Some 250 high school students from across the state will gather at the Quabbin Reservoir Thursday, May 14, to participate in a unique competition that will test their environmental knowledge, field work, problem-solving abilities and communication skills, as they take part in the 28th annual Massachusetts Envirothon. (Hampshire Gazette 5/13/15)
News from the Media
The predawn rumble of pesticide-spraying trucks is a rite of spring in almost 200 Massachusetts communities. Some $11 million is spent in the state each year controlling and counting the pests and educating residents about how to avoid contracting mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus.
Yet no state funds are dedicated to tick-borne diseases, one of which, Lyme, infects at least 5,500 residents a year in Massachusetts and likely many more. (NECN 5/11/15)
AMHERST, Mass. – In the first-of-its-kind study of the environmental effects of hydropeaking, that is releasing water at hydropower dams to meet peak daily electricity demand, two University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers say their unexpected findings suggest that about 10 percent of released water may be permanently lost, making that water unavailable to downstream users and wildlife. Hydrogeologist Brian Yellen says, “The most interesting thing we found is something we weren’t looking for. That is, in this 13-mile stretch of the river, about 10 percent of water released from the dam every day gets pushed into the aquifer and is lost permanently.” (3/31/15 UMass Press Release)
Forget the No. 2 pencil, UMass students took this final exam with a spoon -- mouthful after mouthful of delicious ice cream. Welcome to the University of Massachusetts Amherst's "scooperbowl", where teams of food sciences majors, mostly seniors set to graduate in a few weeks, submit the flavors they have developed all semester as part of assistant professor Sam Nugen's food science class to a panel of experts and to an assembled throng of hungry students. (April 30, 2015, MassLive)
A new, detailed report on the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline route through western Massachusetts points to its impact on protected open space dedicated to agriculture and conservation, and especially on Franklin County’s primary habitat for rare species habitat, wetlands wildlife habitat and communities of biodiversity. (4/22/15 The Recorder; 5/13/15 Hampshire Gazette)
Northampton, MA--Spring has sprung, baseball season’s first pitch has been thrown, April’s rains have been falling, and the ticks are back. Even if you can’t see them. Just ask Michael Noonan of Florence. On a Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, Noonan, 62, noticed a red spot the size of a half dollar on the inside of his elbow, with a small dot in the center. The dot was a deer tick. His wife removed it with a pair of tweezers.
“It looked like a little piece of wood,” Noonan said, “except it was moving.” His arm had been hurting all week — since cleaning up leaves in his driveway on Sunday — but Noonan figured he had a spider bite and didn’t think much of it until his wife did some online research. (4/27/15 Hampshire Gazette)
SPRINGFIELD, Mass — Every day pedestrians, drivers and bike and bus riders cruise through downtown Springfield often overlooking abandoned buildings or small side streets, each with a story to tell.
Students from the University of Massachusetts Graduate Urban Design Studio have staged six installations throughout downtown Springfield all using tactical urbanism, an emergent form of urban design that looks at new ways to enliven cities with temporary interventions that are inexpensive and easy to install, according to Frank Sleegers and Michael Di Pasquale, urban design professors at University of Massachusetts Amherst. (The Reminder, MassLive 4/23/15)
AMHERST, Mass. – David Julian McClements, professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an internationally recognized expert in the encapsulation and delivery of bioactive components, recently was honored with the Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) Babcock-Hart Award for contributions to food technology that result in improved public health through nutrition. (4/16/2015 News Office Release)
Breast milk seems like a simple nutritious cocktail for feeding babies, but it is so much more than that. It also contains nutrients that feed the beneficial bacteria in a baby’s gut, and it contains substances that can change a baby’s behaviour. So, when a mother breastfeeds her child, she isn’t just feeding it. She is also building a world inside it and simultaneously manipulating it.
To Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who specialises in milk, these acts are all connected. She suspects that substances in milk, by shaping the community of microbes in a baby’s gut, can affect its behaviour in ways that ultimately benefit the mother. It’s a thought-provoking and thus far untested hypothesis, but it’s not far-fetched. Together with graduate student Cary Allen-Blevins and David Sela, a food scientist at the University of Massachussetts, Hinde has laid out her ideas in a paper that fuses neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and microbiology. (National Geographic 4/8/15)
AMHERST, Mass. – For more than 50 years, scientists had tantalizing clues suggesting that a tiny, boreal forest songbird known as the blackpoll warbler departs each fall from New England and eastern Canada to migrate nonstop in a direct line over the Atlantic Ocean toward South America, but proof was hard to come by.
Now, for the first time an international team of biologists report “irrefutable evidence” that the birds complete a nonstop flight ranging from about 1,410 to 1,721 miles (2,270 to 2,770 km) in just two to three days, making landfall somewhere in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the islands known as the Greater Antilles, from there going on to northern Venezuela and Columbia.
First author Bill DeLuca, an environmental conservation research fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with colleagues at the University of Guelph, Ontario, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and other institutions, says, “For small songbirds, we are only just now beginning to understand the migratory routes that connect temperate breeding grounds to tropical wintering areas. (4/14/15 PRI; 4/10/15 Deccan Chronicle; 4/1/15 News Office)