Climate Change and Land Use Effects on the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

by Kelsey D’Ewart

Climate change has been a pervasive issue when looking at the health and protection of endangered species. However, land- use has also been a significant factor in the decreasing population size of endangered species. Together, climate and land-use change affect habitat, behavioral patterns, phenology, and many other parts of many specie’s lives. This is especially relevant to species that have specific habitats, dietary needs, or both. If these issues are not addressed the risks of endangered species becoming extinct drastically increase. Bancroft et al. (2016) studied the affects of land use and climate change on the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) using a modeling system that allows them to analyze different predicted land-use and climate change scenarios up until the year 2100. This study looks at the RCW population in Fort Benning, which includes specific pine forests vital to the RCW survival. The authors looked at three different potential future conditions: conservation, convenience, and worst-case, to determine what types of major changes might occur in the RCW population over the remainder of the century. Continue reading

Demand For Sustainability Drives Tesla To Faux Leather Seats

by Maya Gutierrez

What has caused Tesla to follow other companies in adopting more environmentally friendly options that can decrease their carbon footprint? Diane Cardwell discusses consumers’ increasing demand for more sustainable and animal-friendly materials and its effects on Tesla’s product offerings. She notes an accelerating trend amongst car manufacturers to appear more environmentally conscientious, something people have not traditionally associated with the auto industry. This can be viewed as a response to broader consumer demand for sustainable practices. Just as veganism and its high profile public endorsement by A-list celebrities has driven the food industry and restaurants to cater to the vegan lifestyle, the auto industry now sees value to incorporating sustainable practices in their product offerings. Well-known car companies have already begun to incorporate plant-based products into their cars, but now prospective buyers of Tesla cars, already known as a luxury car brand that has proven eco-friendly does not mean performance-challenged, are demanding that Tesla take their sustainable practices one step further. Continue reading

Projecting the Frequency of Heat Waves in the 21st Century over the Paris Basin

by Amelia Hamiter

The high mortality of the 2003 heat wave in France, and its particularly severe impact in the Paris basin, has drawn attention to the importance of considering heat wave occurrences of the future. Evaluating heat waves in the Paris region from 1951-2009 and using several climate change and emissions scenarios to model future heat wave possibilities, Lemonsu et al. (2014) predict that the frequency of heat wave occurrences in the target area will increase systematically with time and global warming, and that the durations of these heat waves will grow. Continue reading

Climate Change Adaptation: Lessening the Perceived Risk of Climate Change?

by Brendan Busch

As the future effects of climate change become more certain, it is clear that adaption to new climate conditions will be a necessity. However, will these plans for adaptation dissuade people from trying to prevent climate change? In their article “Does Learning About Climate Change Adaptation Change Support For Mitigation?” Amanda R. Carrico, Heather Barnes Truelove, Michael P. Vandenbergh, and David Dana (researchers and professors at the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of North Florida, Vanderbilt University Law School, and Northwestern University School of Law, respectively) attempt to determine if a focus on adaptation has adverse effects on the public’s support of preventative climate change measures. Through psychological experimentation, this study tests the hypothesis held by some policy makers and scholars that learning about potential adaptation techniques may reduce the public’s perceived risk about climate change, and thus lessen their willingness to fight against it. Continue reading

Climate Change Helps to Prepare Geese for Migration

by Anna Alquitela

Greenland white-fronted geese, Anser albifrons flavirostris, spend their winters in Ireland, stage and refuel in Iceland, and breed in Greenland. Because climate change has advanced the spring thaw in Ireland by about 18 days since 1985, these geese have more food to eat and are departing for and arriving in Iceland earlier than previous years. However, climate change has not caused a significant change in the temperatures of Icelandic staging areas and therefore has not caused a significant change in the departure time from Iceland to Greenland, thus the geese are staying in Iceland for a longer period of time than in previous years and arriving at their breeding grounds around the same time as historically known. Fox et al. (2014) used an abdominal profile index (API) as an indicator of fat stores in geese to determine if the amount of stored fat was the cause of advanced departure to Iceland. The authors also considered trends in temperature as indicators of departure time, but found that, because of the migration distances from Ireland to Iceland and Iceland to Greenland, temperatures are “very poor predictors” for departure times; meaning that the geese would not be able to use the temperature in Ireland to predict the temperature in Iceland nor the temperature in Iceland to predict the temperature in Greenland. Compared to previous studies, Fox et al. found that the Greenland white-fronted geese departed Ireland 33 days earlier in 2012 than they did in 1969 and arrived in Iceland 22 days earlier in 2012 than they did in 1997. The authors also note that the mean API at departure from Ireland in 2012 and 2013 increased significantly from previous years. Continue reading

Who Cares About Climate Change in Wales?

by Phoebe Shum

Getting people to do something about climate change can be a tough feat. Eleri Evans, PhD candidate at Swansea University UK, explores how a community arts program was designed with the hopes of involving more people in taking action against climate change in Wales (Evans 2014). She elaborates on theories of critical realism and how our actions are affected by the way we think. She introduces the theory of internal conversation and explains how people actively converse with themselves to define their values and actions. To demonstrate her point, she focuses on a particular community arts project organized by Awel Aman Tawe (AAT), a community wind farm project in Southern Wales. AAT, founded in 2000, is a renewable energy activist group that has faced both success and hostility from their community. Their aim in developing an arts program was to engage people on a deeper, personal level with climate change and initiate change-oriented intervention. The program features film, drama, poetry, and a project named “Postcards from the Future,” in which people submit original images of what a climate-changed world would look like. Competitions like their bilingual climate change poetry competition received over 700 received entries worldwide. The arts program was successful in providing the community with a platform to bring the community together and initiate change. Continue reading

Effects of Ant- Fruit Interactions Deforestation

by Maithili Joshi

Biodiversity within an ecosystem has mutualistic and symbiotic relationships within that environment. The results of deforestation can be dramatic to these relationships, especially in cases with frugivores. The relationships between frugivores and fallen fruit are what help disperse seeds across the forest floor, which also helps the process of germination. In this study, Bieber et al. (2014) analyzed the mutualistic interactions between ants and fallen fruit in São Paulo State, SE Brazil. The scientists were examining the difference in interactions between disturbed and undisturbed forests. They compared the richness of ants at each fruit, species density per station, frequency of specific ant groups, frequency of fruit and pulp removal, and distance of fruit removal. The study was conducted using four disturbed forests, and four undisturbed forest areas. In these areas, there were thirty sampling stations with synthetic fruit placed 10 m apart from each other to ensure independent discoveries. The fruit were placed on a white sheet of paper within a wire cage to ensure that vertebrates did not access the fruit at each sampling station. Continue reading

Rising Temperatures and the Extirpation of Pika in California

by Kyle Jensen

The American pika, a cousin of rabbits and hares found in the mountains of western North America, may serve as a model organism for examining the effects of global warming on montane species. Pikas tend to live on talus slopes at higher elevations, and as their lower elevation limits are relatively high they may be especially vulnerable to climate change. Having adapted to colder climates pika are susceptible to hyperthermia in the summer, with a lethal upper body temperature occurring at only 3°C above their resting body temperature. During times of high temperature pikas reduce their foraging time to keep their body temperatures low, which also reduces their energy intake. Prolonged periods of high temperature can lead to reduced reproduction and death. Summer temperatures can thus place serious limits on the pika’s distribution. Stewart et al (2015) created a model to assess the potential risk posed to piks and other climate-sensitive mammals by climate change. Their model matched previous findings and predicted high levels of extirpation of pikas in study sites across California, with the size of talus area and summer temperatures being the best predictors of range. Continue reading

Climate Change Causes Ectotherms to Produce a Lost Generation

by Anna Alquitela

Ectotherms are organisms that rely on environmental heat sources to maintain their body temperatures. The timing of reproduction in these organisms has much to do with their available thermal time windows. According to Van Dyck et al. (2015), the warming climate could cause an increase in the annual number of generations of ectotherms, but this response is potentially maladaptive, leading to a developmental trap; if an organism reproduces at the end of its reproductive season, there is a good chance that the new generation will die and the energy used to produce that generation would have been in vain. Continue reading

Environmentalists Sue Governmental Agencies in an Effort to Help Pallid Sturgeon in Montana Rivers

by Trevor Smith

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that two environmental activist groups have filed a lawsuit early this week against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation (Lundquist 2015). The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Defenders of Wildlife’s suit claims that these agencies’ operation of dams on the Montana and Yellowstone Rivers threatens the life of pallid sturgeon. The suit hopes both to stop the agencies’ current actions, which it claims will be ineffective in helping the fish survive, and to force the agencies to create a new dam modification plan.

Pallid sturgeon have been listed as endangered since 1990, and although their population is estimated to have increased somewhat since then (Brown 2015), biologists assert that the upper Missouri River pallid sturgeon fish population rests at approximately 125 fish, almost all of whom are older—younger fish are not surviving (Lundquist 2015).

The problem comes from the way the two dams in question work. A study published by the American Fisheries Society in Fisheries last month makes the novel claim that one of the main reasons the dams threaten pallid sturgeon is not because of their difficulty passing through the dams, but because the dams slow the speed of the water, creating anoxic “dead zones” that lack enough oxygen for the fish to survive (Guy et al. 2015). The study is notable in that it focuses on the effects of dams on fish survival upriver of the dams, noting that dams make life more difficult for pallid sturgeon miles before they attempt to cross the dam.

The lawsuit cites this evidence to argue that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s current plan to aid pallid sturgeon survival—increasing the width of side channels for fish to navigate through dams—is unlikely to be particularly effective at increasing the size of the sturgeon population (Brown 2015).The lawsuit seeks both to block this current plan and to require governmental agencies overseeing the dams to make different modifications to improve the health of the rivers for the pallid sturgeon.


Pallid Sturgeon, Endangered Species, Dams, Lawsuits, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Brown, Matthew. “Advocates: Dams Put Dinosaur-Like River Fish at Risk.” ABC News. February 2, 2015.

Guy, Christopher S., Treanor, Hilary B., Kappenman, Kevin M., Scholl, Eric A., Ilgen, Jason E., Webb, Molly A. H. “Broadening the Regulated-River Management Paradigm: A Case Study of the Forgotten Dead Zone Hindering Pallid Sturgeon Recovery”. Fisheries.

Lundquist, Laura. “Groups sue to save endangered pallid sturgeon”. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle. February 2, 2015.