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2017

Forest experts: All signs point to a banner year for Pa.'s foliage display
September 15, 2017
The rainy summer in Pennsylvania has set the stage for what could be an awesome autumn foliage display.
More research needed on effects of maternal stress in wild animals
August 31, 2017
Prenatal exposure to maternal stress in animals can influence offspring characteristics and behaviors and there are an increasing number of ecological studies linking biomedical findings to natural systems, according to Michael Sheriff, assistant professor of mammalogy and ecology.
Wood frogs research clarifies risks posed to animals by warming climate
August 19, 2017
As conditions warm, fish and wildlife living at the southern edge of their species' ranges are most at risk, according to Penn State researchers who led a major collaborative study of how wood frogs are being affected by climate change.
Pennsylvania snowshoe hares differ from those in Yukon
August 1, 2017
Snowshoe hares in Pennsylvania — at the southern end of the species' range — show adaptations in fur color and characteristics, behavior and metabolism, to enable them to survive in less wintry conditions than their far northern relatives, according to a team of researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Researchers working with sports venues to make them 'greener,' sustainable
July 11, 2017
Attaining the goal of sending no materials to landfills after sporting events -- instead composting some refuse left by crowds and recycling the rest -- is as much a challenge of changing the culture and behavior of the fans as it is developing new, biodegradable packaging and eating utensils, according to Judd Michael, professor in the departments of Ecosystem Science and Management and Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
Student receives grant for research into black bear impact on agriculture
July 8, 2017
Alec Baker has had a lifelong interest and passion for the outdoors and its inhabitants, especially black bears. This passion set the Clarion native on a path to enroll in the wildlife technology degree program at Penn State DuBois, and eventually led him to earn the Erickson Discovery Grant from Penn State's Office of Undergraduate Education.
Researchers studying impact of warming conditions on woodland salamanders
June 19, 2017
David Munoz, doctoral degree candidate in ecology, and Dr. David Miller, assistant professor of wildlife population ecology, are spearheading a four-year-old collaborative effort to assess the impact of a warming climate on the Eastern red-backed salamander, a creature that lives on or under the forest floor.
Decades-long American chestnut restoration efforts show progress
June 14, 2017
Sara Fitzsimmons, research technician in ecosystem science and management, and Kim Steiner, professor of forest biology, talk about the progress and challenges of restoring the American chestnut in Eastern forests.
Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit honored by U.S. Geological Survey
June 12, 2017
The Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has received the Excellence of Science Award from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Record 83 undergraduates receive 2017 Erickson Discovery Grants
June 12, 2017
Among the 219 students who applied, 83 from across Penn State’s campuses will each be awarded a $3,500 Erickson Discovery Grant for summer 2017. Included are —Alec Baker, WFS, "Timing and Impact of Habitat Type on Black Bear (Ursus Americanus) Corn Crop Damage," working with Ms. Keely Roen, instructor in wildlife technology — Jennifer Heppner, WFS, "Effects of Maternal Stress in Offspring Performance Speed in the Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus),"working with Dr. Michael Sheriff, assistant professor of mammalogy and ecology — Richard Novak, WFS, "A Comparison of Macro-Invertebrate Communities Among Vernal Pools with Different Fire Histories," working with Dr. Margot Kaye, associate professor of forest ecology — Ana Turosky, ESOIL minor, "Does Glyphosate Affect Beneficial Soil Microbes?," working with Dr. Mary Ann Bruns, associate professor of soil science/microbial ecology.
Ag Sciences student completes prescribed fire experience at Fort Indiantown Gap
June 9, 2017
Francis Alvaré, a Penn State forest ecosystem management major with a minor in military studies, assisted the National Guard's forestry department in a series of prescribed fires on training facilities as part of an independent study program in the spring of 2017.
Penn State Arboretum provides beautiful place for students and visitors year-round
June 7, 2017
Kim Steiner, professor of forest biology and director of the Arboretum, Kate Reeder, Arboretum marketing and events coordinator, and Patrick Williams, Arboretum development director, talk about the Arboretum's current features and future plans.
From brook trout to walleyes, warming waters to play havoc with fisheries
June 5, 2017
A few degrees, on average, can make a huge difference in lakes and streams as aquatic species struggle to compete and in some cases survive, and that's why a warming climate is of concern to fisheries managers.
Research focuses on reclaiming strip-mine sites for biofuel crop production
May 26, 2017
Rick Stehouwer, professor of environmental soil science, and John Carlson, professor of molecular genetics, collaborated with Marvin Hall Hall, professor of forage management in the Department of Plant Science, on a strip-mine reclamation research project.
Chronic wasting disease research with deer in Pennsylvania becomes more crucial
May 24, 2017
The recent announcement by the Pennsylvania Game Commission that it found 25 more wild deer with chronic wasting disease last year underlines the importance of studies being conducted by a team of researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Grant aimed at solving agricultural water issues through community engagement
May 19, 2017
A group of institutions led by Penn State has received nearly $2.2 million for the first year of a planned four-year, $5 million project aimed at developing a model for engaging communities and stakeholders to ensure adequate supplies of good-quality water both for and from agriculture. The project's management team includes Jack Watson, professor of soil physics and biogeochemistry.
American chestnut rescue will succeed, but slower than expected
May 16, 2017
The nearly century-old effort to employ selective breeding to rescue the American chestnut, which has been rendered functionally extinct by an introduced disease — Chestnut blight — eventually will succeed, but it will take longer than many people expect.
Ag Sciences graduate students win prestigious research fellowships
May 1, 2017
Ismaiel Szink, a doctoral student in the intercollege graduate degree program in ecology, will use his fellowship to support research on tree roots and their exudates, which are compounds released by roots into surrounding soil. "Ismaiel is examining how roots and associated mycorrhizal fungi can influence weathering at the Susquehanna-Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory," noted his adviser David Eissenstat, professor of woody plant physiology.
If some hemlock trees can just hang on, birds that need them may be OK
May 1, 2017
"Using the unique approach of examining the same hemlock stands both before and after degradation by the hemlock woolly adelgid, we found that hemlock decline drove changes in vegetation structure and bird communities," explains Matt Toenies, a master's degree student in Penn State's intercollege graduate degree program in ecology
Penn State graduate student turns bird-watching passion into research for ecology's master program
April 26, 2017
David Miller, associate professor of wildlife population ecology, and his master's degree advisee, Matt Toenies, talk about Toenies' research on how hemlock decline is affecting bird species.
Cover crops may be used to mitigate and adapt to climate change
April 21, 2017
Climate-change mitigation and adaptation may be additional, important ecosystem services provided by cover crops, said Jason Kaye, professor of soil biogeochemistry in the College of Agricultural Sciences. He suggested that the climate-change mitigation potential of cover crops is significant, comparable to other practices, such as no-till.
Shale gas threat to forests can be eased by consolidating infrastructure
April 21, 2017
Fragmentation of ecologically important core forests within the northern Appalachians — driven by pipeline and access road construction — is the major threat posed by shale-gas development, according to researchers, who recommend a change in infrastructure-siting policies to head off loss of this critical habitat.
What's to blame for the surge in Lyme disease?
April 12, 2017
Marc Abrams, professor of forest ecology and physiology, explains the role that acorns and other mast play in boosting populations of deer and mice, the most common hosts for the ticks that carry Lyme disease.
Stone Valley trees harvested for Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center expansion project
April 11, 2017
Finding the value in a fishing license
April 6, 2017
Judd Michael, Penn State professor of business management for natural resources industries, and several students seeking master’s degrees in business have been studying fishing licenses and anglers for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Their ultimate goal is to develop a business plan that the agency can use to help it connect with its customers.
Researchers investigating status of goldenseal in Pennsylvania
March 31, 2017
Funded by a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are conducting an 18-month study of the forest herb goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) in Pennsylvania.
Picture this: Trail cams used to monitor predators of deer fawns
March 27, 2017
Gaining a better understanding of fawn survival and predators was part of the motivation for research that began in 2015. As a part of that study, a researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is deploying cameras, called trail cams, in Penn's Woods, using a novel technique called camera trapping to gauge numbers and distribution of predators.
Penn State Mont Alto to host 16th annual Mid-Atlantic Woodsmen’s Meet
March 23, 2017
On April 8, the best collegiate lumberjacks and lumberjills in the region will converge on Penn State Mont Alto to compete in the 16th annual Mid-Atlantic Woodsmen’s Meet and the Stihl Timbersports Collegiate Series Mid-Atlantic Qualifier ― a preliminary event to the U.S. Collegiate Championships on July 30. The event is open to the public and free of charge; spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
Ecologist Eissenstat receives Black Award for research accomplishments
March 1, 2017
David Eissenstat, professor of ecosystem management and woody plant physiology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and chair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Penn State was awarded the Jessie C. Black Award for Excellence in Research.
Penn State forest economist helping to propel African croton biofuel effort
February 20, 2017
Africa and agroforestry — defined as agriculture that incorporates the cultivation and conservation of trees — are in Penn State professor Michael Jacobson's blood, and the combination has helped shape his career. In turn, the forest economist has played an important role in launching a tree-based biofuel initiative that has major implications for the continent and its millions of subsistence farmers.
SciTech Now - Wood Collection
February 9, 2017
Long forgotten, a wood collection at Penn State is getting a second look. Chuck Ray, associate professor of wood products operations, is dedicating his time to organizing it and unlocking its secrets to help advance science.
David Eissenstat Elected ESA Fellow
February 8, 2017
David M. Eissenstat, professor of woody plant physiology, was elected Ecological Society of America fellow for major contributions towards understanding belowground processes and interactions among plants, microbes, environmental factors, and agricultural practices.
Stressed snakes strike first
January 4, 2017
Whether a wild cottonmouth snake will attempt to strike in an encounter depends on its baseline stress level, according to a team of scientists led by undergraduate researcher Mark Herr, who completed the Wildlife and Fisheries Science baccalaureate degree in 2016.
Research suggests climate change affecting plants above ground more than below
January 4, 2017
Shifts in plant-growth patterns have been widely reported in response to global warming, and it is well documented that warming generally advances aboveground plant growth, noted Laura Radville, a doctoral candidate in ecology advised by David Eissenstat, professor of woody plant physiology. But warming's influence on root phenology is unclear.