We have put together a special page for pollinator specific resources! This page points farmers, other scientists, and anyone interested in pollinator protection to a collection of resources available both online, and in text that can help YOU protect our bees!
Two papers, written by Gratton lab members, were recently accepted. Both are modeling papers that use GIS to examine the causes and consequences of land-use change.
In Tim and Claudio’s paper, they model tradeoffs of multiple ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration, nitrous oxide emissions, pest control, and pollination) from converting annual cropping systems to perennial energy crops (“Ecosystem-service tradeoffs associated with switching from annual to perennial energy crops in riparian zones of the US Midwest”- T. D. Meehan, C. Gratton, E. Diehl, N. D. Hunt, D. F. Mooney, S. J. Ventura, B. L. Barham, and R. D. Jackson). In general, they found that switching from continuous corn to perennial systems incurred a cost (decreased annual income) but the benefits of switching included increased annual energy provisioning, decreased annual phosphorous loading to surface water, increased below-ground carbon sequestration, decreased annual nitrous oxide emissions, increased pollinator abundance and increased pest control potential. The “benefit-cost ratios” varied spatially and by watersheds, suggesting the presence of hotspots “where increases in multiple ecosystem services would come at lower-than-average opportunity costs”. The authors discuss the challenges of expanding to perennial energy crops systems and maintaining sustainable agricultural landscapes.
In Amin’s paper, he compares different modeling techniques to accurately describe and predict the boundary and shape of urban expansion (“Predicting the expansion of an urban boundary using spatial logistic regression and hybrid raster–vector routines with remote sensing and GIS”- A. Tayyebi, P.C. Perry and A. H. Tayyebi). He examines how biophysical factors (e.g. distance to streams, urban areas, and roads, elevation, slope) influence the rate at which urban boundaries expand over time. He used satellite images of Las Vegas, NV, collected in 1990, 2000, and 2010 to build, test, and validate the models. He discusses how these techniques can be used to plan for future urban boundary expansions in other locations.
From the UW site: Claudio is co-PI on this new effort.
$3 million grant to train new scientists to collaborate on conservation challenges
By Nicole Miller
A new type of forest is taking root in Puerto Rico’s abandoned sugar cane fields. The new stands are full of invasive trees, but they harbor large numbers of endangered native bird species. From the perspective of conservation science, are these forest parcels good or bad? And how should they be managed?
The world’s conservation biologists are struggling to deal with new situations like this-where major shifts in climate and land use are creating novel ecosystems and no-analog climates. UW-Madison is gearing up to help train more graduates students to deal with these complex problems, with the support of a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
“We’re moving into uncharted territory, where past trends are no longer good predictors of what will happen in the future, which makes things very difficult for conservationists,” says Volker Radeloff, a professor of forest and wildlife ecology who is leading the effort. “The grant will allow us to train a new generation of scientists to be proactive in this changing world-to focus on finding solutions, and not just better ways to measure how things are changing.”
A novel feature of the five-year Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant is that the 24 doctoral students it will support will be collaborating with scientists outside of their home disciplines. Traditionally, conservation biologists train as ecologists and then pick up skills in other fields-such as genetics, statistics or remote sensing-as needed to complete their projects. But Radeloff likens this go-it-alone approach to cello virtuoso Yo Yo Ma deciding to pick up the violin or the trombone.
“Yo Yo Ma doesn’t try to play other instruments, but he can play very nicely with others,” says Radeloff, noting Ma’s work with symphonies, the Silk Road Orchestra and an all-star bluegrass group. “That’s what we want to try to emulate as a model for our graduate education. We want people who are superbly trained in their field, but who also have great collaborative skills.”
“We need true geneticists, statisticians, computer scientists, biologists, ecologists, botanists. We need all of these folks who are at the cutting edge of their fields to work together on these problems,” says Radeloff.
The first cohort of IGERT trainees will be selected this fall and start their fellowships next January. In addition to conducting research, they will participate in weekly IGERT lab meetings and have opportunities to work with outside clients, such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, to study and address real-world conservation issues.
This summer, a group of faculty, staff and students connected to the IGERT project will take a bus tour around the state, visiting sites where landscapes are changing and where notable conservation efforts are taking place. Starting this fall, the group will gather for monthly “conservation salons,” and there will be courses available to help prepare starting graduate students to become IGERT dissertators down the line.
Radeloff hopes that the grant will foster a culture of collaboration within the university’s diverse conservation community that lasts far longer than the grant itself. His wish seems possible, given that many of the involved faculty had already been meeting to discuss their work and collaborating on projects for a number of years before applying for the grant. The IGERT was the first opportunity for the whole group-which Volker describes as “a good orchestra”-to work together on something.
“The awarding of this IGERT grant is a tribute to the creativity and hard work of the principal investigators,” says Rick Lindroth, associate dean for research at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “It will ensure that we remain front and center in the training of scientists to grapple with these complex and critically important issues.”
IGERT faculty include Volker Radeloff, forest and wildlife ecology (FWE) (principal investigator); Anthony Ives, zoology (co-PI); Susan Millar, Morgridge Institute, Wisconsin Center for Education Research (co-PI); Adena Rissman, FWE (co-PI); Claudio Gratton, entomology (co-PI); Jennifer Alix-Garcia, agricultural and applied economics; Murray Clayton, plant pathology; Katherine Curtis, community and environmental sociology; Noah Feinstein, School of Education; Michael Ferris, computer sciences, Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery; Patty Loew, life sciences communication; Holly Gibbs, geography; Erika Marin-Spiotta, geography; Peter McIntyre, Center for Limnology; Francisco Pelegri, genetics; Anna Pidgeon, FWE; Tim Van Deelen, FWE; Jake Vander Zanden, Center for Limnology; Dan Vimont, atmospheric and oceanic sciences; Jack Williams, geography.
Posted by Claudio Gratton
At which scale should conservation of non-crop habitat take place to sustain such important ecosystem services as the control of crop pests? To help understanding the consequences of land-use decisions, Ben Werling and Claudio Gratton examined the impact of local and broad scale landscape structure on the predation of two insect pests of potatoes in Wisconsin, the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, and the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae.
At a local scale (meters), potato fields of different sizes were bordered by different areas of uncultivated grassy field margins. At a broad scale (kilometers), potato fields and grassy margins were set in landscapes composed of varying percentages of non-crop habitat. The Predation of both investigated species was significantly impacted by non-crop habitats, but this relationship occurred at different scales for each pest and interacted differently with habitat type. The predation of exposed egg masses of L. decemlineata was greater in field margins than in the potato crop and increased in both habitats when field margins were large relative to the area of potatoes while that predation was less affected by the amount of non-crop habitat within kilometers. In contrast, the suppression of aphid population growth by predators increased with the area of non-crop habitat within kilometers of fields, but was less affected by the field margin area.
As a potential mechanism for the differential impact of local and broad scale landscape structure on predation of these pests, Ben and Claudio suggested that the two pests are attacked by natural enemies with different dispersal abilities. Aphid predators may move across the landscape at broader scales than predators that attack L. decemlineata eggs. Alternatively, the same predators may attack both pests, but respond to landscape structure differently in June, when L. decemlineata egg abundance peak and August when Aphids are present.
Ben and Claudio quoted that the influence of non-crop habitats on predation the potato beetles is due to the movement of natural enemies between resource-providing field margins and potatoes. Consequently small field sizes could reduce the travel distance and increase the ability of organisms to access resources in non-crop habitats. The oppositional patterns of M. persicae suppression suggest that aphidophagous predators move between non-crop habitats at the scale of kilometers. Because even a single ecosystem service, such as pest predation, can be influenced by landscape structure at multiple scales, the authors emphasize that it may be necessary to conserve heterogeneity both at the levels of individual farms and entire mosaic landscapes to maintain ecosystem services.