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Environmental Conservation

Little research is available regarding energy use and sourcing decisions among lower-income households, particularly with respect to the efficacy of various behavioral interventions (e.g., providing social norms information; financial vs. social incentives). There is a similar lack of research that examines the barriers to and facilitators of lower-income households adopting small-scale renewable energy technologies (e.g., rooftop solar).

To increase resistance and resiliency to climate change, forest management practices will need to change to ensure species and structural diversity, and adjust to emerging threats, such as invasive species, pests and diseases.  As a result of this need, there has been a flurry of development of science-based products and tools to incorporate the additional complexity of climate change and inform decisions about forest management and conservation.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and extent of future flood events in New England. Such events pose a substantial threat to both human and natural systems. Not only do the direct effects of extreme flooding harm human and ecosystems, but human responses in the lead up to and the aftermath of these events (such as forest and debris removal, channel alteration and armoring, and gravel mining) also create substantial disturbances. The effect of these human responses may be to alleviate or to exacerbate ecological damage and consequently the impacts of future flood events.

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.

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