June 29, 2018
Mississippi River Crisis Also Offers Opportunity
Photo by Stuart Rankin/flickr
A complex set of pressing management concerns is driving a shift in the ways that science and management are coupled in the Mississippi River Delta region and how they provide feedback to inform each other. This shift has its origins in a decades-long effort to understand and restore the Mississippi River Delta, but the management concerns that are driving the design of model-intensive scientific research campaigns have brought the issue to the fore.

New and evolving concerns include maintaining shipping and commerce in the Mississippi River, restoring habitats in the river’s delta, providing protection from river floods and storm surges, reducing the effects of hypoxia (oxygen depletion) in the waters along the continental shelf, and recovering from the BP Deepwater Horizon  oil spill .

Science and management partnerships on the Mississippi provide a model for research and management that can be applied to deltas and coasts worldwide. Holistically addressing these concerns requires the best science available and, as such, has created new opportunities for research. 
The Monarch’s Migration is Full of Peril
By Kate Furby/The Washington Post
Photo by Suzanne Schroeter/flickr
Life is hard for the modern American butterfly. Monarch butterflies, the iconic American insect, are declining in North America, and scientists are scrambling to uncover the mystery of their disappearance during their thousands of miles of migration.

In an  analysis  in Science, researchers analyze the threats to the famous butterfly’s survival. They conclude that the problem lies in the dangers of migration. Each year, the butterflies spend the winter in Mexico, and then in the spring travel north thousands of miles through the United States and Canada, and back again in the fall. But it’s not individual butterflies that make the journey. It’s a  multigenerational relay race , and it’s fraught with terrors.

The authors find that the greatest declines for monarchs may be occurring during their winters in Mexico and the following migration north to the Texas and Gulf States. Migration mortality, as it’s called, is creating a disconnect between the large numbers of monarchs produced in the United States and Canada and the smaller numbers reported in Mexico.
Fire Killed 113,000 Square Miles of Forests in 2017
Photo by shankar s./flickr
Burning of forests to make way for farms from the Amazon to the Congo basin caused a loss of global tree cover amounting to an area almost the size of Italy in 2017, an independent forest monitoring network said on Wednesday.

Tree cover loss, mostly in the tropics, totaled 113,000 square miles last year, just short of a record set in 2016, according to Global Forest Watch, run by the U.S.-based World Resources Institute (WRI).

"Tropical forests were lost at a rate equivalent to 40 football fields per minute" in 2017, Frances Seymour, of the WRI, told a news conference.

Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Madagascar and Malaysia suffered the biggest losses in 2017, it said, based on satellite data. The study omits, however, how far tree plantings or new growth offset the losses.
In the Wild City, Young People Find a Passion for Birding
By Penelope Green/The New York Times
Photo by James LeVeque/flickr
Younger urban birders are the new faces in the birding world. They use social media to track their ornithological marks, with digital assists from apps like  Ibird  or  Merlin and websites like  ebird  — the data collection site run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology — which have replaced old-fashioned Sibley guides to aid in identification (though  Sibley has an app, too ). They are drawn in by the visual seductions of Instagram, as well as a desire for community inflected by environmentalism. As Jonathan Franzen, still the literary world’s most famous birder, discovered, many soon find that without the structure of birding, “the stimulations of nature,” as Mr. Franzen wrote in  “My Bird Problem,”  his coming-out-as-a-birder essay in The New Yorker, remain “stubbornly theoretical.”

They also keep up to date with Twitter, now abuzz with local bird alerts. David Barrett, 54, a hedge fund manager turned computer scientist, is the creator of  several  of New York City’s Twitter  bird   alerts , marvels of near instantaneous crowdsourced data. He is also the author of the birding memoir  “A Big Manhattan Year,”  in which he detailed his 2012 battle with Andrew Farnsworth, a noted ornithologist and  birding record setter , to see the most species in a single year.
Why I’m Teaching My Daughters to Hunt
By Brian Sexton/High Country News
Photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife/flickr
When I talk to people about how I’ve been slowly introducing my daughters, now 3 and 5, to hunting, a common reaction is that I must really long to have a boy. Why else would I subject my girls to “manly” pursuits like killing big game?

I was introduced to hunting early, and vividly recall hanging around my dad, older brother and uncles as they cleaned ducks in the garage. I remember the  thwap  sound that a goose heart would make hitting the garage floor when it was thrown to my brother’s tomcat. I can smell the gunpowder after I shot my first pheasant in a grain field at the age of 9.

We didn’t rely on the meat for food like some of my friends’ families, but I recall feeling some kind of primal longing to place myself in uncomfortable situations in search of game. By the age of 8, I had my own BB gun and would ride my bike to the nearby alfalfa fields to shoot dirt clods and the occasional unwary ground squirrel. The sense of independence and responsibility this developed in me was invaluable as I grew up, and I want the girls to build that kind of strength as well.
“A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers.” 

-- - Aldo Leopold

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