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College of Arts and Sciences migration

History professors launch community conversations

WSU Vancouver history professor Sue Peabody and adjunct professor Donna Sinclair were looking at the demographic records of Clark County, Washington, and noticed some surprising facts. The local population has more than doubled in the past three decades, from 221,654 to nearly 500,000 in 2017. And while more than half (54 percent) of the current residents were born in another state, another 10 percent of the county’s residents were born in another country altogether.

The data started them thinking: “How did all these people come to Clark County?” and “How is Clark County changing in response to this growth?” » More …

Monarch butterflies disappearing from western North America

butterflies on a pine branchMonarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction than eastern monarchs, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation.

“Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts,” said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver and lead author of the study. “In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000.” » More …

Exodus: Climate and the movement of the people

footprints sandVast swaths of forests in western North America are dead or dying, killed by pine bark beetle. The beetles have been there all along, but prolonged droughts reduced the trees’ ability to defend themselves from the inner bark-munching bugs.

The western slopes of the Sierra Nevada range in California have been especially hard hit by the depredation, just as people who made money in Silicon Valley sought to move their families out of the choked cities and up into the beautiful mountain forests. Now, to mitigate risk of catastrophic fire and the further spread of pests such as bark beetle, landowners must cut down dying and dead trees—the forests that were the very reason they moved there in the first place. » More …