Students in a Northern Arizona University undergraduate conservation biology class have been studying impacts of a prolific bison herd near the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The class, started about 12 years ago by ecology professor Thomas Sisk, gives students the opportunity to do field research and contribute to land policy decisions. Grand Canyon National Park officials are in the process of creating an environmental impact statement for managing bison.
In 1906, Charles “Buffalo” Jones brought a herd of bison to northern Arizona to breed with cattle, thinking the offspring would produce a superior animal. A few years later, after a lackluster result, Jones sold off the bison he could capture and abandoned approximately 20 animals.
Since then, the herd has grown to an estimated 400, more than four times the optimum number for maintaining balanced ecosystems. Bison have trampled archaeological sites, affected water resources and damaged native plants through overgrazing and reducing plant diversity.
“The basic quality of the meadow ecosystems is changing because of grazing and some plants aren’t growing anymore,” said Lindsey Close. The environmental sciences major and her classmates spent multiple days camping working at the North Rim, evaluating plants and soils in areas populated by bison.
In addition to employing skills she learned in the classroom and laboratory to address a real-life environmental concern, Close said she learned a lot about the complexity of land management. To avoid being hunted, the herd travels to the national park, but the animals also live on state and forest service lands, with separate policies relating to managing bison.
Professor Robert Sanford said the opportunity for students to understand land management complexities is a valuable lesson in addition to learning the science. “It is a little bit rare that we are able to build experiential learning into our labs with the output of a true application. Students also have the exceptional opportunity to work in groups across multiple agencies and with different people and personalities,” Sanford said.
Martha Hahn, chief of science and resource management at Grand Canyon National Park, said her department is analyzing the student’s research. “The outcome of that analysis will be incorporated during the process of designing alternatives for the environmental impact statement,” Hahn said.
Public Affairs Coordinator
Theresa Bierer | newswise
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy