Sunday, December 27, 2009

Come to Realization!

INDIVIDUAL CHANGES ALONE WILL NOT STOP THIS PERPETUAL CHANGE IN OUR CLIMATE

We must come to realization that changes in all governments and corporations must be made to stop the increasing destruction of the environment and global climate change. Yes, individual changes can be made, and should be made. But, one or two changes in your lifestyle does not do much (i.e., lowering the heat or biking to work). These individual effort do very little to prevent global climate change, except mostly making you feel a little bit better about yourself. What is really happening is the prevention that you are doing is made up by others. Our main culprit is big industry fulfilling the need of the masses, the masses are over-populating the world and the over-population is provided by big industry. It is a vicious positive feedback!

One of the big problems is the government is allowing this to happen. They are only allowing this to happen because of big industry is paying the government to allow this to happen. The government is not ran by the people, it is ran by big business. There is no change! There will never be change!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Synthesis of Kremen et al. 2002

Intensified land use in agriculture, for furnishing long-term demands for food, livestock and biofuels, has lead to reduction of natural and semi-natural habitats (Tscharnkte et al 2005, Bianchi et al. 2006, Tschanrtke et al. 2007). The conversion of these habitats severely impacts crops that entirely rely on pollinators (Klein et al. 2007) and natural enemies (Landis et al. 2000) for high yields. Natural habitat is also harmed by having reduced seed sets because these habitats also rely on these beneficial insects (Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharnkte 1999). As this intensification increases, landscapes changes from diverse crops and pastures in small fields, to large fields of one or two crops type with little to no non-crop habitat (e.g., corn and soybeans; Burel and Baudry 2003).

Natural and semi-natural habitats that can be retained in turn may provide for greater number of beneficial insects and the services that they provide (e.g., Holzschuh et al. 2007, Kremen et al. 2007, Winfree et al. 2008). These habitats are stable resources of perennial plants that are necessary for pollinators, predators and parasitoids, by supplying a continuous nectar resources, alternative prey sources and natural nesting habitats (Kremen et al. 2004, Winfree et al. 2008, Tschanrtke et al. 2007). High landscape heterogeneity with more non-crop habitat has a higher diversity of flowering and perennial plants and therefore a higher diversity of beneficial insects (Holzchuh et al. 2007, Klein et al. 2007, Tschanrtke et al. 2007).

Landscapes with high heterogeneity in land use/land cover type, should have higher levels of species diversity (Burel and Baudry 2003, Tscharkte et al. 2007). Billiter et al. (2008) found that there is a positive correlation between species richness of plants and arthropods. Positive influences on beneficial insects have been seen with the spatial arrangement and larger amounts of perennial habitat (Tscharnkte et al. 2007, Marini et al. 2009).
In this synthesis, we will be examining pollination services, the impacts of pest suppression on pollinators, and how natural habitat supplies necessary resources for these beneficial insects, and how the Kremen et al. (2002) paper considers near-by natural habitat essential for pollination of watermelon crops by native bees, which are seen as having the ability to provide equivalent service to that of managed honey bee populations.

Natural Habitat
Agricultural landscapes with diverse land uses may support high levels of biodiversity of insects and provide a range of ecosystem services (Swinton et al. 2007, Zhang et al. 2007). Insects comprise the most diverse and successful group of multicellular organisms on the planet, and they contribute significantly to vital ecological functions such as pollination, pest control, decomposition, and maintenance of wildlife species (Nee, 2004). A study by Losey and Vaughn (2006) shows that the value of insect services is almost $60 billion a year in the United States, which is only a fraction of the value for all the services insects provide. Indeed, these service-providing insects are under ever increasing threat from a combination of forces, including habitat fragmentation, land cover changes, invasion of non-native plants and animals, and overuse of toxic chemicals. The evidence indicates that beneficial insects are under a steady decline, associated with an overall decline in biodiversity (Kremen et al. 2002). New evidence indicates that in some situations, the most important species for providing ecosystem services are lost first. The overall, gradual decline in species, coupled with nonlinear changes in service levels, makes it difficult to pinpoint an optimal level of annual investment to conserve beneficial insects and maintain the services they provide (Bianchi et al. 2006).

Pollination
Animal pollination is essential for the successful reproduction of most flowering plants. Pollination provides for the transportation of pollen grains, eventually fulfilling both the ecosystem service of fruit and seed production (Kremen et al. 2002). Of the estimated 240,000 species of plants, nearly 220,000, including 70% of the crops that feed human begins depend on animals, mainly insects for pollination. Research shows that over 100,000 animal species including bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, and flies are responsible for providing most pollination services that perpetuate our managed ad natural fields (Daily et al. 1997).
Pollination is perhaps the best ecosystem service performed by insects (Losey and Vaughan 2006). Estimates show that about one third of our food crops are pollinated by wild pollinators. Therefore, without wild pollinators farm yield would be adversely affected, and the survival of wild plants would be uncertain. Among insects, bees constitute the most dominant taxa in providing crop pollination (Zhang et al. 2007), pollinating more than two-thirds of the world’s 1,500 crop species (Kremen et al. 2002).

Pollination by bees, whether managed or native plays one of the most important roles in ensuring survival of food and non-food crops. In the US, pollination by native bees is very important. A study conducted by Cornell University in 2000 estimated the value of bee pollination in United States to be $14.6 billion (Morse and Calderone, 2000). In addition, pollination by honey bees which was imported from Europe also plays a great role in crop pollination. However, there have been great concerns about the invasion and success of the more aggressive African honey bee and the decline of native bees. Questions abound as to whether put more conservation efforts in protecting managed honey bees, or divert most of the resources in managing natural ecosystems upon which native bees depend. Another recent study by Kremen and Vaughan (2009) still on watermelon, a crop with high pollination demand, observed that wild bee community can provide sufficient pollination services for watermelon. Thus conserving native habitats can perpetuate the life of native pollinators and meet pollination needs of our crops. However, it is apparent that higher bee diversity, both managed and native correlates with higher diversity of flowering plants (Kremen et al. 2002).
Perhaps the importance of bee pollination in the US can be explained by watermelon production. Between 1997 and 2000, watermelon production in the US rose by 20% with the number of bee colonies rented in for watermelon production reaching 2000 (Morse and Calderone 2000).

Pest Control
The simplification of landscape composition and the decline of biodiversity may affect the functioning of natural pest control because non-crop habitats provide requisites for a broad spectrum of natural enemies, and the exchange of natural enemies between crop and non-crop habitats is likely to be diminished in landscapes dominated by arable cropland. Pest control has often been highlighted as an important ecosystem service provided by biodiversity (Mooney et al. 1995) and one that is threatened by modern agricultural practices (Naylor and Ehrlich 1997). Intensification of agriculture tends to simplify landscapes systems (Swift et al. 1996), reducing natural enemy diversity (Basedow 1990; Andersen and Eltun 2000). Although this is often known to destabilize arthropod populations (Swift et al. 1996), it often results in pest outbreak. A Study by Wilby et al. (2002) shows that with the increasing strength of species composition effects, pest control became less resistant, on average, to reduction of natural enemy species richness. Natural pest control is enhanced in complex patchy landscape with a high proportion of non-crop habitats as compared to simple large-scale landscapes with little associated non-crop habitat. Natural enemy populations were higher and pest pressure lower in complex landscapes versus simple landscapes (Wilby et al. 2002). Landscape-driven pest suppression may result in lower crop injury, although this has rarely been documented. Enhanced natural enemy activity was associated with herbaceous habitats in 80% of the cases (e.g. fallows, field margins), and somewhat less often with wooded habitats (71%) and landscape patchiness (70%). The similar contributions of these landscape factors suggest that all are equally important in enhancing natural enemy populations. Diversified landscapes hold most potential for the conservation of biodiversity and sustaining the pest control function (Bianchi 2006).

Conclusion and Synthesis
The finding of Kremen et al. (2002) shows that by having natural and semi-natural habitat near crop patches, that native bee community can provide pollination services that are equivalent to managed honey bees. Availability of critical resources influences the abundance and diversity of pollinators in the wild (Kremen et al. 2007). By having natural and semi-natural habitat, which has the ability of providing these necessary resources, near crop habitat, the amount and stability of pollination services generally increased (Kremen et al. 2002, Kremen et al 2004); but when agriculture is increased, there is a reduction in the diversity and abundance of pollinators by reducing and altering, in both space and time, the availability of floral resources (Kremen et al. 2007).

Bee foraging and pollination are affected by spatial arrangement of additional flowering patches, the diversity of flowers in these flowering patches, the spatial scale at which the flower visitor perceives variation flower abundances and the distribution of nesting sites (Kremen et al. 2007, Steffan-Dewenter et al. 2002, Tscharnkte et al. 2007). In agricultural fields, that are isolated from natural and semi-natural habitats, the diversity and abundance of native bees and the pollination services that they provides were below that necessary threshold to produce marketable products (Kremen et al. 2002). Overall complexity of the landscape is reduced during agricultural intensification because natural non-crop habitat is fragmented and is located in less productive areas at greater distances to farms. Therefore, managing for diversity of bees, though both farming practices and including natural and semi-natural habitat in close proximity, pollination requirements can be met (Kremens et al. 2002, Tscharnkte et al. 2007).


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Suzan et al (2009) reflection

The spread of disease is one of the most prominent global environmental issues in ecology and has consequences in politics, economy and health. Hantavirus, causes of hemorrhagic fevor and Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in Asia, Europe and the America, can be transmitted directly through inhalation of aerosolized viruses or contact to a variety of rodent species. In the study done by Suzan et al. (2009; PLoS one:4(5) e5461), they looked at how species diversity plays a role on the Hantavirus in Southern Panama. They measured the amount of antibodies to the SNV nucleocapsid antigen found in the blood. They predicted that in areas of high species diversity, there will be a reduction Hantavirus pathogen. They found that as they removed non-reservoir species, that both the abundance and prevalence of Hantavirus increased. They also found, as the abundance of the reservoir species increased, in the removal sites, the prevalence of Hantavirus also increased. Therefore, high diversity regulated the abundance of of the primary reservoir species and reduces pathogen transmission and disease-risk. An increase in diversity can be an ecosystem service by keeping disease transmission low. By keeping diversity high in areas, the risk of the spread of diseases is low and therefore the risk to spread diseased to humans can be low also.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Welsh and Ollivier (1998) responce

In the terms of stream conservation, Welsh and Ollivier (Ecological Applications: 8, 1118-1132) did a good job at showing distinctly how the influxes of sediment from road construction affected amphibian densities and populations, within the vicinity of human populations. By comparing amphibian population in streams impacted by sedimentation to neighboring, unimpacted streams, the authors provided results describing three common species’ responses as being species specific and varying by mesohabitat type. In doing so they provide evidence that careful monitoring of these populations in streams, especially in areas in the vicinity of human disturbance, may be a valuable indicator of ecosystem health. They displayed that amphibians could be good in monitoring stream ecosystems. However, this paper did very little to address an ecosystem service, as I see it's definition being the monitory value that the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life.

Ecosystem health surveys main aim is to establish how well the habitat can sustain populations of native organisms. These are not done for the direct benefit of humans. Indirectly, a well maintain ecosystem can benefit humans in many ways, including, among other things, better fishing habitats, aesthetic views, etc. I see no direct monetary value to humans in use of amphibians as indicators. Furthermore, I see that, in the terms of monitoring streams that other indicators has done a good job as indicators (specifically, Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Tricoptera relative abundance and diversity); through theses taxa are, according to our authors "short-lived, explosive breeders, or subject to seasonal movements...which can complicated their use as bioindicators."

In all, every measure that that these papers make are indirectly for the benefit of humans, most of the time monetarily, in one way or another (i.e., aesthetic, water quality, etc.). This is just a new "hip" term that is used to catch the eye and interest of the reader.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Carlsson et al 2004 reflection

I have many different view-points on the paper by Carlsson et al. (2009; Ecology 85:1575-1580). On one hand, this paper was very good at teasing out how the invading species of Golden Apple Snail is negatively correlated with species richness of edible plants and macrophyte species numbers, positive relationship between Golden Apple Snail density and phytoplankton biomass; but on the other hand, I found a vague interpretation of a ecosystem service within this paper. Of course, they imply change to ecosystem function function, but do they do little to spell out how the ecosystem function in a way of an ecosystem service...that was until it was all compiled at the end. Very little of the story was told on how that increases in phytoplankton contributes to the inhibition of water filtering, nutrient retention capacity of wetlands, and human consumption of water. The authors lead a way that the reader could imply a loss of a ecosystem function, but it was not completely spelled out, and I thought that I had to make some bigger leaps to get to what they wanted me to think.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ceballos and Ehrlich (2009) reflection

Two things hit me from this paper (PNAS 166: 3841 - 3846):

1.) "our results suggest that many more unheralded organisms in all groups have likely recently gone extinct without being noticed. That implies that levels if species extinction have been grossly underestimated." I had to reflect on this. It make sense. How are we to know what is all out there? Just like sampling regimes, I cannot know every insects that is in my prairies, that would take too much time and effort. So, one must have to expect that he/she will underestimate extinction rate.

2.) "It is also crucial that the number and diversity of populations - many of which are clearly more genetically and ecologically differentiated that previously thought - and the ecosystem services they provide, also be preserved and, where possible, restored." Yes, it is crucial to have more diverse systems so that ecosystems to function properly.

So, what I got from paper, was not on ecosystem services that organism can supply us, but on conservation. This is one reason that I really enjoy this paper, because they did not focus of the need of diverse ecosystems to serve us. This is what we need to focus on (basically because humans are already greedy enough). What need to be talked aboot is for the greater good of the ecosystem, for all organisms to be able function properly, not for our individual needs. What scientist need to be focused on, and already has is one sense or another, is how each species is critical for the correct functioning of the ecosystem. What is the fail of this paper is the use of the word "ecosyetem services" because it did not have much of an emphasis in this paper.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reflecting on "Living Beyond Our Means"

The MA (http://www.maweb.org/documents/document.429.aspx.pdf) has done a thorough job at pointing out the consequences of ecosystem change in the need to supply, what seems to be perceived as an "endless" supply of resources, to fit the demands for food, fresh water, fiber, and energy. The problem falls in two parts on the shoulders of humans. Firstly, the thought that these resources are thought to be limitless, and secondly, the exponential growth in human population.

How can the need for fresh water and food be met when it is projected that our population is to double in the next fifty years? Imagine, twelve billion people on earth by 2060. Even the essentials will be hard to come by especially since we completely rely on the services that nature provide. But it is hard for a government to put a limit on a person and tell them that they cannot have any more children. Will people put a limit on themselves?

Even with regulating the use of resources, we still live in a throw-away society. Space is another ultimate resource that is not hit on. Where will our waste go? How expansive and high can Mt. Rumpke be? They point out that "with the invention of synthetic material, other materials are still used in huge quantities." Synthetic material doesn't come out of nowhere. It is made from resources. Ultimately is it speeding up the uses of other resources. It is replacing one thing for another. Disposal of these synthetic material is critical because they are not degraded as quickly (or at all...but are biodegradable material degraded in a landfill).

Ultimatley popualtion has to be controlled, even if we don't want to. We need a little self-regulation, but that ultimately does not do well for economies where it will make it unstable where the bottom cannot support the top (I am getting off track).

What is the ultimate message that we can take? We must seek a better way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ecosystem Services Reflection

The paper done by Carpenter et al. (2009, PNAS 106:1305-1312), has an overwhelming amount of detail on “Ecosystem Services” and how it attributed to “humans” or “man-kind.” I have two things to complain about right away with this idea and/or paper. Firstly, why does everything have to be attributed to “humans?” Is it in it own right to exist because of what it is? Why do “we” have to put a value on it for it to exist? Is it because the general public is too “un-educated” or “capitalistic” to understand it in any other way? Secondly, we are suppose to get this message out to the general public so that they can understand. How can we, as “scientist,” get messages out to the general public when they will not understand the jargon presented, as in this paper?

The general take home message of this paper is to have a better understanding on how to manage the relationship dynamics between human and the ecosystem that we rely on (Carpenter et al. 2009). Some of the feedbacks that were highlighted were: (i) ecosystems processes and landscape structure, (ii) provisioning and cultural ecosystem services, and (iii) human well being; and they can be looked at through three different view: local, regional and global. These are driven on both drivers on the spatial scale and time.



I found the amount of detail in "feedbacks," "drivers" and other factors sort of ridiculous. This could have been a much simpler paper (going into my second complaint above). I almost gave up, but I gave it a second (and now I found a third) chance and read it through a couple of times.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I should be writing more...

Tuning into Headline News, like I do every morning, to catch up on things that I should really involve myself with, but tend not to because I find myself to involved with my own research. Around a week or so ago, I was appalled to hear that the federal government is considering making obesity a disability. It was a short news blip and now I cannot find news on it searching the internet. Think of it, Americans are obese enough as it is; if they would make it a law, what kind of exploitation would come of it? American’s idea of consume, consume, consume would be pushed even farther. More on this later when I have a chance…

Sorry aboot my short sabbatical away from this, I promise to wrote more in the future!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

DRIVERS: Watch Out for Cyclist

We have EQUAL rights to the road. Don't honk at us, don't cut us off, and above all, keep aware if us. And CYCLIST, effing obey all street laws: stop at stop signs and lights, don't blow through them. The next time I see one of you doing that, I'll put by hand pump through your front spokes!



Here is an old video...but a good one:



Cheers,

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Something that has been bothering me for a week...

A week ago, on April 01, 2009, a few colleagues and I went out for drinks at the local establishment (The Inn just down the road from Pearson Hall on campus). There were about 9 of us there talking about the normal stuff that is talked about when us scientist are drinking a couple of tasty brews. One of us started talking about over-population and how it needs to be controlled. A comment was said (which I am not going to repeat and not going to say who said it) that was sort of harsh, and I agreed with it. The fact that I agreed with it is because population growth is out of control and technological improvements in third-world countries is causing greater harm to the environment that could ever be expected. Later in the conversation, we were interrupted by a passer by. He was a fellow student (because we all had name tags on and his said that he was from the Physics Department) and he blatantly interjected his opinion into the conversation. The conversation got heated and people, colleagues of our, got up and left. Our conversations continued down the road of over population and then changed into a debate on degradation of the earth. We were headed that way as it was and that was the reason that this conversation came up. It was a nice sunny day almost in the 80s. April 1 is not really supposed to be that way, especially in the Midwest (Southwest Ohio). The passer by was on the stance that, from what I got, that we are more important than other organisms. Everything that we did as humans was “natural.” He used as example that, there is no difference in using a stick as a spear and molding metal into a gun to hunt. They were both “natural.” Everything we did to the earth is supposed to happen because earth is supposed to evolve and not be stable equilibrium. We were to “evolve” and force climate to change. He saw that as “natural.”


What he thought is that humans, as the top predator, has total control and if were to die off then another species will be dominant and do the same. Listening to him made me finally realize what other people think. To finally understand this is scary. He is obviously educated, going to Miami University and most likely a graduate student, because professors and graduate students are the only people to know about CLEP and drink free drinks. He is not educated enough on the issues that what we are doing is not natural evolution of the planet. What we are doing is destroying everything and we are actually causing our own extinction (not before we cause everything else to go extinct first). And he is okay with this. Reflect on this…


Are we supposed to use up every resource and deplete everything that is out there? We are on the though that technology will save us. What is actually happening is technology is killing us. We are coming up with new way stay global and continue to expand. When we use up one resource (i.e., oil) we only find another one to replace it (i.e., biofuel). We are making halide chemicals that are released into the atmosphere that are 17,000 times the strength of carbon dioxide on global warming. Currently, we don’t know that concentration of them in the atmosphere and the residence time for halide to break down is 550 years. We are not to slow down, we Americans are to consume everything (I could be going a little off track here). How can we get people to finally understand that what we are doing is wrong and that we aren’t just “liberal elitist” (I just heard this term used to describe anyone that drives a Toyota Prius). I don’t know, maybe it is too late and we are already past the tipping point.


This was bothering me and I just want other people to reflect on this…

Friday, March 27, 2009

Images that make you think...

Click on picture to read journal article.


This is a picture of the polar ice cap as September 2007. The figure also gives you the boundaries in three different time periods. In the graph at the bottom of the figure, it gives the rate of melting. The rate has a sudden increase as of 2007. When the ice cap melts, it reflects less solar radiation and more is absorbed by the oceans. This absorption is a feedback that melts more ice, so the rate continues to increase.


Another frightening thing is the increase of greenhouse gases (GHG), mostly attributed to carbon dioxide.




Historically, the concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest that it has ever been. Doubter of global warming tells us it is a cycle. It is a cycle, but humans have influenced it so much that at the last peak the concentration of carbon dioxide was 325 parts-per-million (ice cores estimates from 100-millions years ago), now it is at 380 parts-per-million, far exceeding anything throughout geological history. Ten-time more rapid than geological changes!



Reflect on this for a while to see what we are doing

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sigma Xi Grant Proposal

The Roles of Natural and Semi-Natural Habitats in the Biodiversity of Beneficial Insects in Agricultural Landscapes.


Increased demands for food, livestock and biofuels have led to agricultural intensification and reductions in natural and semi-natural habitats that provide plant pollinators and natural enemies of insect pests with nectar, prey, and nesting resources. Connectivity between natural habitats in agricultural landscapes is thought to enhance the diversity of beneficial insects. Land-use practices that retain natural and semi-natural habitats may therefore support a high species diversity and abundance of beneficial insects, and the ecosystem services they provide.


Species diversity is important to community recovery following a disturbance (i.e., planting, spraying, or harvesting), especially for beneficial insects with limited dispersal abilities. Natural and semi-natural habitats provide structural complexity that supports larger populations and higher between-patch (beta) diversity of beneficial insects. Beta diversity provides “insurance” that the loss of function with a decline of one species will be replaced by a functionally similar species, therefore buffering against agricultural disturbance. In the Midwest US, marginal lands planted with perennial vegetation under the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) may provide important ecosystem services beyond erosion control and wildlife habitat. My proposed research will examine whether these ecosystem services also include a diversity of beneficial insects.


I will test three hypotheses: (1) the size and connectivity of semi-natural CRP habitats determines the within-patch (alpha) diversity and between-patch (beta) diversity of pollinators and natural enemies, with larger, more connected areas; (2) the relative amount of intensive (row crops) and extensive (pastures/meadows) land uses will influence the diversity, abundance, and species composition of beneficial insects; and (3) CRP plantings with warm season vs. cool season grasses affects the diversity of beneficial insects. I predict landscapes with larger, more connected natural and semi-natural habitats will have higher alpha and beta diversity of beneficial insects, and that native warm-season plantings will support a higher diversity of beneficial than cool-season grasslands.


My research will focus CRP habitats at 20 locations in 30 km2 of southwest OH. Sites are 2-20 ha in size and planted in either cool- or warm-season grasses and forbs. At each site, 3 x 5 grids of combined flight intercept/pan traps will be used to sample beneficial insects. Pollard walks will be used to estimate butterfly diversity, and transects will be used to sample plant species composition and flower availability. Trap samples will be sorted into bees (Apidae), flower visiting flies (Syrphidae and Calliphoridae), generalist predators (spiders, beetles, and true bugs), and parasitic Hymenoptera. Digital orthophotos, Landsat imagery, and GIS will be used to quantify the size and arrangement of surrounding land-use types at several radial distances around each site. I will use general linear mixed models and multivariate ordinations to determine how the species richness and abundance of pollinators and natural enemies vary with plant species composition, habitat area and connectivity of CRP land, and surrounding land uses.


My study will increase our understanding of the ecosystem services provided by semi-natural areas in agricultural landscapes, and inform landowners and agencies (USDA – NRCS) on CRP of land-use practices that promote the abundance and diversity of beneficial insects.



References:
Bianchi, F. J. J. A., Booij, C. J. H., and Tscharntke, T. 2006. Sustainable pest regulation in agricultural landscapes: a review on landscape composition, biodiversity and natural pest control. Proc. of the R. Soc. 273, 1715-1727

Clough, Y., Holzschuh, A., Gabriel, D., Purtauf, T., Kleijn, D., Kruess, A., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Tscharntke, T. 2007. Alpha and beta diversity of anthropods and plants in organically and conventional managed wheat fields. J. of Appl. Ecol. 44, 804-812

Holzschuh, A., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Kleijn, D., and Tscharntke, T. 2007. Diversity of flower-visiting bees in cereal fields: effects of farming system, landscape composition and regional context. J of Appl. Ecol. 44, 41-49

Kremen, C., Williams, N. M., and Thorp, R. W. 2002. Crop pollinaton from native bees at risk from agricultural intensification. Proc. Nat. Aced. Sci. 99, 16812-16816

Kremen, C., Williams, N. M., Bugg, R. L., Fay, J. P., and Thorp, R. W. 2004. The area requirement of an ecosystem service: crop pollination by native bee communities in California. Ecol. Lett. 7, 1109-1119

Kremen, C., Williams, M.N., Aizen, M.A., Gemmill-Herren, B., LeBuhn, G., Minckley, R., Packer, L., Potts, S.G., Roulston, T., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Vázquez, D. P., Winfree, R., Adams, L., Greenleaf, S. S., Keitt, T. H., Klein, A., Regtz, J., and Ricketts, T. H. 2007. Pollination and other ecosystem services produced by mobile organism: a conceptual framework for the effects of land-use change. Ecol. Lett. 10, 299-314

Ricketts, T. H., Regetz, J., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Cunningham, S. A., Kremen, C., Bogdanski, A., Gennill-Herren, B., Greenfield, S. S., Klien A. M., Mayfield, M. M., Morandin, L. A., Ochieng, A., Viana, B. 2008. Landscape effects on crop pollination services: are these general patterns? Ecol. Lett. 11, 499-515

Tscharntke, T., Bommarco, R., Clough, Y., Crist, T. O., Kleijn, D., Rand, T. a., Tylianakis, J. M., van Nouhuys, S., and Vidal, S. 2007. Conservation biological control and enemy diversity on a landscape scale. Biol. Cont. 43, 294-309

Vollhardt, I. M. G., Tschartke, T., Wäckers, F. L., Bianchi, F. J. J. A., Theis, C. 2008. Diversity of cereal aphid parasitiod in simple and complex landscapes. Agri., Ecos., and Envi. 126, 289-292

Winfree, R., Williams N. M., Gaines, H., Ascher, J. S., and Kremen, C. 2008. Wild bee pollinators provide the majority of crop visitation across land-use gradients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, USA. J. of Appl. Ecol. 45, 793-802

Yanchi, S. and Loreau M. 1999. Biodiversity an ecosystem productivity on a fluctuating environment: the insurance hypothesis. Proc. Nat. Aced. Sci. 96, 1463-1498

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stop thinking of alternative fuels and start thinking of conservation

As of lately, all I hear is that we need to have a source of energy that is sustainable and not reliable on foreign oil. A new source that we need to use that is clean. A source or energy that has little impact on the environment. We are exploring for new sources of energy, wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear, etc., that we can use instead of oil. I also hear that we don’t need to rely on other countries and we can drill for oil off of our coast or have little impact and drill in pristine habitat. What I don’t hear is conservation. Let’s stop. With our exploration of alternative fuels, we don’t see how they still impact our climate.

Bio-fuels: What a bad idea. First off, for us to grow corn, soy beans, switch grass, etc. we need land that is not already in production for food. One of the worst ideas was to take our food source and make it into a source of energy. That alone has drove up the price of food. Alone almost everything has high fructose corn syrup in it. So instead, we clear lands to make them able for production. When clear lands of natural habitat, this releases carbon that we try to sequester back into the atmosphere. By one estimate, Searchinger et al. (2008) found that by using corn-base ethanol, instead of producing a 20% saving in greenhouse gas, it nearly doubles it over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. This “bio-fuel carbon debt” releases 17 to 420 times more carbon dioxide that the annual greenhouse gas reduction that these bio-fuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels (Fargione et al. 2008).

Hydropower: Today, by estimate, there are at least 75,000 dams in U.S. rivers alone. These dams stop the flood pulses that rivers require to be healthy. Dams stop natural migration of fish. Behind dams, lie sediments and decaying organic matter that releases methane, another greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere (Giles 2006). So, instead of harnessing water for power, it impacts the environments in different ways.

Nuclear: As of December 31, 2007, there are 104 commercial nuclear power generators in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). For us to make nuclear power we need to mine radioactive ore and once the ore has depleted in the reactor it becomes waste. Mining ore from the earth pollutes the land and nearby streams and getting rid of the radioactive waste is highly problematic. Where do we put it? One solution is to bury deep down under a mountain. Is that the best that they can come up with?

Solar: This is a great idea, except that we have to mine for elements that are found in solar cells that harness the suns energy. Of all of these, I can see this as one that doesn’t impact the environment as much as others, but it still does.

Wind: Again, you need to material to build windmills that will last and that requires mining or stripping the land. Then there is the issue of visual or noise pollution and interfering with song-bird migration, which is a federal offense and protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that decreed that all migratory birds and their parts (including eggs, nests, and feathers) were fully protected. But again, I see this is one that doesn’t impacts the environment as much as others.

From what I see, there is no answer to our problem. For mor information on official energy statistic from the U.S. government, visit the EIA website. Conservation is our only answer. Instead of being reliant on things that require sources outside of your area, make a change so that you can get everything that you need from inside of your community. This is the change that is needed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Too many and not enough

As of July, 2008, according to the CIA, the world population is now over 6 billion people and by 2012 we will reach another milestone of 7 billion. Of that, China has the most settling in at 1.3 billion followed behind by India (1.1 billion) and the U.S. (305 million). Some nations (Monaco) are so crowded that that they have almost 17,000 people per square km (for all those Americans that do not know the metric system that would be approximately 1/3 of a mile squared). Those numbers are astounding, who would think that there are that many people on earth. Now think of it in resources. How much grain does the world have to make to feed that many mouths? How many animals have to be domesticated then sent to slaughter to fulfill the needs of many? How many resources are we raping form earth to keep humans living? How many species are we causing to go extinct because we are selfish?


One thing that I find appalling is that Japan is letting their workers go home early to procreate. This is because that there population is declining with a birth rate of 1.34 well below that of 2.07, the amount of children that need to be born to replace the parents and to keep a population stable. I question why? I know that there has to be a base to keep the economy stable, but that imparts that the world population has to continue to grow. There has to be a point where it can’t grow anymore. There has to be a point where all the resources are gone and there in no more to take from the earth. Technology will not save us. What will eventually happen is that we, as a species, are so dumb is that we will cause our own extinction, but not before we kill everything else off. Sit back and reflect on that for a while…

Friday, January 16, 2009

Facts

I was wondering around a week ago on facebook and found something very interesting. If you want to see what the world would look like if it was shrunken down to a village of 100 or so, this is what it would look like. You should ponder the questions at the end of this .jpg file.



(click on image to enlarge)

To see more information, click here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stimulus what?

President elect Obama stimulus package, on top of creating a higher national debt, in not giving enough tax benefits towards alternative forms of energy. Firstly, the majority of the energy that is produced in America is coming from coal...a dirty source of energy, no matter what is advertised on the television. Here is a what clean coal looks like. Secondly, our debt makes it so that we borrow money from China, which is a country that tries to poison, uses children for slave labor and unnecessarily imprison people for numerous violations for acts that should be free.


Lets re-evaluate where all of our money is going first, then use some of that money to stimulate our economy. Let stop feeding nations with war (i.e., Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and use some of that money to create jobs. Our nation would be so more secure if we didn't occupy other countries unnecessarily. We try to force our ideas onto others that do not want it. For that we are hated...



Here is more on the subject.

Daily reads...

The thought of expanding technology and its impact on the environment has been a major concern in my mind. With new technology making new "stuff" and using more resources from this already stricken earth is disheartening. Mining for these resources has polluted our waterways and destroyed pristine natural habitat. The waste created is through technology is being tossed away into landfills. On US-27 south out of Oxford, OH, before entering Colerain, a business district before getting to Cincinnati, is the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill.




This is the view that I found as you travel north on US-27. The site is appalling. Almost 40% of waste is paper and I have read that 40% of that comes from businesses and corporations. Technology was supposed to cut down on waste be digitizing everything, but tons of waste is still generated. Most colleges has implemented ways to cut down on waste by recycling but what concerns me is the amount that is tossed into the recycling bins that is not recycled.


It has been said that technology will save us, but I am starting to doubt that. To know that other products has cut down on wastes is a light at the end of a tunnel (though the tunnel might be a hole that we are falling through and the light might be HELL) Getting back on topic, because my mind doesn't always follow a straight path, using computers to generate other forms of digital information has cut back on waste. Digitizing music into MP3 and putting them onto a device to listen to it instead of buying CDs in one thing. Also reading my morning news on slate.com on Green my Blog: The Best Way to Make a Web Site Energy Efficient has put hope back into society...somewhat. Lets try to do something about this. Lets not be a "throw away" generation and ultra consumer Americans. Lets try to create better places for future generations instead of making huge piles of waste for everyone to look at.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mini-proposal for master's thesis

Over the past decade, increases in industrial agriculture have caused rapid declines in insect biodiversity because of the simplification of the landscape through the enlargement of crop field sizes and reduction of non-crop habitat (Bianchi et al. 2006). Non-crop habitat is necessary for a wide diversity of insects, especially for pollinators and natural predators for crop pests (e.g., Kremen et al. 2002, Tscharntke et al. 2007, Ricketts et al 2008). Natural habitat is beneficial for pollinators by supplying a diversity of nectar sources and nesting habitat (Kremen et al. 2004, Winfree et al. 2008) and is also beneficial for natural predators by supplying alternative hosts and overwintering sites (Bianchi et al. 2006, Vollhardt et al. 2008). Landscape management in an agroecosystem is needed to keep insect biodiversity in these natural habitats.


Connectivity between natural habitat in a landscape (i.e., an agroecosystem) enhances both diversity of natural predators and pollinators because high proportions of non-crop habitats have a greater diversity of natural predators and pollinators (Bianchi et al. 2006, Holzscheh et al. 2007). The economic value of these natural habitats to crop production is poorly understood. Theorectically, if land management practices are influenced by positive feedback through market forces then agroecosystems will become presumably more heterogeneous (Kremen et al. 2007).


Agricultural practices that increase insect biodiversity through increasing landscape complexity (Vollhardt et al. 2008, Tscharnke et al. 2007) and reducing or elimating pesticide input, would also increase the numbers of pollinators and natural predators within an argoecosystems (e.g., Holzschuh et al. 2007, Kremen et al. 2007, Winfree et al. 2008). Total diversity (gamma) on the landscape level is the combination of both the diversity within (alpha) and between (beta) habitats or patches (Clough et al 2007, Tscharntke et al. 2007). Tscharntke et al. (2007) hypothesized that as landscapes became more complex (i.e., more heterogeneous), then gamma diversity would increase. Beta diversity contributes significantly to total diversity because high beta diversity carries benefits for biological control through promoting predator-prey or parasite host systems at larger spatial scales. Higher beta diversity allows exploitation of heterogeneous pest populations because different natural enemies species have different microhabitat preferences (Tscharntke et al. 2007).


Conservation of biological control and pollinators is dependant on heterogeneous landscapes because intensely used homogenous landscapes with low species pools is unable to recover after a disturbance. The more complex a landscape becomes the quicker and more likely it will recover (Tschantke et al. 2007). Populations from adjacent habitats provide spatiotemporal complexity that allows for populations of natural enemies and pollinators to build up (Bianchi et al. 2006). This insurance (Yachi and Loreau 1999) buffers against fluctuations in ecosystem functioning by supporting higher species richness in a landscape.


To provide for a diversity of pollinators, nesting materials and nectar sources are needed. Determining how pollinators’ foraging range is affected by limited resources in nesting sites and/or floral resources are important area to look at. Changes in landscape alter the searching behavior of pollinators and their natural enemies. Top-down vs. bottom-up forces on pollinator’s relative abundance is another important area that needs to be identified (Kremen et al. 2007).


It is important to look at conservation biology in the agroecosystem on the landscape level because most arthropods are affected by spatial scales larger than their plot level. In the surrounding landscape, the species pools are important for the conservation of natural enemies and pollinators during the recovery period of species after a disturbance, especially for poorly-dispersing insects and specialized enemies (e.g., Kremen et al. 2002, Bianchi et al. 2006, Tscharntke et al. 2007, Ricketts et al 2008). I will test two hypotheses in my thesis. The first is, as complexity of landscape increases, the total diversity (gamma) increases is affected by beta (between) habitat or patch diversity than alpha (within) habitat or patch diversity, leading to higher pest control and pollinator relative abundances. Second I will to test the hypothesis that because of the loss of non-crop habitat, bottom-up forces have a greater effect to the biodiversity of natural enemies and relative abundances of pollinators as natural habitat decreases. I predict that as the landscape becomes more homogenous, the diversity of natural enemies and relative abundances of pollinators decline because of shrinking of the natural habitat that is required for there survival.


Within Butler and Preble counties in Ohio, I will be doing my study on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Three-Valley Trust lands. CRP lands are part of the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) branch of the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA). The CRP provides assistance to farmers to address soil, water, and other related natural resources on their lands that will provide an environmental benefit to the lands in a cost-effective manner (Kremen et al. 2002). I will use a variety of techniques for collecting data, including a grid of combination pan/flight intercept traps, sweep sampling along transects within the interior and along edges of habitat patches, and patrolling fixed plots in a serpentine manner to estimate populations of butterflies, another common pollinator.


I will be using a number of tools to quantify biodiversity and abundances. Firstly, I will be using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to explain connectivity and variation in a landscape. I will take waypoints in the field using a Geographic Positioning System (GPS) and used land cover to explain the variation inside a landscape. Secondly, I will also be focusing on specific species of a pollinator, a herbivore and a natural predator and use different matrices to explain alpha-, beta-, and gamma-diversity.


I expect to show that with lesser landscape heterogeneity, that the biodiversity of natural predators and abundances of pollinators will decrease with less natural habitat. I would expect that this is an effect from the bottom up because lack of resources required for these species to persist (e.g., Kremen et al. 2002, Tscharntke et al. 2007, Ricketts et al 2008). I also expect to see that as habitat heterogeneity decreases that species turn-over of both natural predators and pollinators to decrease because of the decreasing effect of beta-diversity on the total diversity (Clough et al 2007, Tscharntke et al. 2007).


Bianchi, F. J. J. A, Booij, C. J. H., and Tscharntke, T. 2006. Sustainable pest regulation in agricultural landscapes: a review on landscape composition, biodiversity and natural pest control. Proc. of the R. Soc. 273, 1715-1727

Clough, Y, Holzschuh, A., Gabriel, D., Purtauf, T., Kleijn, D., Kruess, A., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Tscharntke, T. 2007. Alpha and beta diversity of anthropods and plants in organically and conventional managed wheat fields. J. of Appl. Ecol. 44, 804-812

Holzschuh, A., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Kleijn, D., and Tscharntke, T. 2007. Diversity of flower-visiting bees in cereal fields: effects of farming system, landscape composition and regional context. J of Appl. Ecol. 44, 41-49

Kremen, C. Williams, N. M., and Thorp, R. W. 2002. Crop pollination from native bees at risk from agricultural intensification. Proc. Nat. Aced. Sci. USA 99, 16812-16816

Kremen, C., Williams, N. M., Bugg, R. L., Fay, J. P., and Thorp, R. W. 2004. The area requirement of an ecosystem service: crop pollination by native bee communities in California. Ecol. Lett. 7, 1109-1119

Kremen, C., Williams, M.N., Aizen, M.A., Gemmill-Herren, B., LeBuhn, G., Minckley, R., Packer, L., Potts, S.G., Roulston, T., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Vázquez, D. P., Winfree, R., Adams, L., Greenleaf, S. S., Keitt, T. H., Klein, A., Regtz, J., and Ricketts, T. H. 2007. Pollination and other ecosystem services produced by mobile organism: a conceptual framework for the effects of land-use change. Ecol. Lett. 10, 299-314

Ricketts, T. H., Regetz, J., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Cunningham, S. A., Kremen, C., Bogdanski, A., Gennill-Herren, B., Greenfield, S. S., Klien A. M., Mayfield, M. M., Morandin, L. A., Ochieng, A., Viana, B. 2008. Landscape effects on crop pollination services: are these general patterns? Ecol. Lett. 11, 499-515

Tscharntke, T., Bommarco, R., Clough, Y., Crist, T. O., Kleijn, D., Rand, T. a., Tylianakis, J. M., van Nouhuys, S., and Vidal, S. 2007. Conservation biological control and enemy diversity on a landscape scale. Biol. Cont. 43, 294-309

Vollhardt, I. M. G., Tschartke, T., Wäckers, F. L., Bianchi, F. J. J. A., Theis, C. 2008. Diversity of cereal aphid parasitiod in simple and complex landscapes. Agri., Ecos., and Envi. 126, 289-292

Winfree, R., Williams N. M., Gaines, H., Ascher, J. S., and Kremen, C. 2008. Wild bee pollinators provide the majority of crop visitation across land-use gradients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, USA. J. of Appl. Ecol. 45, 793-802

Yanchi, S. and Loreau M. 1999. Biodiversity an ecosystem productivity on a fluctuating environment: the insurance hypothesis. Proc. Nat. Aced. Sci. USA 96, 1463-1498

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

life till now

What can I say? It has been a long winding road that I have been on with a lot of hills; some of them steep that it seems impossible to surmount...but somehow I manage. I have way to many things in my life going on at once, and I want more. Graduate school is kicking my ass, but somehow I managed a B and B+ in the two classes. My research is stagnant and seems to lead nowhere. Hopefully that will change once I get into the field. So what can I say up to now?

This is my first post to this site. I want to write to open peoples eyes to everything that is going on in this world that is wrong. I hope that other will help me. Global change. War. Destruction. Over-consumption. My graduate thesis follows some of these topics. I hope to post more and will because I will make time for this. I will be more structured.

My graduate thesis is on increasing in industrial agricultural and how it effects insect biodiversity and pollinator abundances. I am concern about pollinators, because they produce the fruit and vegetables that we consume. Once the honeybees are gone because of the sudden colony collapse, we loose the major pollinators. We still have other pollinators (e.g., true flies and other bees and wasps), but they are not as good. It is all because of homogeneous fields of corn, which is wind pollinated. The big fields of monocropping cuts back the natural habitat that other insects need for alternative food sources and nesting. This all comes back into the who over-consumptions of humans, especially Americans.

I hope to make this site as a basis of discussion for a lot of these topics, and I will promote this as much as I can as well as my friends site Under the Concrete. Let see if I can get this started...