The “tug of war” facing urban wildlife: When to forage on human foods?

An urban squirrel feasting on its bird feeder treasures.

An urban squirrel feasting on its bird feeder treasures.

By Jerod A. Merkle

Human dominated landscapes can provide a food haven for certain species. Think squirrels and pigeons, animals many of us see almost every day. These species have adapted so well to human infrastructure and its seemingly endless bounty, that they can live their entire lives within cities with millions of people.

Of course, there are other species that also capitalize on foods available in urban areas.  But they do so with much less visibility.  In fact, they spend much of their time in more natural areas, only venturing into urban areas to feed.  In this case, think of animals such as raccoons, coyotes, and bears. Although the act of moving from wildlands into urban areas is for the most part driven by food, our understanding of how animals make these decisions is still not complete.  Understanding how and why these behaviors develop can help direct efforts to minimize human-wildlife conflicts.

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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

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

Trees, Forests, Landscapes, and My Pursuit of a PhD

Shore Pine. Patrick’s Point State Park, California. 2010.

By Sarah Bisbing

Each year as spring transitions into summer, there are certain feelings aroused in a field ecologist – those of anticipation, excitement, and fear. Anticipation for the answers we’re seeking, excitement for the many adventures that will surely arise over the course of the field season (grizzly bear charge, anyone?), and fear that we are nowhere near ready to head out and that we have absolutely no clue what we’re doing. Continue reading