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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences conservation

A world without insects?

Insect Illustration.Over the past couple of decades an increasing number of reports have warned of dramatic declines in insect populations worldwide. Faced with data sufficient to cause grave concern, WSU scientists embrace a mixture of trust in insect resilience and a determination that despair is not an option.

Referring to her efforts to restore pollinator habitat and rebuild threatened butterfly populations, WSU Vancouver conservation biologist Cheryl Schultz says, “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think there was hope.” » More …

Mapping natural and legal boundaries to help wildlife move

A forest stream.Wildlife need to move to survive: to find food, reproduce and escape wildfires and other hazards. Yet as soon as they leave protected areas like national forests or parks, they often wind up on a landscape that is very fragmented in terms of natural boundaries and human ones.

To help create more corridors for wildlife movement, a team led by School of Environment graduate student Amanda Stahl has developed a way to map » More …

Living at the edges

LynxResembling an overgrown house cat with black-tipped ears and a stubby tail, the Canada lynx, a native of North America, teeters on the brink of extinction in the U.S. The few lynx that now roam parts of Washington and the mountainous Northwest survive largely because of a network of protected landscapes that crosses the U.S.–Canada border.

WSU environmental researchers believe this transboundary landscape provides not only essential habitat for the wild cats but likely also vital » More …

Where sharks want to be

Charles Bangley releases a live shark into the ocean from the side of a boat.Charles Bangley, an international expert in shark ecology and conservation, presented the 2019 Robert Jonas Lecture in Biological Sciences on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at WSU Pullman.

His talk, titled “Where sharks want to be: Using tracking technology to define important habitat,” showcased efforts to conserve and manage sharks and rays, which is difficult because of their wide‑ranging habitats. Many sharks and rays undergo » More …

eDNA: An early warning system for deadly pathogen

A mountain yellow-legged frog. Photo credit: Michael Hernandez A new technology being developed at Washington State University could help save amphibians around the world from deadly pathogens like Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a particularly nasty type of fungus that attacks the skin of frogs and salamanders.

The new tool, know as environmental DNA, or eDNA, detects telltale bits of genetic material that living creatures shed into their environment, and enables wildlife scientists to confirm the presence of a wide variety of aquatic organisms without the hassle of finding them. » More …

Health of amphibians in oil sand fields area assessed

wood frog on hand from "nature north"The impact of pollutants from the world’s largest oil sand field on the health of amphibians marks the focus of a team of research biologists from Washington State University and Canada.

The scientists are studying the effects of development in the Athabasca oil sands region of Northern Alberta on the habitat, physiology, behavior and long-term health of wood frogs. » More …

WSU research highlights deforestation threat to jaguars

PULLMAN, Wash. – Accelerating deforestation of jaguar habitat, especially in corridors connecting conservation areas, threatens the long-term survival of the iconic predator, according to new research by Dan Thornton, an assistant professor in the Washington State University School of the Environment.

He and colleague Peter Olsoy, a WSU environmental sciences doctoral student, suggest conservation groups and scientists focus efforts on working with local communities and elected officials to protect these vital forest corridors. » More …