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Environmental Conservation

The proposal team of the Universities of Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Cornell aim to help stabilize the forested land base by working to ensure that a significant proportion of FFO lands are passed from one generation of landowners to the next with minimal amount of forest conversion and parcelization. The research component of this project will use landowner interviews and a mail survey to better understand how FFOs make decisions about the future of their land.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming or climate change. One way to reduce the effect of carbon dioxide acting as a greenhouse gas is to accumulate it in trees and forests. Trees naturally take in carbon dioxide as part of growth, and turn it into wood. Trees and forests act as a sink to collect and hold carbon and as a result are thought of as part of the answer to mitigate increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and increased global warming. Roughly 55% of all forests in the United States are privately owned and 92% of these owners are families.

The efficacy of many government regulations, especially environmental policies, depends largely on the voluntary compliance of subjects. Monitoring of subjects and enforcement of the law acts to induce compliance; however, it is often too costly to employ subjects. Monitoring of subjects and enforcement of the law acts to induce compliance; however, it is often too costly to employ the resources required to induce perfect compliance.

Invasive plants are species introduced from another region (non-native) that have established self-sustaining populations and are spreading, often with substantial negative consequences (Lockwood et al., 2007). Invasive species are a prominent component of global change (Vitousek et al., 1997, 1996), and have been identified as one of five major threats to ecosystems by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (along with, for example, climate change; MA, 2003).

Many bee pollinators are in decline, and exposure to diseases has been implicated as one of the potential causes Novel work in my lab found that consuming sunflower pollen dramatically reduced bumble bee infection by a gut pathogen. These are exciting results, but at this point we have established this effect only in the lab, with a single sunflower variety, one bumble bee species, and one pathogen species.

Wetland identification, protection, and restoration is a multi-million dollar industry in the United States. State, regional, and federal agencies are working to develop and enforce regulations to maintain, enhance, increase, and protect our nation's wetlands. Non-profit organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, and Ducks Unlimited have joined forces to support many of these efforts. In contrast, economic development can be stymied by over-regulation and thus developers argue for a balance between natural resource protection and development.

Researchers will evaluate the potential use of field indicators of hydric soils to characterize wetland hydroperiods with respect to frequency, depth, and duration of water table fluctuations; test the effectiveness of proposed hydric soil indicators to identify 'problem hydric soils'; test monitoring protocols used to identify reducing conditions to determine if they are effective within a range of soil conditions within the Northeast; and investigate the hydraulic properties of hydromorphic soils with episaturation.

Managing conflict between people and black bears is a significant challenge confronting wildlife professionals. In addition, the frequency of conflict is expected to rise as black bear and human populations grow. The challenge is heightened by the species’ large geographic range, acceptance of human disturbance, and propensity to exploit anthropogenic food sources such as garbage cans, bird feeders, apiaries, fruit orchards, and agricultural fields.

Stormwater BMPs have emerged as essential tools in the mitigating impacts on hydrologic functions resulting from urbanization and its associated impervious surfaces. Yet the effectiveness of the BMPs has been understudied in relationship to effective impervious area and land development patterns linking neighborhood and watershed scales. In addition, there is a need to understand the effectiveness of BMPs under various precipitation patterns, particularly extreme storm events based on the IPCC climate change scenarios.

The dendritic nature of freshwater streams presents unique conservation concerns. Linear streams are prone to fragmentation that can reduce or completely prevent animal migration. Understanding the evolutionary consequences of habitat fragmentation is critical for predicting population response and ultimately the likelihood of population persistence. The goal of this project is to gain further understanding of the genetic and evolutionary consequences of stream fragmentation.

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