Cesar Nufio picks up the trail of 13,000 dead grasshoppers and what they can tell us about climate change

Cesar Nufio, CU-Boulder

When CU-Boulder entomologist Cesar Nufio discovered a collection of 50-year-old grasshoppers in a CU lab, he knew they would be instrumental in assessing the effects of climate change on grasshoppers. Nufio is an adjoint curator in the Entomology Section of the Museum Natural History at CU, and has taught several courses in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. The collection of grasshoppers, along with notebooks cataloging detailed field notes, were the work of Gordon Alexander, former head of CU-Boulder's biology department. Stephanie Paige Ogburn of KUNC.org reports: … [Read more...]

Ozone gardens at CU-Boulder and NCAR reveal harmful effects of pollution

Ozone Garden

Most people have heard about the harmful effects of pollution on human and plant health, but until recently, visualizing such effects took some imagination. Now, new “ozone gardens” at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Museum of Natural History and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Laboratory make the evidence startlingly clear. Visits to the gardens are free and open to the public. Scientists at CU-Boulder and NCAR are growing plants that develop brown and black spots on their leaves when exposed to harmful air pollution. The ozone gardens feature particular … [Read more...]

Methane leaks from palm oil wastewater are climate concern, CU-Boulder study says

Hana Fancher, Philip Taylor methane research palm oil wastewater ponds

In recent years, palm oil production has come under fire from environmentalists concerned about the deforestation of land in the tropics to make way for new palm plantations. Now there is a new reason to be concerned about palm oil’s environmental impact, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. An analysis published Feb. 26 in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the wastewater produced during the processing of palm oil is a significant source of heat-trapping methane in the atmosphere. But the researchers also present a possible solution: capturing the … [Read more...]

Amazonian drought conditions add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere

Amazon River through the rainforest

This article originally appeared on the University of Colorado Boulder website. As climates change, the lush tropical ecosystems of the Amazon Basin may release more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they absorb, according to a new study published Feb. 6 in Nature. An international team of scientists found that the amount of yearly rainfall was the driving factor behind the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) taken up and released from Amazonia in 2010 and 2011. During a wet year, the Amazon forests were roughly carbon-neutral: Forests “inhaled” more carbon … [Read more...]

Differences in mammal responses to climate change: new CU-Boulder study

Elk

If you were a shrew snuffling around a North American forest, you would be 27 times less likely to respond to climate change than if you were a moose grazing nearby. That is just one of the findings of a new University of Colorado Boulder assessment led by Assistant Professor Christy McCain that looked at more than 1,000 different scientific studies on North American mammal responses to human-caused climate change. The CU-Boulder team eventually selected 140 scientific papers containing population responses from 73 North American mammal species for their analysis. The studies assessed by … [Read more...]

Pine Beetles don’t stick around on slippery bark, says CU-Boulder study

Mountain Pine Beetle

In the online journal Functional Ecology, Doctoral student Scott Ferrenberg and Professor Jeff Mitton of University of Colorado, Boulder describe how they conducted field surveys to determine if mountain pine beetles can successfully attack limber pines with smooth versus rough bark. Scott, who led the study, said he first began to suspect that bark texture might affect the survival of trees while he and Dr. Mitton, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, were walking through a stand of high-elevation limber pines. They noticed that surface resin, a residue of fighting off a beetle … [Read more...]

Drought and the Spruce Bark Beetle: New CU-Boulder Study Makes the Connection

spruce bark beetle

Editor's note: The following article was submitted by CU-Boulder Geography Ph.D. student Sarah Hart. Periods of drought and warm temperatures, are responsible for periods of spruce beetle outbreak in Colorado, says a new University of Colorado Boulder-led study. A new study used tree-rings and documentary records of spruce beetle outbreak across much of the Rockies from the northern Front Range to Grand Mesa in southwestern Colorado over the past 300+ years to examine the climate variables associated with past outbreaks. Notably these multi-century tree-ring records of outbreaks … [Read more...]