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Environmental Conservation

Sustainable design and construction techniques for the United States housing sector are the most economically-effective strategies for preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating future energy security. More than 90-percent of the housing built in the Northeast is constructed from wood harvested from forests in New England. In the United States, 55-percent of timber production goes into the production of buildings.

Wildlife Conservation engages in applied research and provides information, educational materials and programs based on current research to promote wildlife conservation including efforts to better understand the impacts of roads and highways on wildlife and ecosystems and to develop and evaluate techniques for mitigating those impacts.

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.

Results from the proposed new NE multistate project will help us to develop an understanding of how vernal pool ecosystems differ across the region in distribution, hydrology, periods of inundation (hydroperiod), redox chemistry, and carbon storage, flux, and accounting. In addition, we will continue our region-wide focus on hydric soils and hydric indicators to determine if there is a need for additional hydric soil indicators for vernal pool ecosystems.

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.

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