What is the future of ‘Colorful Colorado’?: A Glimpse into Sudden Aspen Decline on the Western Slope

Colorado Quaking Aspen. Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons License, 2012.

By Sarah Bisbing and Kristen Pelz

Following a summer of record high temperatures and extreme drought, we bet you’ll have a hard time imagining the feel of a cool, autumn day. For just a minute, though, let’s go there. Imagine: cool, crisp mornings; piping hot soups and apple pie; thick, wool sweaters; and (our favorite) the true mark of fall’s arrival – the turning of leaves and the coloring of our forests.

Although the eastern U.S. is renowned for its fall color, the western U.S. has its own colorful gem. The quintessential player in fall coloring of the western U.S. is quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides). Continue reading


Why the mayor wants you to a have a green lawn: The dark side of water conservation

By Lauren Kuehne

I recently met a new acquaintance (who shall remain nameless) that works in an agency (also nameless) that supplies water to a medium-sized metropolitan area (let’s call it “Somewhere, WA”). Over coffee, where I traded my stories in freshwater research for theirs from the convoluted hallways of freshwater management, I was surprised to learn that per capita use of water has dramatically declined in many urban areas over the last 20 years, largely a result of conservation programs telling us “No, brown lawns are in this year!” Continue reading

PhD ≠ Job. Networking = The Business of Science.

Some of the ‘Early Career Ecologists’ at the Ecological Society of America Conference in Portland. Clockwise from back row: Andrew, Bill, Mike, Sarah, Helen, and Kelly. What a great bunch!

By Sarah Bisbing

As early career scientists, we are busy, busy, busy. Our many tasks include (but are not limited to): teaching, fieldwork, lab work, coursework, studying for prelims, analyzing data, publishing papers, attending conferences . . . shall I go on? Man, we’re a busy bunch – a bunch so caught up in our own to-do lists that we fail to acknowledge that there are non-academic, un-sciencey things that will benefit us in the long run. What I’m about to say is no secret, but for some reason this crucial career move is often left unspoken amongst academics – NETWORKING IS KEY. The relationships you take the time to build now will truly benefit you AND your career in the long run. Continue reading

Early Career Ecologist Profile: Meet Kelly S Ramirez

Cedar Creek Exp 001 (Nitrogen addition plots)

Hello readers! I apologize for having written such a serious first post without first introducing myself, my research, and my current job!I am not a Colorado native, but I have lived here for five years now; after getting my BA from Washington State University (GO COUGS!), I moved to Boulder. While at WSU – or rather while looking for grad schools – I discovered microbial ecology. There were a series of straightforward events that led me to my current research interests -> I took ecology. I took microbiology. I asked, can I combine ecology and microbes? Continue reading