management even found a few standouts in the group of 130 different insects identified with the students. After their field observations, the students worked with the data back in the campus's research labs.
When graduate student Kate Wilkins hikes through Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space to check images on her wildlife cameras, she's looking at much more than pictures of pronghorns and prairie grasses. The ecology doctoral student is looking at an entire ecosystem, from the wildflowers animals tread upon, to birds that fly over rolling hills, and to humans who hike the trails. "This is an exciting opportunity to integrate our university's strengths in ecology, veterinary medicine, assisted reproduction, environmental anthropology, conservation social science and human well-being," said Liba Pejchar, associate professor in CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources, and co-principal investigator on the ecological part of the study.
For those familiar with the practice of composting, seeing - and smelling - the breakdown of plant and organic material over a long period of time is quite familiar. In a Colorado State University-led study, published in the journal "Nature Geoscience," a new approach to soil management for carbon sequestration may help combat climate change. Francesca Cotrufo, a professor of soil and crop sciences and lead investigator on the study, worked on the study with a number of researchers, including Diana Wall, director of CSU's School of Global Environmental Sustainability.
Cameron Ghalambor, professor of biology, researched how phenotypic plasticity may have a role in the evolutionary adaptation of populations to changed environmental conditions, but it has not been clear whether it facilitates or hinders adaptation. The authors of this study allowed guppies to evolve in a novel predator-free environment and looked at the resulting changes in gene expression. They see that the genes that evolve expression differences are not those that were adaptively phenotypically plastic, but those whose plasticity of gene expression was non-adaptive in the ancestral population.