Felicia Keesing of Bard and Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies write in the current issue of Science that indeed biodiversity seems to reduce the incidence of infectious diseases by reducing the hosts needed by pathogens. Ostfeld has been studying Lyme disease and found that a healthy biodiversity reduces the host carriers of the disease.  Their article also cites studies performed by Dr. Barbara Han, mentioned elsewhere in TMI.  The article is here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6245/235.short

Bill Schlesinger's Blog

July 15- Ever wonder what happens to all the stuff that we put in the atmosphere—gases like ammonia, particles of soot, and other materials, some natural and some as pollutants? These are deposited from the atmosphere, usually downwind of the source, by either wet-deposition—a fancy word for rainfall—or dry deposition. Dry deposition includes the gravitational settling of large particles as well as the reaction of some gases, like ammonia, with plant leaves and other materials on the Earth’s surface.

   'Two generations of Garter Snakes enjoying the morning sun. This harmless snake is common throughout North America.' - Dianne 
 Dianne Engleke is an artist, photographer and naturalist living in beautiful Dutchess County, NY.

This article is written by a TMI Intern 

July 14- Last Friday, zoologist Roland Kays of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences addressed a packed auditorium at Millbrook’s Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.  The researcher discussed the ways that coyotes, fishers, and other animals have adapted to urban environments. Kays, a professor at North Carolina State University and a curator at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, has been studying the activity of animals in urban and nonurban  environments in the Mid-Atlantic region, working alongside researchers from the Smithsonian Institute and North Carolina State University. Their findings evoke a pressing question: are humans leaving enough room for animals? 

A discussion on woodland stewardship

July 12- Landowners from Westchester, Putnam parts of Dutchess convened on Sunday, July 12 at the Akin Library in Pawling,  to meet neighbors, share stories about their land and confer with foresters and other experts about how to work with their woodlands.

These forums, called the “Woods Forums,” are taking place all over New York and New England with federal forestry grants.

Ron Frisbee, a natural resource educator from Cornell in Delaware County facilitated the discussion and Kara Hartigan Whelan of the Westchester Land Trust brought together all the other land trusts and nature groups, including Putnam County Land Trust, Oblong Land Conservancy, Friends of the Great Swamp, Bedford Audubon and the Housatonic Valley Association.

Bill Schlesinger's Blog

July 9- As I walk along the shore of our property in Maine, I am astounded at the amount of human debris that washes up on the beach. Nylon rope and plastic bottles dominate the flotsam, but bottle caps are probably the most numerous item.  And every now and again, I encounter one of the large plastic crates that fishermen use to bring their catch to market.  My wife and I clean up the beach a couple of times a year, and we never come back empty-handed.

We live in a fishing village, so perhaps we have a larger than average dose of plastic washing down our bay to the sea. But, evidence suggests that plastic pollution of the seas is a global problem.  A recent study reported that every day 4.1 tons of plastic washes down the Danube, Europe’s second largest river, to the Black Sea.  In the Danube, more than 300 plastic particles are found per 1000 m3 of river water. The weight of these plastic particles exceeds that of larval fishes in the same volume.  Human debris in the river exceeds nature’s productivity.

Bill Schlesinger's Blog

July 9-When you buy organically grown vegetables, you expect that they have been produced without the use of artificial (industrial) fertilizer and pesticides. And, you expect that they are not derived from genetically modified seeds (GMOs). For organic meats, you further expect that they were grown without hormones and antibiotics. A recent scientific review suggests that the nutritional benefits of organic foods are minimal.  Nevertheless, many folks will pay considerably more for such products, believing that they are good for us. I suspect you would have to look pretty deep to find someone who would suggest otherwise. 

Beyond the value of the product, organic farming also results in greater contents of soil organic matter compared to conventional fields. Thus, organic farming can be expected to help mitigate the impacts of global warming, because it stores carbon in soils that would otherwise be carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.