News from the Media
Joseph Elkinton, environmental conservation, comments in several news stories about the discovery of the woolly adelgid in Pennsylvania’s historic old growth hemlock forests. The adelgid is an invasive insect that kills the trees. Elkinton says severe cold snaps kill the insect, but as overall temperatures rise, the adelgids will likely expand their territory.
Daniel Lass, resource economics, talks about a new system being used by a local nursery that helps save soil by wrapping tree root balls in a mixture of compost and bark contained in a knit fabric bag. John Kinchla of Amherst Nurseries, a UMass Amherst alumnus, says this system also prevents some problems created by the standard methods used to move and replant trees.
John T. Spargo, UMass Extension, says a proposed ban on food waste in Massachusetts landfills from commercial sources, including hospitals, is unlikely to pose any health threats since potentially harmful microorganisms would be reduced by composting.
Carrie Sears, UMass Extension, comments in a story about raw milk. She says some people have a negative reaction to consuming it because it isn’t pasteurized and may contain some bacteria.
For hundreds of years, naturalists and scientists have identified new species based on an organism’s visible differences. But now, new genetic techniques are revealing that different species can show little to no visible differences. In a just-published study, evolutionary biologists at UMass Amherst and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) combine traditional morphological tests plus genetic techniques to describe new species. Groups of morphologically similar organisms that show very divergent genetics are generally termed “cryptic species.” Lead authors of an article describing their work with scale insects in the current issue of the journal ZooKeys are AMNH’s Isabelle Vea, Ben Normark of UMass Amherst and Rodger Gwiazdowski, once Normark’s doctoral student and now a postdoctoral research fellow at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Guelph.
Eric Decker, food science, says Omega-3 fats decrease mortality and the odds of sudden cardiac arrest in people who have already suffered a heart attack. He says Omega-3s may lower triglyceride levels by as much as 35 percent and studies show that fish oil consumption can reduce risk of depression and dementia.
Lynn Adler, biology, says the discovery that some plants use caffeine to boost the memory of bees when they drink nectar is exciting news. She also says there are many unknown compounds in nectar that serve some purpose for plants.
Paul Catanzaro, environmental conservation, says maple sugaring is part of the regional tradition and has become popular not just as a way to make money, but also as a way to connect to nature.
Ruth Hazzard, UMass Extension, comments in a story about the many types of small tomatoes that are available at this time of year. She says there are many factors that affect the flavor of the tomatoes, including when they were picked, whether they were vine-ripened and how far they have traveled.
Lyle Craker, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, is interviewed about his more than a decade-long battle with federal authorities to secure permission to grow marijuana so he can study its medicinal effects.