Pulling all-nighters— black bears’ response to human development

Study shows human proximity affecting the sleeping patterns of black bears Kathy Zeller, Environmental Conservation, writes in  The Conversation about her recent study of the behavior of Massachusetts black bears as they move into human-dominated areas.     From “Black bears adapt to life near humans by burning the midnight oil”:  Why would black bears use populated areas? They are omnivorous opportunists with a good sense of smell, and can sniff out calorie-rich foods that often are found in developed areas, such as bird seed, pet food, garbage and even agricultural crops. These foods may be especially attractive to bears before and after hibernation, when the animals are living solely off stored body fat.   "Wild animals are increasing their nocturnal activity in response to development and other human activities." — Kathy Zeller Before hibernation in the fall, bears enter a metabolic state called hyperphagia – literally, excessive eating – in which they consume 15,000 to 20,000 calories a day. That’s roughly equivalent to eight large cheese pizzas or five gallons of chocolate ice cream. "Most...
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Students’ summer wardrobe: lab coat

Lee SIP scholars find training — and community — in labs across campus  Even as they investigate disparate scientific questions in labs all over campus, an expanding group of CNS undergraduates are making the same discovery about themselves: They are scientists.  Jiun Tseng, a rising junior and biology major, points out the lighter and darker shades of blue on a strip of gel that she’s stained in Larry Schwartz’s lab. “The whole gel is covered with protein,” she explains, “except where the specific enzymes we’re studying have chewed it all up and you get this clear spot. That’s a band that shows not just that your protein is there, but your protein is active.” She’s working with Schwartz to study programmed cell death in Manduca sexta caterpillars as part of the metamorphic process.   “Jiun has been in my lab just a couple of weeks,” explains Schwartz. “She watched me run these particular kinds of gels that we're doing and took careful notes. And then yesterday she just did the whole thing, soup to nuts. This isn’t busywork. You want the...
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City planning for a changing climate

Ecologist developing new tool to aid cities and towns in land-use decisions  In a new project funded by the Commonwealth, Timothy Randhir, environmental conservation is developing a planning tool to support and improve community and agency decisions in the Connecticut River watershed. Randhir is developing a new decision tool for cities, towns, farms and landowners to help assess climate impacts on urban and rural areas that include storm water flooding, drought, disrupted water supply, heat waves, soil erosion and loss, groundwater depletion, soil deterioration, and variable rainfall and temperature patterns.  "There is a need for developing scientific information on landscapes that can help in land use and water use decisions.” — Timothy Randhir It will provide a broad look at possible future effects of climate change on water resources and other ecosystem services like soil health, and the “heat island” effect. The work is supported by an 18-month, $82,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation; Randhir hopes to deliver a prototype of the decision tool in the fall.  He says,...
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Graduate Student, Lucas Griffin’s Tarpon Research Featured

Graduate Student, Lucas Griffin’s Tarpon Research Featured

By Mark Wilson, FOX 13 News Posted Aug 02 2019 02:43PM EDT Video Posted Aug 02 2019 02:50PM EDT Updated Aug 02 2019 02:53PM EDT ENGLEWOOD, Fla. (FOX 13) - With the tarpon population believed to be in decline, a non-profit group is employing new state-of-the-art trackers to better understand and protect Florida's most-prized sport fish. In the waters off Little Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande, charter fishermen like Captain David Hutcherson hook up with the silver kings, get their photos, then allow them to be tagged and tracked. "They're beautiful, they're so powerful," said Hutcherson. "It really is amazing and it's worth conserving." On a steamy July morning, Hutcherson has a full boat, with FOX 13 cameras and JoEllen Wilson and Lucas Griffin of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. Hutcherson spots a tarpon, casts quickly and hooks up in mere seconds. What follows is a heart-pounding, awe-inspiring dance of the silver king as the 100-pound fish leaps out of the water, twisting and turning until it eventually frees itself of the hook. "Awww, so close,"...
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Sea turtles, drones, and remote islands of Brazil

UMass ecologist will lead study using new methods to follow green sea turtles The National Science Foundation this month announced that Lisa Komoroske, environmental conservation, will co-lead a four-year, $1.4 million, multi-institution grant to study how reproductive behaviors will influence the effects of climate change on green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).   Her team will spend months in the field at turtle nesting beaches on Fernando de Noronha, a marine reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site composed of an archipelago of 21 islands about 220 miles off the coast of Brazil. She and collaborators at Florida State and Oregon State universities will also work with the Brazil-based non-profit conservation organization PROJECTO TAMAR on the project.  Komoroske and her colleagues believe this work will be the first comprehensive examination of resilience to environmental change among these turtles and will provide insights relevant to other temperature sex-determined species.   Komoroske, an expert in the use of genomic tools to study wildlife populations, will use genetic samples from turtle mothers and hatchlings to estimate sex ratios in a breeding population....
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