Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Unstable Oceans and the Long Memory of Coral Reefs.”

by Ryan Chatfield and Heather Whittier
On Tuesday April 16, 2002 Ellen Druffel spoke on “Unstable Oceans and the Long Memory of Coral Reefs.”

Ellen Druffel spoke about how we can use the ocean as an indicator of climate change.  Her primary research objectives are to be able to parameterize future climate change.  She began by discussing that the ocean fluctuates on interannual and interdecadal cycles. El Nino is an example of the interannual cycles that occur while the Pacific decadal oscillation is an example of the interdecadal oceanic fluctuations. Corals develop annual bands that contain varying concentrations of isotopes.  Her research involves sectioning corals and using radioisotopes and stable isotopes in the corals to determine fluctuations in ocean temperature and salinity.  Some of the questions are how has climate varied during the past few hundred years, how does this compare with recent climate change,and has cycling of CO2 between air and sea been affected as a result of changes in climate.  Druffel’s research findings from the Galapogos Islands reveal that over the last four centuries oceans have been becoming warmer.

Professor Ellen R. M. Druffel is Professor of Earth Systems Science, University of California, Irvine, CA with a joint position at  Scripps Institution of Oceanography.   Dr. Druffel is internationally known in the area of earth systems science. Her research interests include the cycling of organic carbon between the surface and deep ocean, and determination of past changes in circulation and ventilation in the upper ocean.

Dr. Druffel earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego in 1980. She has formerly served as a member of the National Academy of Science's Ocean Studies Board, as a participant of numerous scientific voyages, and as a scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She is an Associate Editor of Oceanography, a Councillor of The Oceanography Society, and chair of the new Honors and Recognition Committee of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Dr. Druffel's visit was sponsored by SUNY ESF, the Faculty of Chemistry, and the ESF Women’s Caucus.

Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Facing the Future: Meeting the Information Challenges for Natural Resources Management.

As part of the course requirements for FOR 797 Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions, students share the responsibility for reporting on our speakers for distribution to ESFWOMEN listserv, co-sponsors, and the Knothole.

Farnsworth Memorial Lecture and Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Campus-Wide Seminar April 9, 2002 
Facing the Future:  Meeting the Information Challenges for Natural Resources Management.
Dr. Susan Stafford, Colorado State University
Summarized by Heather Engelman

In meeting the information challenges that face resource managers, one might consider Dr. Susan Stafford’s subtitle “Do unto data before it does unto you”.  The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network of 24 sites serves as an example of concurrent diligent data collection and management of ongoing studies coupled with exciting new research possibilities.  The network relies on continuous measurements of existing, long-term studies and analysis for the integration and synthesis of results, generalization of these results for broader use across disciplines, cultures and spatial and temporal scales.  LTER aims to better science that challenges technology.

Dr. Stafford discussed the H.J. Andrews Experimental Site (AND) and the Shortgrass Steppe (SGS) sites to demonstrate the goals of understanding, synthesizing, and disseminating information.  In particular, she talked about the change in focus of research projects over time from efficient management of AND in the 1940s to the interaction of its forests and streams to old-growth/spotted owl to its current focus of global change.   SGS research has also evolved from the sustainability of rangelands to ecosystem interactions and productivity to landscape issues and nutrient cycling to both global issues and local praire dogs.   Information technology has dramatically progressed during this period as well from field books to mainframe computers to personal computers with FTP, e-mail, LAN, and WWW capabilities, to a common ecological metadata language (EML) useful across all 24 research sites.

LTER sites must share date with the scientific community within 24 months (with some exceptions, such as thesis/dissertation completion or additional measurement required).  Two additional challenges are to determine how the limited available funds can be best spent, and to train the “next batch of scientists.”  LTER successes at site and network level are numerous: collaborations with other organizations, substantial databanks, dynamic web pages, school yard long term ecological research (SYLTER) programs for K-12, network information systems (NIS), the development of EML and increased access to data and cross-site transfer of such.  The network also has fostered an increased sense of community among and between the research sites.

Stafford earned a B.S. in Biology and Mathematics at Syracuse University in 1974, a M.S. in Quantitative Ecology at ESF in 1975, and a Ph.D. in Applied Statistics at ESF in 1979.   She was part of Oregon State University’s Quantitative Sciences Group for 19 years, with 1-year assignments as a Faculty Associate to the Provost (1987-1988) and as a Division Director of Biological Infrastructure for the National Science Foundation (1994).  Since 1998, she has been the Forest Sciences Department Head at Colorado State University. Dr. Stafford's research interests include research information management, applied statistics, multivariate analysis and experimental design, scientific databases, GIS applications, and other data management topics.

Stafford was the keynote speaker of the Annual C. Eugene Farnsworth Memorial Lecture and Fellowship Ceremony, sponsored by the Faculty of Forest and Natural Resources Management.   Stafford’s lecture was also part of the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Seminar Series organized by the ESF Women’s Caucus. The prestigious Farnsworth fellowships honor the memory of Dr. “Gene” Farnsworth and his many contributions to professional forestry nationally and internationally, and in particular to his contributions to forestry education.   By modest count, he influenced the lives of 1500 forest technicians and 4000 professional forestry students in the 52 years he was affiliated with ESF and its forest technology program at the NYS Ranger School.  The fellows for 2002 are John Munsell, a MS student in Forest Resources Management, policy and administration, and Eric Greenfield, a PhD candidate in the Forest Resources Management area.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Alternative Economies in a Forested Landscape: Non-Timber Forest Products.

Karis McFarlane and Emera Bridger

On Tuesday February 19, 2002, Dr. Marla Emery, a research geographer for the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Research Station, spoke on “Alternative Economies in a Forested Landscape: Non-Timber Forest Products.”  Dr. Emery was thoroughly excited to share her work with students and faculty at ESF.   Her belief in the importance of her work was immediately evident.
For the purposes of her studies, Dr. Emery defined non-timber forest products as any plant or fungal product other than wooden boards or paper.  Her scope did not include wildlife or timber harvested on any scale for any use.  She described four categories of use for NTFPs including: sale in raw form, sale in processed form, personal consumption, and gift giving.  She went on to describe the role of NTFPs in human-forest interactions including the economic and the ecological.
Dr. Emery explained that the majority of NTFPs harvested are not used for market-based sale.  In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, for example, NTFPs are only used for sale 40% of the time.  This means that traditional Neoclassical economics acknowledges the contribution of NTFPs to harvesters livelihoods less than half of the time.  Alternative economic uses of NTFPs include personal consumption of edibles and medicinals by a harvester’s household, ceremonials, and decoratives not sold for a profit. The use of NTFPs is especially important on the household economy level.  They supplement other earnings, bridge income gaps, and provide a flexible commodity for times of special need.  NTFP harvesting allows people to maintain their livelihood in areas where traditional employment opportunities are scarce.  Individuals’ needs change over their lifespan as do their dependence and use of NTFPs.  Non-timber forest products also support local microenterprises such as a monastery-based jam and jelly business that Dr. Emery provided as an example.
NTFPs also provide people with a detailed and localized knowledge about the forest and it’s plant and fungal species.  They contribute to community and household values.  Provide for the intergenerational relationships and knowledge transfer.  They also allow households an alternative to government assistance and help people to stay in areas where employment opportunities are few.
The common assumption in popular ecology is that productive human activity degrades ecosystems.  Dr. Emery argued that different types of human activity effect the environment in different ways and at different levels.  Most harvesters of NTFPs are aligned with conservation efforts.  They are very concerned with management practices, as these practices have an immediate impact on non-timber species and their ability to harvest them.  NTFPs provide alternative economic development opportunities as well as alternative human-environment interactions.
During the questions that followed Dr. Emery’s talk, she expressed concern over the increasing commercialization of the floral and herbal medicinal industries.  Another source of concern is the trend of the closing of the commons.   As land continues to be transferred into private hands and regulations over the use of public land increase, NTFP harvesters may find it more difficult to harvest and use NTFPs as they have used them in the past.  This could have large impacts on the ability of NTFP harvesters to support themselves, eliminate this aspect of the human-nature relationship, and lead to the loss of vast amounts of local knowledge.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Conserving Biodiversity in Vietnam and Bolivia: The Need for Adaptive Managemen

by Nancy Harris and Emily Cloyd

As the first speaker in the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions series, Dr. Eleanor Sterling gave a presentation on January 29, 2002 in 139 Baker entitled “Conserving Biodiversity in Vietnam and Bolivia: The Need for Adaptive Management” that attracted a crowd of over 70 attendees.  Dr. Sterling currently acts as Director for the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she manages biodiversity projects in various locations including Madagascar, Bolivia, Vietnam, and Guatemala.  Dr. James Gibbs, Sterling’s long-time friend and colleague, gave a short but effective introduction, stating that Eleanor “has what it takes to make conservation biology work all around the world.”
                The focus of Eleanor’s hour-long presentation was split between the seemingly disparate nations of Vietnam and Bolivia.  In fact, Eleanor emphasized the differences between the two areas from a biodiversity perspective: while the majority of Vietnam is vastly populated and “built out” leaving protected areas as small and scattered plots of land, Bolivia has plenty of ‘protectable’ land but no people to protect it.  Population density is low, and thus there are few domestic scientists to collect biological information.  The goal in both countries is to set aside reserves that harbor biodiversity.  In Bolivia, however, better biological data must first be obtained.  In both countries, conservation biologists are forced to make key decisions in the face of uncertainty.   
The common objective of conservation biologists in developing countries, Sterling stated, should be to strive towards ‘adaptive management’ when making conservation decisions.  One specific example cited was the need to develop material, such as textbooks in the country’s native language, which developing countries can use for education and awareness.  Sterling also stressed the need to be wary of the spiritual, cultural, political and economic interactions that native people have with the landscape, and was quick to point out that what works on paper may not necessarily work in application.  Interaction between scientists and natives is an important and necessary component for the program’s success.
Among the colorful pictures and innovative ideas of Sterling’s presentation, the increased contribution of technology to the field of conservation biology was made clear.  GIS maps, camera traps, remote sensing data and GPS data were all displayed and/or mentioned as being advantageous tools that facilitate the decision-making process.
A common problem in both Vietnam and Bolivia, Sterling noted, is the view that once a decision has been made, the program must continue along the preplanned course of action.  Through her continued efforts, Sterling hopes to turn this notion on its head; if an action fails, it becomes necessary to take a step back and come up with an alternative management strategy that works.  For the most part, the route taken from point A to point B is not as important as getting to point B.  This approach seems logical, yet perhaps it took a woman like Eleanor Sterling to make it work.