how the wolves saved yellowstone: a lesson in keystone species

posted January 5, 2017

The first of two videos that we have for you nature lovers this morning!

Some brief and interesting context for the information presented here: wolves did not disappear from the Yellowstone landscape by incident or historical coincidence. In fact, historians say that since nearly the beginning of westward expansion by European settlers, settlers and ranchers (whose cattle were at risk of being poached) engaged in what some historians call a “war with the wolf” that culminated in the early 20th century in a governement-sponsored nation-wide “wolf control” policy. The history involves mountains of wolf carcasses, canine bounty hunters, rifles, traps, and poison– tactics so widely supported to have included environmentalists like Teddy Roosevelt and John James Audubon. For more information on this, we recommend this piece from PBS.

Just goes to show that when it comes to the incredible fragile balance of ecosystems, we don’t know what we don’t know.

Interested in learning more about how these majestic canines shape the landscape of the park? There are great resources on Yellowstone’s website.


how to conserve biodiversity on the farm

posted May 19, 2016

Agriculture comprises almost 60% of the continental U.S., and 40% of the Earth’s landscape. As our population grows and our planet heats up, it is imperative that we take
advantage of biodiversity and the benefits it provides. When doing so, the farm will be
more resilient to changes in climate that will cause increasing drought and flooding, declining ecological balance of natural predators, and more pests and sterile land-scapes. And just as important, the farm is addressing the worldwide biodiversity crisis.
Extensive Agricultural Benefits
More complex farmscapes have the greatest potential of supporting plants and animals
and the benefits they provide. Increased soil microbial diversity improves carbon stor
-age and nitrogen fixation, water retention, and decreases plant pathogens. Extensive
plant cover ensures water quality and soil conservation. The more complex the flower
-ing, and especially native habitat with structural and compositional diversity, the more
support for beneficial organisms and the quicker they colonize the farm. All help to increase yields and buffer against climate change.

To read more and download the wild farm alliance’s biodiversity contiuum,

click: WFA_Biodiversity_Continuum_Final


biodiversity conference, harvard, april 30th

posted April 26, 2016

Coralhome

Announcing the following conference at Harvard on April 30th:

THE POWER AND PROMISE OF BIODIVERSITY: VISIONS OF RESTORING SEA, LAND, AND CLIMATE
Geological Lecture Hall
24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

The conference promises to “present the concepts, history, and processes for the restoration of biodiversity” in hopes that increasing global biodiversity can sequester carbon and not only stop, but actually reverse climate change. Tickets are $30 and you can register now on eventbrite. More information here!


research highlight: removing non-crop habitat does not increase food safety

posted August 19, 2015

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Schematic of farm environment using co-management approach for food safety and environment.

In 2006, a deadly Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak in bagged spinach was traced to California’s Central Coast region, where >70% of the salad vegetables sold in the United States are produced. Although no definitive cause for the outbreak could be determined, wildlife was implicated as a disease vector. Growers were subsequently pressured to minimize the intrusion of wildlife onto their farm fields by removing surrounding non-crop vegetation. How vegetation removal actually affects foodborne pathogens was unknown. Researchers at UC Berkeley (including Daniel Karp and Claire Kremen of BFI‘s Center for Diversified Farming Systems), UC Davis, the Nature Conservancy, and the Natural Capital Project found that removal of non-crop vegetation did not in fact reduce incidences of enterohemorrhagic E. coli(EHEC). The study actually found a slight but significant increase in pathogen prevalence where non-crop vegetation had been removed, calling into question reforms that promote vegetation removal to improve food safety.

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northern NY research evaluates non-traditional crops for high tunnel growers

posted August 19, 2015

tunnel

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has funded a number of projects evaluating ways to extend the growing season and crop options for high tunnel farmers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties; photo: Michael Davis, Willsboro Agricultural Research Farm.

Can cucumbers, basil, ginger, green beans and zucchini be more profitable crops for farmers than tomatoes, the king of high tunnel produce? The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has released the results of a project evaluating the economic potential of the non-traditional tunnel crops.

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