Our forestry program at Cal Poly, along with many other programs nationwide, is looking to the future and working to identify programatic changes that will support the ever-evolving industry while also engaging the students these industries will be dependent upon in the future. Forestry programs have seen diminishing enrollments over the last few decades despite the ample job opportunities available to graduates. So, what gives? Well, cultural, social, and political drivers along with an increased understanding of ecosystem dynamics is challenging forestry programs to be innovative and to alter the structure of the curriculum.
At Cal Poly, we are working to identify the drivers of student interest and hoping to make changes based on these interests. Please help us make progress and positive change by participating in this survey:
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 →
Cows grazing near aspen in MPB-killed lodgepole pine forest.
By Kristen Pelz
This past summer, I attended a meeting about aspen ecology and management. I presented my thoughts about how aspen (Populus tremuloides) will respond to widespread lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) mortality caused by mountain pine beetle (MPB) (Dendroctonus ponderosae). I was nervous and excited to present to a small group of accomplished scientists and high-level managers from around the country. I thought I had a complete theory about why aspen had not increased in the way we had expected following a 1980s MPB outbreak that I studied for my Master’s thesis. But, meeting and talking with many people really broadened my perspective and reminded me—once again—about the importance of avoiding tunnel vision in research. Continue reading →
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 →