Diversity, stability, and non-native species

Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Blog, Featured | Comments Off

Diversity, stability, and non-native species

The key to riding out an unpredictable financial market is to diversify your portfolio. By spreading risk across stocks that respond uniquely to market conditions, you’ll likely buffer your portfolio from the fluctuations that any single stock experiences. One loses while another gains, but on average your investment return remains stable. It turns out that this strategy may be as beneficial for fish communities as it is for people. For many decades ecologists have studied how increasing the diversity of a biological community, the number of...

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Super-fishes in disguise: Mudminnow worldwide

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Blog, Featured | Comments Off

Super-fishes in disguise: Mudminnow worldwide

If ever a group of fishes were in need of a PR makeover, it’s mudminnows. Everything about the name – from undesirable mud to inconsequential minnow says “nothing to see here”. But these unassuming species are veritable Clark Kents of the fish world: small size and mild appearance disguise super-fish able to withstand dangerously low oxygen levels and defend spawning territories equivalent (if they were human) to two football fields. These are a few of the biodiversity secrets brought to light in a recent lab paper that reviews...

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Go with the flow: novel methods for establishing flow-ecology relationships

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Blog, Featured | Comments Off

Go with the flow: novel methods for establishing flow-ecology relationships

Perhaps the greatest challenge for water managers around the world is maintaining reliable water supplies and healthy river ecosystems.  There can be direct trade-offs between these goals because surface and groundwater extraction and regulation of river flows can lead to dramatic declines in native fish assemblages. This dichotomy has led to the burgeoning field of environmental flows where managers – using tactics such as managed releases from dams or extraction limits – allocate river flows for the benefit of the river itself, not...

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Flood of opportunities below dams

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Blog, Featured | Comments Off

Flood of opportunities below dams

When author Edward Abbey famously wrote “The Monkey Wrench Gang” in 1975, he was roundly condemned for portraying eco-terrorists plotting to blow up Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. Forty years later, the aging of the world’s dams, coupled with increasing awareness of their environmental costs, has brought dam decommissioning and re-operation to the attention of the scientific community, management agencies, and the general public. Just last month, a historic pulse of water released from the gates of Morelos Dam on the U.S.-Mexico...

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A global perspective on crayfish invasions

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Blog, Featured | Comments Off

A global perspective on crayfish invasions

Crayfish, also known as “crawfish”, “mudbugs”, and “crawdads”, are freshwater crustaceans known more for their tasty tail meat than their destructive behaviors. In fact, crayfish are so well liked as a culinary item that two species indigenous to the United States have been introduced to Europe and Asia for aquaculture. Unfortunately, these non-native crayfish escaped the lakes and aquaculture ponds where they were introduced and are now widespread in places as far away as Italy and Japan. Non-native crayfish are now a major concern...

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Beavers at work: good for native fish?

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off

Beavers at work: good for native fish?

Walk along a river down in Arizona or New Mexico and you might see fallen trees, distinctive pencil-shaped gnawed stumps, or even a small dam across the stream – all signs of a beaver at work. Beavers, of course, are famous for their ability to build dams and change their environment; but, although beavers in North America range throughout most of the desert Southwest and into northern Mexico, very little is known about their ecological role in desert streams.  Recently, scientists and resource managers have become interested in how beaver...

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PAWS-On-Science Outreach! April 2013

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Blog, Citizen Science | Comments Off

PAWS-On-Science Outreach! April 2013

(Or, how some Velcro, crayons, and enthusiasm can go a long way to engage kids in science). Like many ecologists (and ecologists-in-training), members of the Olden Lab spend a good deal of time dissecting complex ideas in ecology and statistics. Although the work is exciting and rewarding in its own right, we also have felt a desire and responsibility to use our findings to help inspire and teach the next generation of learners – and the taxpayers that often help fund our work! Enter events like Paws-On Science (April 5-7, 2013, at The...

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Sounding out the impacts of urbanization on lakes

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off

Sounding out the impacts of urbanization on lakes

If you are wondering why you seem stressed out lately, it could be the noise around you. A recent lab publication showed that environmental noise levels at freshwater lakes (the places we like to live, recreate, and relax) can be noisy – quite noisy, in fact – depending on the level of surrounding urbanization. Noise levels at urban lakes surpassed thresholds established by the Environmental Protection Agency for ‘outdoor annoyance and disturbance’ in over two-thirds of hourly measurements; noise levels decreased predictably with lower...

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Taking the edge off: Can flow ecology help soften the blow of dams?

Posted by on Jan 10, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off

Taking the edge off: Can flow ecology help soften the blow of dams?

Water is the fundamental requirement for humans and for society. Humans have dammed, dyked, channeled, diverted, and pumped water for millennia to control freshwater for society, often changing the flow of streams and rivers to meet human needs. Dams provide substantial and undeniable benefits to society, including drinking water, irrigation, flood control, and – particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries – hydropower. But these benefits come at environmental and economic costs. Dams often result in the loss of important ecological...

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Ecological avatars predict species invasions

Posted by on Nov 29, 2012 in Blog | Comments Off

Ecological avatars predict species invasions

Predicting species invasions is hard enough, but how can we accomplish this for non-native species with little history of misbehaving? New research published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography by Eric and Julian suggests that borrowing the experience of a known invasive species – an ‘avatar’ species – may be useful in identifying where emerging invaders can establish. Although avatars largely breached public consciousness through a 2009 film of the same name, the utility of a virtual or remote entity to test or play out scenarios...

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