Soil Equality

Forest soil under lodegpole pine in Lyons, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Andrea Borkenhagen, 2013.

Forest soil under lodegpole pine in Lyons, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Andrea Borkenhagen, 2013.

By Kelly S. Ramirez, PhD

As a soil ecologist, I am inevitably asked about dirt (and lawn care), but mainly dirt. Depending on the person and my mood and the event, I may quip back, ‘dirt is under your fingernails.’* Some inquirer’s eyes will glaze over, realizing I was the wrong person to make small talk with at said event. Others will eye me apologetically.

Soil, not dirt, is the foundation of our terrestrial ecosystems, maintains our food sources, cleans and cycles our water, regulates climate change, controls disease, and supports our cultural activities and recreation (Wall and Nielsen, 2012). Continue reading

Orcas iced in: a hot topic in the frozen North

Photo credit: Jaime Ramos, National Science Foundation Ross Sea Killer Whale breaches in the Antarctic region.

Villagers watch as a killer whale surfaces for air near Inukjuak, Quebec last week. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse)

By Guest Blogger Bethann G. Merkle

Last week, while the world watched with bated breath, a pod of orcas (Orcinus orca) swam in an ever-shrinking zone of open water. Each time they came up for air, frigid water sloshed onto the surrounding ice and froze, compounding the problem little by little. Much farther north than normal for this time of year, the killer whales were clearly out of their element. Continue reading

Trees on the Move? Debating Assisted Migration in Climate Change Mitigation

Tree Crossing. Borrowed from Clint Peters.

Tree Crossing. Borrowed from Clint Peters.

By Sarah Bisbing

Trees on the move?! I know you’re thinking, “Come on, Sarah. Trees can’t move.” And, generally, you would be correct in that statement. Tree species are now, however, in a position where movement may be necessary for survival under changing climatic conditions. How trees will move is under debate within the ecological community, but why trees will move is accepted as a survival strategy related to the adaptation of species. Continue reading

Book Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver


By Mike SanClements

Apparently, the only thing us bloggers did over the holidays was sit around and read books. So, much like Kelly’s post earlier this week, I’ll also be writing about something I recently read.

Flight Behavior, the new Barbara Kingsolver novel, discusses climate change more openly and intelligently than any other piece of fiction I’ve come across. And the writing is gorgeous. Continue reading

In our own backyard

By Kelly S. Ramirez

Hello Readers, Happy New Year and welcome back to Early Career Ecologists! We are excited to get back into our normal posting schedule. Here’s to a productive and stimulating 2013.

Over my holiday break I read The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. (I finally got around to reading it after hearing this NPR interview). Briefly, The Dog Stars is a novel about a man, Hig, living in post apocalyptic Colorado, nine years after a plague has wiped out most of the human population; he is left with his dog, the stars and a neighbor with a massive weapons arsenal.


What I found so great about the novel, first, was Heller’s use of poetry and disjointed prose to highlight Hig’s loss – of his family, his surrounding environment, really the entire world. Amidst the sorrow though, Heller maintains a sense of hopefulness and lightheartedness that makes this a beautifully written and enjoyable novel.

But I am not here to write a book review- check out here and here if you stumbled upon this page for that reason. Though if you are wondering, I would say the catastrophic feel of this book falls somewhere between The Road, by Cormac McCarthy* and WALL×E, the lighthearted animated Disney film about a futuristic robot. This post is instead focused on the role of literature and film in public understanding of climate change. Continue reading