Fire ecology manipulation by California native cultures

Before the colonial era, 100,000s of people lived on the land now called California, and many of their cultures manipulated fire to control the availability of plants they used for food, fuel, tools, and ritual. Contemporary tribes continue to use fire to maintain desired habitat and natural resources.Frank Lake, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Station, will lead a field trip to the Stone Lake National Wildlife Refuge during the Ecological Society of America’s 99th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, Cal., this August. Visitors will learn about plant and animal species of cultural importance to local tribes. Don Hankins, a faculty associate at California State University at Chico and a member of the Miwok people, will co-lead the trip, which will end with a visit to California State Indian Museum.Lake will also host a special session on a “sense of place,” sponsored by the Traditional Ecological Knowledge section of the Ecological Society, that will bring representatives of local tribes into the Annual Meeting to share their cultural and professional experiences working on tribal natural resources issues.”The fascinating thing about the Sacramento Valley and the Miwok lands where we are taking the field trip is that it was a fire and flood system,” said Lake. “To maintain the blue and valley oak, you need an anthropogenic fire system.”Lake, raised among the Yurok and Karuk tribes in the Klamath River area of northernmost California, began his career with an interest in fisheries, but soon realized he would need to understand fire to restore salmon. Fire exerts a powerful effect on ecosystems, including the quality and quantity of water available in watersheds, in part by reducing the density of vegetation.”Those trees that have grown up since fire suppression are like straws sucking up the groundwater,” Lake said.The convergence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers was historically one of the largest salmon bearing runs on the West Coast, Lake said, and the Miwok, Patwin and Yokut tribal peoples who lived in the area saw and understood how fire was involved.California native cultures burned patches of forest in deliberate sequence to diversify the resources available within their region. The first year after a fire brought sprouts for forage and basketry. In 3 to 5 years, shrubs produced a wealth of berries. Mature trees remained for the acorn harvest, but burning also made way for the next generation of trees, to ensure a consistent future crop. …

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This week guests staying, chemo tomorrow ….

This week has flown! A visit last Tuesday to the hospital for my Picc line to be dressed and bloods taken. No chemo that week was scheduled and just as well – my bloods were still quite low from the week before. Tomorrow picc line to be dressed, bloods taken, appt with my oncologist and the green light for chemo to go ahead gemcidibine and carboplatin.We have had friends staying for 5 nights from the Gold Coast, Queensland – it was great to be normal for a few days and concentrate on other things instead of chemotherapy/treatments. I held a dinner party the first night as it was Margit’s birthday. Spinach and ricotta cannelloni followed by a pear/walnut upside down cake. I was quite exhausted the next …

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Evolution is not a one-way road towards complexity

Oct. 18, 2013 — There are still a lot of unanswered questions about mollusks, e.g. snails, slugs and mussels. The research group of Andreas Wanninger, Head of the Department of Integrative Zoology of the University of Vienna, took a detailed look at the development of cryptic worms. The larvae of the “wirenia argentea” hold a much more complex muscular architecture than their adults — they remodel during their metamorphosis. That’s a clue that the ancestors had a highly complex muscular bodyplan. Their findings are published in the current issue of the scientific journal Current Biology.With over 200,000 species described, the Mollusca — soft-bodies animals that, among others, include snails, slugs, mussels, and cephalopods — constitutes one of the most species-rich animal phyla. What makes them particularly interesting for evolutionary studies, however, is not the sheer number of their representatives, but rather their vast variety of body morphologies they exhibit. Ever since they have been unambiguously assigned to the phylum, a group of worm-like, shell-less mollusks whose body is entirely covered by spicules — the Aplacophora (“non-shell-bearers,” usually small animals in the mm-range that inhabit the seafloors from a few meters to abyssal depths) has been hotly debated as being the group of today’s living mollusks that most closely resembles the last common ancestor to all mollusks.However, new studies on the development of a typical aplacophoran (Wirenia argentea, a species that was collected in 200 m depth off the coast of Bergen, Norway) tell a different story. Although their adult, worm-like body appears rather simple (hence the traditional assumption that they may constitute a basal molluscan group), their small, 0.1 to 0.3mm long larvae undergo a stage in which they show an extremely complex muscular architecture which is largely lost and remodeled during metamorphosis to become the simple muscular arrangement of the adult animal. …

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12 days in beautiful sunny and warm Queensland, Australia

We have only recently returned from 12 days in south east Queensland catching up with family, friends and was so pleased to be able to meet up with some of our mesothelioma family while on the Gold Coast.The first evening we attended a birthday dinner for Keith’s brother – Ross who turned the big 60. A great night spent with family and friends. The next night he held a party and we caught up with grandkids and son Elton. So very proud of him, he has just moved back to Queensland/Brisbane where he is working in a profession that he loves and is so good at too – Building Design.Friday morning I caught the bus to Pacific Fair shoppingtown and met Kim and her beautiful mum Margaret. They …

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Veterans With Mesothelioma

United States veterans have sacrificed a great deal so that the citizens of our country could continue to have the quality of life we often take for granted. The collective heroism, bravery, risk and sacrifice of this group are extraordinary. Sadly, it is this group that are also most affected by mesothelioma. That’s because for many years, the U.S. Military used asbestos widely in many applications. Likely as a result of this high level of exposure, veterans make up roughly 30% of all mesothelioma patients.From the 1930′s to the 1970′s, the U. S. Military used over 300 products containing asbestos, some of them mandated for use because of their fire-retardant properties. In the Air Force, these mesothelioma-linked materials were used with brakes, heat shields, …

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The fish and the egg: Towards a new strategy for fattening up red drum in Texas

Sep. 23, 2013 — It’s not the chicken or the egg, but marine scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have answered a basic question about red drum fish and their eggs that may eventually help save the state of Texas a lot of money in hatcheries management and make fish farming more environmentally friendly.Every year the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department spends millions of dollars breeding red drum, a popular game fish, releasing between 20 and 30 million hatchery-raised fingerlings into eight different bays and estuaries along the coast. In order to maximize the numbers that survive to adulthood, the practice has been to provide adult fish a diet rich in fatty acids for nine months before breeding season. During breeding season, in order to save money and resources, the diet is less rich.”The assumption was that over those nine months the fish would accumulate stores of fatty acids in their bodies and would then transfer them to the eggs, which would produce more vigorous spawn,” said Lee Fuiman, Perry R. Bass Chair in Fisheries and Mariculture in the College of Natural Sciences. “Then you can cut back during breeding season because it doesn’t matter at that point. The problem was that we didn’t have solid experimental evidence to show that that was true.”Fuiman, who consults with Parks & Wildlife on their aquaculture programs, said that fish tend to fall into two categories in how they transfer resources to their eggs. “Capital” breeders accumulate and store most of the nutrients they’ll transfer to their eggs over a long period. For “income” breeders it’s food they’re eating just before and during the time they’re spawning that is responsible for most of the eggs’ nutrient content.In order to assess where the red drum falls on this spectrum, Fuiman and Cynthia Faulk, his colleague at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, ran experiments in which they varied the content of one particular fatty acid in the diets of red drum while they were in the midst of spawning. Then they tested the levels of that fatty acid in the eggs that were spawned during the next few weeks.”We know from past research that this is one of the essential fatty acids which is important to the eventual ability of the young to escape predators,” said Fuiman. …

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Boating Accident Statistics

There is arguably nothing more relaxing than spending an enjoyable sunny day aboard a boat. Whether it is in the ocean, on a river, or on a lake, recreational boating is a pastime enjoyed by millions of people in the U.S. each year.Unfortunately, the enjoyment of boating can suddenly be disrupted by unpredictable factors, such as severe weather or strong currents, both of which can compromise the safety of those aboard a boat. Other factors can also impact safety, including operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and machinery failure. In fact, those factors represent the top five primary contributing factors in boating accidents, according to statistics from the United States Coast Guard.In 2011, the Coast Guard recorded 4,588 recreational boating accidents, the majority of which occurred to motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats. These accidents resulted in 3,081 injuries and 758 deaths. The corresponding fatality rate was 6.2 deaths for every 100,000 registered recreational vessels, which represented a nearly 15% increase over the 2010 rate (5.4 deaths per 100,000).Among fatal boating accidents, alcohol was the leading contributing factor as well as the leading factor in 16% of all fatalities. Drowning was responsible for 70% of all boating fatalities in 2011, and 84% of those deaths were to individuals who were not wearing life jackets. Furthermore, only 7% of all fatalities occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from an instructor approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.In addition to recreational boating, maritime accidents can also occur to commercial and government marine vessels. Collisions can occur between large cargo ships, tankers, barges, and recreational vessels. …

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Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change

Sep. 12, 2013 — Scientists expect climate change and warmer oceans to push the fish that people rely on for food and income into new territory. Predictions of where and when species will relocate, however, are based on broad expectations about how animals will move and have often not played out in nature. New research based at Princeton University shows that the trick to more precise forecasts is to follow local temperature changes.The researchers report in the journal Science the first evidence that sea creatures consistently keep pace with “climate velocity,” or the speed and direction in which changes such as ocean temperature move. They compiled 43 years of data related to the movement of 128 million animals from 360 species living around North America, including commercial staples such as lobster, shrimp and cod. They found that 70 percent of shifts in animals’ depth and 74 percent of changes in latitude correlated with regional-scale fluctuations in ocean temperature.”If we follow the temperature, which is easier to predict, that provides a method to predict where the species will be, too,” said first author Malin Pinsky, a former Princeton postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology who is now an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at Rutgers University.”Climate changes at different rates and in different directions in different places,” he said. “Animals are basically being exposed to different changes in temperature.”The researchers compiled survey data collected from 1968 to 2011 by American and Canadian fishery-research centers and government panels. The surveys recorded surface and bottom temperatures, as well as the complete mass of animals in nine areas central to North American fisheries: the Aleutian Islands; the eastern Bering Sea; the Gulf of Alaska; the West Coast from Washington to California; the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Mexico; the Northeast coast from North Carolina to Maine; the coast of Nova Scotia; the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence; and the Atlantic Ocean east of Newfoundland.Details of the surveys revealed that sea creatures adhere to a “complex mosaic of local climate velocities,” the researchers reported. On average, changes in temperature for North America moved north a mere 4.5 miles per decade, but in parts of Newfoundland that pace was a speedier 38 miles north per decade. …

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Young or old, song sparrows experience climate change differently from each other

Aug. 12, 2013 — What’s good for adults is not always best for the young, and vice versa. At least that is the case with song sparrows and how they experience the effects of climate change, according to two recent studies by scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Point Blue Conservation Science.Both studies show the importance of considering the various stages and ages of individuals in a species — from babies to juveniles to adults — to best predict not only how climate change could affect a species as a whole, but also why.”To learn how climate change is expected to affect an individual population, you have to look at demography,” said lead author Kristen Dybala, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. “If you don’t break it down by these different stages, you get a different understanding that may be misleading, or worse, that’s just wrong.”For example, in the study published in print today in the journal Global Change Biology, climate change had opposite projected effects for adult and juvenile song sparrows in central coastal California. The researchers found, not surprisingly, that adult survival was sensitive to cold winter weather.”Even though we rarely see freezing temperatures on the coast of California, it was clear that an adult bird’s chances of survival were lowest in the coldest winters,” said co-author Tom Gardali, Pacific Coast and Central Valley Group director of Point Blue Conservation Science.They expected a similar response from the young. However, warmer, drier winters translated to less food for the juvenile sparrows during the following summer.”Before they can get to winter, the juveniles have to survive their first summer, when they’re sensitive to how much food is available,” said Dybala. “So as winters get warmer, we expect adults and juveniles to respond in opposite directions.”In another recent study of song sparrows published in the journal Ecology, lead author Dybala found that parents provided a buffer against the weather for baby sparrows still dependent on them for food. However, independent juveniles that were newly out on their own were more sensitive to changes in the weather because they lacked the skills and experience of their parents.While that vulnerability has existed for as long as offspring have been leaving the nest, climate change is expected to exacerbate those already uncertain conditions, Dybala said. This sort of variation in juvenile survival can significantly impact a species’ population growth.Both studies were conducted at Point Blue’s Palomarin Field Station in the Point Reyes National Seashore in California. While song sparrows are found throughout North America, the local population is nonmigratory, and Point Blue (formerly PRBO Conservation Science) biologists have collected survivorship data on them for 34 years. …

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Polar ecosystems acutely vulnerable to sunlight-driven tipping points

July 31, 2013 — Slight changes in the timing of the annual loss of sea-ice in polar regions could have dire consequences for polar ecosystems, by allowing a lot more sunlight to reach the sea floor.The research by scientists at UNSW and the Australian Antarctic Division predicts that biodiversity on some areas of the polar seabed could be reduced by as much as one third within decades, as the poles warm.The study, Light-driven tipping points in polar ecosystems, will be published in the journal Global Change Biology.Dr Graeme Clark, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, says the team’s research shows that polar ecosystems may be even more sensitive to climate change than previously thought.”Even a slight shift in the date of the annual sea-ice departure could cause a tipping point, leading to widespread ecosystem shifts. On the Antarctic coast this may cause unique, invertebrate-dominated communities that are adapted to the dark conditions to be replaced by algal beds, which thrive on light, significantly reducing biodiversity,” Dr Clark says.The invertebrates lost could include sponges, moss animals, sea squirts and worms. These animals perform important functions such as filtering of water and recycling of nutrients and provide a food source for fish and other creatures.”This is a prime example of the large-scale ecological impacts that humans can impose through global warming — even in places as remote as Antarctica,” says UNSW team member, Associate Professor Emma Johnston.”Our modelling shows that recent changes in ice and snow cover at the poles have already transformed the amount of light reaching large areas of the Arctic and Antarctic annually.”For the study, the team deployed light meters on the sea floor at seven sites near Casey Station in Antarctica, at depths of up to 10 metres. They used cameras to photograph the coast at midday every day for two and a half years, to determine sea-ice cover.They determined the growth rates of Antarctic algae in the lab in different light conditions, and conducted experiments in Antarctic waters to test the sensitivity of algae to available light. They also surveyed species living on sub-tidal boulders, to see how communities varied with ice cover.Tipping points are events where small changes in environmental conditions cause rapid and extensive ecological change.The amount of sunlight reaching the poles is highly dependent on the seasons because Earth’s tilt causes the sun to be above the horizon for considerably longer during summer than winter, and the lower solar angle during winter increases reflectance from the water surface.”Early melt that brings the date of sea-ice loss closer to midsummer will cause an exponential increase in the amount of sunlight reaching some areas per year,” says Dr Clark.

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‘Organic’ milk is poorer in iodine than conventional milk

July 4, 2013 — Milk from organic farms has a lower concentration of elements like zinc, iodine and selenium than milk produced by conventional farming methods. The discrepancy is due to the absence of mineral substances in the diets of the cows reared. According to researchers, animals on organic farms should have their diets supplemented with natural sources of iodine such as seaweed, because it is a very important element for children and pregnant women.The concentration of nutrients in animal food products is linked to the diets of the animals reared. Conventional production methods provide mineral diet supplements, while in organic farming animals depend on the mineral content in soil, which may not be sufficient.For this reason, researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela compared the mineral and toxic elements of organic and conventional milk taken from over thirty farms located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula.The results demonstrated that mineral element content in organic milk is low compared with conventional milk, although no differences were found in the quantity of toxic compounds such as cadmium, which were also detected in very low concentrations.”Levels of the elements that are typically supplemented in the diets of livestock in conventional systems — particularly iodine, copper, selenium and zinc — are higher than those found in organic milk,” Marta López, researcher at the University of Santiago de Compostela and co-author of the study, explains.In the researcher’s opinion, the fact that organic milk contains lower levels of elements such as copper and zinc is not a problem because milk is not the primary source of these elements in our diets.”Iodine is another matter,” López goes on to clarify. “The contribution of iodine to our diets in countries like Spain is covered by iodised salt; in other countries, like England, with milk. In Spain the lack of sufficient iodine in some kinds of milk is especially relevant for children, due to the importance of iodine in neurological development, but also to people with diets low in salt.”Iodine is necessary for the metabolism, especially during pregnancy and infancy. Iodine deficiency can cause scurvy, which has historically been a big problem the world over, particularly in populations at a distance from the coast, who did not eat much fish, and so milk and its derivatives were the primary source of iodine.Seaweed as an alternative sourceNevertheless, according to López, the most relevant aspect of the study is that it brings this limitation to light and enables organic production to be improved. “There are natural sources of iodine that can be incorporated into the diet. We are trialling the use of seaweed as a source of iodine and have had good results,” she affirms.In addition, the scientists found that mineral content is higher in winter, which is when dietary supplementation is greater, as a result of the reduced availability of grass.In any case, although one might draw the conclusion that conventional milk is more nutritious in terms of minerals, López is cautious: “Organic milk may have lower content of certain minerals, but it has other properties that are much more beneficial than those of conventional milk.”

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Sea level along Maryland’s shorelines could rise two feet by 2050

June 26, 2013 — A new report on sea level rise recommends that the State of Maryland should plan for a rise in sea level of as much as 2 feet by 2050. Led by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the report was prepared by a panel of scientific experts in response to Governor Martin O’Malley’s Executive Order on Climate Change and “Coast Smart” Construction. The projections are based on an assessment of the latest climate change science and federal guidelines.”The State of Maryland is committed to taking the necessary actions to adapt to the rising sea and guard against the impacts of extreme storms,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “In doing so, we must stay abreast of the latest climate science to ensure that we have a sound understanding of our vulnerability and are making informed decisions about how best to protect our land, infrastructure, and most importantly, the citizens of Maryland.”The independent, scientific report recommends that is it is prudent to plan for sea level to be 2.1 feet higher in 2050 along Maryland’s shorelines than it was in 2000 in order to accommodate the high end of the range of the panel’s projections. Maryland has 3,100 miles of tidal shoreline and low-lying rural and urban lands that will be impacted. The experts’ best estimate for the amount of sea-level rise in 2050 is 1.4 feet. It is unlikely to be less than 0.9 feet or greater than 2.1 feet. Their best estimate for sea level rise by 2100 is 3.7 feet. They concluded that it is unlikely to be less than 2.1 feet or more than 5.7 feet based on current scientific understanding.”This reassessment narrows the probable range of sea level rise based on the latest science,” said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and chair of the group of experts that assembled the report. “It provides the State with sea level rise projections based on best scientific understanding to ensure that infrastructure is sited and designed in a manner that will avoid or minimize future loss or damage.”These estimates were made based on the various contributors to sea level rise: thermal expansion of ocean volume as a result of warming, the melting of glaciers and Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, changing ocean dynamics such as the slowing of the Gulf Stream, and vertical land movement.”While there is little we can do now to reduce the amount of sea-level rise by the middle of the century, steps taken over the next 30 years to control greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize global temperatures will largely determine how great the sea level rise challenge will be for coastal residents at the end of this century and beyond,” said Dr. …

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The jewels of the ocean: Two new species and a new genus of octocorals from the Pacific

June 3, 2013 — The flora and fauna of the American west coast is generally believed to be well explored and studied. However, a new study and a taxonomic assessment of the octocorals from the north eastern Pacific Ocean proves such assumptions wrong, with two new beautiful and colourful species of soft corals alongside a new genus.Share This:The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.”It is remarkable that in a region previously thought to be as familiar and well known as the west coast of North America — with its numerous large urban centers and major marine laboratories — revisionary systematics are not only still possible, but essential for our understanding of global biodiversity,” comments the author of the study Dr Williams, California Academy of Sciences.The paper describes four aspects of the North American west coast fauna, such as a new species of pale orange stoloniferous soft coral from San Diego, California. Also included is a revisionary assessment of a well-known soft coral previously misidentified as Gersemia rubiformis from the Pacific Northwest. Another new species of the soft coral Gersemia from the coast of British Columbia, Canada has been also described. This new species is found in colonies with beautiful pink to reddish coloration in life.The study also defines a new genus named for a species previously placed in a tropical Indo-Pacific genus for the past century. The species for which the genus was erected inhabits the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary near San Francisco, California, as well as several other localities on the Pacific Coast. The remarkable diversity of octocorals accounts for around 3400 species described worldwide. Although the majority of octocoral taxa was described in the 19th and early 20th centuries, much of this colourful marine fauna is in fact only minimally studied and continues to surprise with new discoveries nowadays.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …

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