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Wildlife biologists study threatened Canada lynx at Glacier

The Glacier National Park Conservancy, Glacier National Park and Washington State University are in year two of a three-year research study.

Alissa Anderson.

“Climate change is highly likely to shrink lynx habitat and make it more fragmented,” said Alissa Anderson, a master’s student in environmental sciences at Washington State University and wildlife biologist.

The trail cams are able to snap photos of more than just the lynx. Over the span of the study so far, the trail cams have captured photos of hundreds of moose, elk, bears, deer and thousands of hikers.

Project workers will be able to collect the data from all sorts of animals, not just lynx, and share the information with other researchers and studies.

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NBC Montana

Styrofoam-eating mealworms could be safe for dinner

Insects aren’t typically on American dinner menus. But in Asia, beetle larvae called mealworms have long been a useful, environmentally sustainable source of protein, and are growing in popularity as the world population grows.

Brendan Campbell.

Brenden Campbell, a master’s student at Washington State University’s School of the Environment, won recognition from the Comparative Nutrition Society after virtually presenting research on a recently discovered ability in mealworms. In his undergraduate honors research project done in animal sciences, Campbell found that the larvae can safely eat polystyrene waste, discarded polymers better known by their trade name of Styrofoam.

“The initial Stanford experiment was an inspiration to me, and the reason I started this study,” Campbell said. “I wanted to look at this from a food angle and explore the possibilities.”

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WSU Insider

Bear Butter: Scientists Study Tiny Moths As Rich Food Source For Grizzlies

A diverse team of international scientists led by a Washington State University graduate student are trekking the high peaks of the greater Glacier National Park ecosystem this summer to better understand a tiny but important food source for grizzly bears—the army cutworm moth.

Daniel Thornton.

Erik Peterson, a master’s student in the School of the Environment, partnered with Daniel Thornton, WSU professor in the School of the Environment, and seven colleagues to collect data, map, and model the alpine habitats where grizzlies forage on moths by the thousands, finding calorie-rich meals in mid-summer.

“Glacier National Park is a grizzly mecca,” said Peterson, a former field biologist for the park. Glacier is a microcosm for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which includes Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, and Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia and is home to as many as 1,000 bears.

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Daily Fly

WSU Insider

Farm Progress


Big Questions, Few Answers About What Happens Under Lake Ice

Stephanie Hampton.

By Stephanie Hampton, WSU professor in environmental sciences, and colleagues

Historically, research on inland waters has focused on the warmer months of the year. Limnologists have mostly avoided studying lakes in winter, especially lakes that experience seasonal ice cover, as if dynamics beneath the ice were unimportant.

But multiple lines of evidence now present a compelling case that winter is indeed a fascinating and important time for lakes. Under dark conditions, when snow and ice obscure light penetration, degradation of organic material already in lakes still occurs, and when clear ice allows some light through, this light can fuel primary production to levels even higher than those in summer.

Winter fieldwork on lakes is still difficult and dangerous, particularly on ice-covered lakes. Thus, although basic understanding about winter limnology has increased in the past decade, the pace of scientific progress has not kept pace with rates of ecological change.

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When the Sky Fell

Forty years later, the angry-looking ash cloud billowing above Mount St. Helens remains one of the most iconic images in state history. Those living in the state of Washington at the time of the May 18, 1980, eruption all have a where-were-you-when-it-blew moment.

Don Dillman.

Within an hour of the eruption, WSU geology alumnus Don Swanson (’60) was documenting the cataclysm from an airplane, flying in figure-eights on the south side of the volcano to film and take photos. On the other side of the state, students at WSU Pullman were studying for finals and doing everyday chores like laundry.

Don A. Dillman, now a Regents Professor in sociology, was roller skating with his wife and two young children. He wrote a detailed account, which the Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections at WSU Libraries keeps for posterity.

Swanson, now 81, went on to become the scientist-in-charge of the Cascades Volcano Observatory and, later, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the rim of the Kilauea Caldera—where he still serves as scientist emeritus. But Mount St. Helens has never left him. He knew three people who perished in the blast zone and dedicated his career to better understanding eruptions in order to prevent similar tragedies. “I think about it almost every day,” he says.

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Washington State Magazine