Salmon in the northwestern continental United States often carry a fluke containing bacteria that can produce a deadly disease in bears called salmon poisoning disease (SPD). Current recovery plans for grizzly bears in the North Cascades of Washington and the mountains of central Idaho, where infected salmon currently occur, call for using bears from several interior populations; however, a new study reveals that such bears with no history of salmon consumption are likely sensitive to SPD.
The Journal of Wildlife Management findings indicate that identifying a source of bears that would be resistant to SPD may be difficult.
“We are hopeful that the bears used in the initial restoration effort will feed exclusively on terrestrial-based foods as there are currently very few salmon returning to the North Cascades; however, any bear that moves into lower elevation areas where they might consume salmon will be closely monitored,” said lead author Dr. Charles Robbins, professor of environmental studies at Washington State University. “If they eat salmon containing the bacteria, we suspect they will get sick. We are hopeful that they will be able to recover.”
There’s camping, then there’s Alaska back-country, grizzly bear scientific research camping.
That’s how Joy Erlenbach, a doctoral student in the School of the Environment, has spent the past three summers, and where she is right now.
“We get dropped off in the middle of Katmai National Park by a float plane, then we’re on our own for a month,” Erlenbach said before she left this year.
No showers, only one other person to talk to, and surrounded by beautiful mountains, rivers, wildlife and waterfront. Oh, and bears. Plenty of bears.
“We’ve got two tents, surrounded by an electric fence, with maybe 20-30 bears in the meadow right outside the tent,” she said. “You can’t let your guard down. I mean, bears aren’t there to get you, but you have to always be aware of your surroundings.”
Kevan Moffett, assistant professor of environmental hydrology in the WSU Vancouver School of Environment, has earned a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Program award from the National Science Foundation. Moffett’s five-year, $690,534 grant provides long-term financial support for studying how the urban water cycle interacts with heat generated by urban areas.
The highly competitive CAREER awards are given annually to pre-tenure teacher–scholars to help cover graduate student support and tuition as well as materials, supplies, data management, communication, education development and overhead costs.
Moffett has found that most hydrological research takes place in “natural” areas, but most of the world’s people live in cities where humans have reconfigured the landscape into alternating patterns of pavement and vegetation. She will explore how lessons from natural science conducted in rural natural areas might apply to urban environments.
She also will consider whether understanding urban heat and water balances could have applications for making cities more livable in the face of global change.
The last century has seen rapid advances in our understanding of how the Earth formed, and how the movement of continents through plate tectonics continues to shape our lands, oceans and mountain ranges. But geologists are yet to agree on one important question: what was the Earth like before the plates formed?
New research by WSU associate professor of geology Katie Cooper and colleagues supports the theory that early Earth was highly volcanically active, and that evidence of the violent transition to plate tectonics can still be seen today.
They may also have solved a second geological mystery: Why are there parts of the Earth that are not affected by plate tectonics?
WSU scientists have discovered that different species of salmon have varying reactions to polluted stormwater runoff.
In a recent paper published in the journal Environmental Pollution, scientists say that coho salmon became sick and nearly died, within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater, but chum salmon showed no signs of ill-effects after prolonged exposure to the same water.
“It really surprised us,” said Jen McIntyre, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment. “Not that the coho were affected so quickly, but how resistant the chum were. We saw no impact at all in the chum’s post-exposure bloodwork.”