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Environmental Conservation

As Massachusetts faces increasing pressure from population expansion, along with increasing challenges due to climate change, we seek a solution to the growing demand in housing that supports the local timber industry and rural economies and also creates an opportunity to store more carbon both in our buildings and across our regional forested landscape. Recent advances in timber technology have produced promising new methods for meeting some of the demand for building materials, as well as the need to store carbon.

Reliable, sustainable sources of clean water are increasingly hard to come by. But did you know that there are a lot of additional benefits from cultivating and protecting freshwater wetlands at the source of some of these waters? Wetland ecosystem services include, but are not limited to, providing verdant habitat and food supply for a large diversity of plant, animal and insect species, water filtration, slowing and spreading of floodwaters, limiting erosion, storage of carbon and other nutrients, temperature buffering, pollinator habitat and forage lands, and water storage.

The Acid Rain Monitoring Project began at the University of Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center in 1983. The project's mission was initially to develop a comprehensive picture of the sensitivity of Massachusetts surface waters to acid deposition, and later evolved to determine long-term trends in this sensitivity.

Project website.

The project combines intensive field sampling with an advanced statistical model to compile an extensive, statewide regeneration data set and improve understanding of the factors leading to successful regeneration of desired species and communities following management intervention. Our approach allows for novel understanding of the complete range of factors impacting forest regeneration in Massachusetts and tests alternative management approaches to sustain valuable forest resources under global change.

This project utilizes robotic submersible technology to characterize submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) blooms in the Charles River (MA) at the organismal, molecular and atomic levels. Data from this research will be useful in devising methodologies to control SAV contamination in the waterways of Massachusetts and other regions of the Northeast.

Grant Award Year: 2012-2013

 

Hypothetical bias is a major problem in the economic valuation of ecosystem services. Because of this bias, the estimated value of ecosystem services may often be in error. The purpose of this research is to devise and test an improved method for the elimination of hypothetical bias.

Classical biological control provides a sustainable, green method of controlling invasive pests permanently. The number of such pests increases yearly with each new invasion. The separate objectives in this project address a series of such invaders. The intended outcome of each objective (project) is to safely and permanently lower the density of the pest and avoid the damage it causes. Outcomes will be healthier forests and other natural ecosystems and reduced pesticide use in crops.

The purpose of this research is to identify the microbial community constituents of mosquito midgut contents in order to identify new pathogens and functional gut microbes.

High levels of tungsten were recently detected in Massachusetts Military Reservation groundwater. This prompted the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense to declare the metal as an emerging contaminant. This project aims to design and synthesize the renewable biopolymer chitosan into novel nano-constructs that will efficiently remove tungsten from dilute aqueous solutions. Undergraduate students will systematically identify the sorption properties and mechanisms for an assortment of chemically and physically modified chitosans.

The UMass Amherst Blackstone River Water Quality Study was initiated in 2004 to develop a watershed management tool for the Blackstone River basin. This effort was funded by the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District (UBWPAD) and was conducted with the support of the Cambridge, Mass. office of Camp Dresser and McKee (CDM), now CDM-Smith. The study was initiated to enhance the overall understanding of flow and water quality characteristics of the river.

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