Posts Tagged ‘science’

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Random Notes on Climate Change in 2013

namgnld_season22013 was another watershed year in climate change news. The reality of life on a warmer planet was seen in a variety of ways. The reality of the inability of U.S. and international efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels was also stark as use continues to rise. Here are some new data points about life on a warming planet.

The year’s biggest news was made last summer when scientists at a Hawaii research station measured 400 ppm (parts per million) of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has famously called the 350 ppm carbon mark the safe zone for avoiding the worst of climate change impacts. Some terrific charts in The Guardian (probably the best news site for tracking climate issues) provides important context to carbon loading to the earth’s atmosphere. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

DEC Seeks Help With Wild Turkey Research

QF Turkey cropOver the past 10 years wild turkey populations have declined in many parts of New York State. In an effort to better understand the factors influencing population changes and how these changes affect turkey management, DEC is beginning the second year of a four-year study. This project is expected to provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest and survival rates for female wild turkeys, or hens, in New York and guide future management efforts.

Beginning in January, DEC will embark on a statewide effort to capture wild turkey hens and fit them with leg bands to obtain accurate data on survival and harvest. A small number of these birds will also be tagged with satellite radio-transmitters. All of the work will be done by DEC personnel on both public and private lands from January through March. The research will be concentrated in DEC Regions 3 through 9 where turkey populations are largest. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Brian Houseal To Lead Adirondack Ecological Center

Brian-Houseal-208x300Brian Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council from 2002 to 2012, has been named Director of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb.

The appointment was announced Friday in an e-mail by Bruce C. Bongarten, SUNY-ESF’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Houseal’s appointment is expected to begin on January 2, 2014. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Warm-Blooded Animals Stay Warm

geese on iceMy favorite season tends to be whatever comes next, which means, for now, deep winter. With our storm windows installed and four tons of wood pellets put up, I’m feeling smug as the ant in Aesop’s fable. But what about the furred and feathered creatures out there in the cold?

When I imagine a Canada goose on an icy pond, or a white tail knee deep in the white stuff, it makes me shiver and wonder: How do warm-blooded animals stay warm? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The 114th Christmas Bird Count: A Holiday Tradition

cbcpressroom_tuftedtitmouse-judyhowleThe year was 1900. The National Audubon Society did not yet exist and wildlife management was in its infancy. Through the century just ending, many people in this country participated in a holiday tradition known as a “side hunt.” Groups would gather, choose “sides,” and then compete to see which side could shoot the most birds (and other animals) in a day.

But some citizens were then becoming concerned about declining bird numbers. That year, American ornithologist Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore magazine and later a leader in the emerging Audubon Society, proposed a new form of hunt in which participants would count birds instead of killing them. He called it a Christmas bird-census.  Chapman urged readers to help by “spending a portion of Christmas Day with the birds” and then submit to Bird-Lore a report of their count “before they retire that night.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Roadside Wildlife Survey Volunteers Sought

wildlife.map_The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program announced a call for volunteers to help survey roadsides in the Black River Valley this winter as part of the WildPaths citizen science project.

With the help of local citizen scientists using snow-tracking to gather data, WildPaths is expected to provide important information about where wildlife are crossing roads in several towns in the Black River Valley. The results are hoped to help guide conservation actions to maintain and enhance habitat connectivity between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill region. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Deer Rutting Season in the Adirondacks

white_tailed_deer1According to most sportsmen, the second week of November in the Adirondacks is the best time for deer hunting, as this is the peak of the rutting, or breeding season in our region.

Driven by a surge of hormones, the bucks, especially the largest and oldest males with their impressive rack of antlers, are now continuously on the move as they attempt to locate females nearing their estrous, or heat period. Rather than spend time resting or sleeping, bucks are on the go day and night in the days prior to, and immediately after, Veteran’s Day, as these individuals experience an innate urge to focus all their time and energy into spreading their genetic composition into the deer herd of that area. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Adirondacks Rapid Response: An Invasives Success Story

Early-detection-invasives (Photo Brendan Quirion-TNC)Many invasive species stories follow a similar narrative. When the non-native species first shows up, people either don’t notice it, or they don’t take the threat seriously. Suddenly, the invader explodes across the landscape, and conservationists spring into action. but so often, it’s too late.

That’s why invasive species success stories are so few and far between.

The Adirondacks is different. Here, over a huge landscape, the Conservancy and partners have excelled at a coordinated approach that’s making a difference: early detection and rapid response. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Ed Kanze: A Ball, A Gall, And A Fly

ed_kanze_ball_gallIf you’re observant, you’ve noticed them in fall and winter: peculiar lumps that bulge from the stems of certain goldenrods. If you go ice-fishing, you may slice open the lumps and pluck out the grubs inside for bait.

These peculiar structures are called ball galls. Listen here to learn who makes them, and why, in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Strangle-Vine: Invasive Swallow-Wort

swallow-wort1The invasive plant sometimes called dog-strangling vine doesn’t harm pets, but it lives up to its name as a strangler, choking out native wildflowers as well as Christmas tree plantations and fields of prime alfalfa. In Northern New York, in Jefferson County, a nearly 1,000-acre tract on an island lies blanketed under this perennial Eurasian vine.

Dog-strangling vine grows in almost any soil type, has a prodigious root system, and is particularly good at making and dispersing seeds. It is so toxic that no North American bird, mammal or insect will eat it, and it bounces back from the most powerful herbicides. No wonder biologists and agronomists have been losing sleep over it. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Surveying Adirondack Lakes for Aquatic Invaders

rake tossOver the last decade, I have monitored many lakes in Hamilton County for aquatic invasive plants.  I feel a sense of stewardship to these lakes because paddling, camping, swimming, fishing, and skiing are important aspects to my lifestyle that allow me to distress, reconnect, and stay healthy.  Invasive plant infestations can crowd out native aquatic plants that fish rely on for food and shelter; make boating and paddling unenjoyable; and be costly to manage. I survey lakes because I find it enjoyable and my efforts protect water quality.

This year my co-worker Lenny and I checked Spy Lake for invaders on two glorious September afternoons.  We were on the lookout for plants like Eurasian watermilfoil, water chestnut, fanwort, and curlyleaf pondweed.  The inventory was in accordance with the survey instructions of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program’s Aquatic Invasive Species Project. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Celebrate Loons at the Paul Smith’s VIC

There is something quite mystical about hearing a loon. Whether it’s the haunting wail that echoes across lakes or the territorial male yodel, the loon’s calls can silence everyone around it as people search for the source of the sound.

I was recently paddling a nearby Adirondack pond and was followed by a common loon.  It gave that shrill laughing sound called tremolo that is used to signal alarm. I can only assume that we were too close to its chicks. It seemed that no matter where we went, it didn’t want to share the waterway with us. We finally just sat and drifted and the loon dove underwater, reappearing on a far shore.

There are many things to understand about the loon and the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) have joined forces for a full day of loon related activities to educate and inform all of us about this iconic bird. This free event will be held from 9 am – 5 pm on Sunday, October 13 at the VIC. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Adirondack Forests: Explaining Fall Color Change

DSCN4905As a very young lad I was told that the summer sun bleached pigment from clothes hung on the line, and saved up the colors to paint on autumn leaves. It occurs to me that solar dryers (a.k.a. laundry lines) and fall leaf colors are similar in that they operate free of charge, but their performance depends on the weather. The same clear-sky conditions that produce dry, good-smelling (and a teensy bit faded) laundry also make for the best leaf color. While the former process is well-understood, the latter is a story fraught with murder and intrigue, and requires some explanation.

Chlorophyll, the green molecule at the center of the photosynthesis miracle, is what makes the world go ‘round. Some say money is, but without chlorophyll the sole life on Earth would be bacteria, whereas without money we’d only have to barter. (Given that both items are green, it’s easy to understand the mistake.) Green gives way to fall colors, though, when trees start killing their own chlorophyll, revealing yellow xanthophylls and orange carotenenoids that were in the leaves all along.

How could a tree be so heartless as to slay its chlorophyll? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Amy Ivy On The Fall Foliage Season

GFP_2053autumnbyway725The northeastern United States is one of the few locations in the world that develops intense fall color (along with northern areas of China, Korea and Japan) and our region is just hitting its stride.

With all the variations in colors and tree species, it can be difficult to determine when an area is truly at peak color. I’d encourage you to enjoy all the transitions as they occur and look for the spots of color and beauty throughout the fall months around the region.

There are many factors that influence fall color.  The yellow and orange pigments are always present in the leaves; they are just masked by the green chlorophyll until fall.  As the leaves begin to get ready to drop the green fades away, revealing the yellows and oranges.  » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 27, 2013

VIDEO: Researchers Study Adirondack Earthworms

ed_kanze_wormWorms, WORMS, WORMS! Sad but true—those lowly, wriggling saints of the natural world, hailed as creators and saviors of the soil since the days of Charles Darwin, are now known to represent an Evil Empire.

Well, maybe not evil. But it turns out that most North American earthworms were introduced from other continents, and the new arrivals, while doing some good in gardens, actually disrupt the ecology of forests, diminish the rich fabric of life in the soil, and even contribute to global warming. » Continue Reading.



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