OSU News Releases
OSU researchers hope to tap into the state’s population of bird-watching enthusiasts to create a volunteer team of “citizen scientists” to gather data on Oregon birds.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University researchers are hoping to tap into the state’s growing population of bird-watching enthusiasts to create a volunteer team of “citizen scientists” to gather data on Oregon’s resident and visiting birds.
Their project, called Oregon 2020, is seeking to fill some of the large gaps in data about Oregon birds, organizers say. Information about the project is available online at: http://oregon2020.com/.
“Oregon has a few species of birds we know very well – like the spotted owl, the sage grouse and the meadowlark,” said W. Douglas Robinson, the Mace Professor of Watchable Wildlife at OSU and director of the Oregon 2020 project. “However, the state has more than 500 species of birds and we know very little about many of them – even where they live.
“One goal of Oregon 2020 is to establish a baseline for the abundance and distribution of these birds so that in the future we can evaluate the impacts on them from disease, wildfire, climate change, or whatever other issues emerge,” he added.
To help the OSU scientists, Robinson hopes to enlist a cadre of volunteers in each county to gather data on birds in their area. The project will offer online tutorials and guidance on how to collect and log the data, which will be part of the national eBird database run by Cornell University. The popular eBird site receives more than 1 million submissions each month – but few from Oregon.
As part of the project, Robinson and others will hold periodic “bird blitzes” in Oregon counties where they will go out with volunteers to canvas all types of terrain. The first of these blitzes will take place June 21-23 in Polk County.
“Polk County has the least amount of data in eBird for any county west of the Cascades,” pointed out Robinson, who is a professor in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “Most of the data we do have comes from Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, which is a unique habitat that draws waterbirds, migratory birds and those birds that prefer an oak savannah. But we’d like to know what else the county has to offer in the way of species.”
The eBird database likewise has few listings for birds on most of the counties east of the Cascades, so getting volunteers there is critical, Robinson pointed out. Sometimes these surveys provide data that turns out to be surprising, he added.
“Some species that are thought to be rare turn out to be more common than we previously thought,” Robinson pointed out. “The Oregon vesper sparrow, for instance, has declined along with its oak savannah habitat and there was concern it might be listed as endangered. But we conducted a series of roadside surveys in Benton County and found plenty of them.
“As it turns out, they were considered rare because there weren’t enough watchers to explore the countryside,” Robinson added. “That’s what makes these surveys so important.”
Robinson is eBird’s official reviewer for Benton County, which means he looks over the submissions and analyzes them for their validity.
“Sometimes, a volunteer may log the sighting of a golden eagle, when it is far more likely to be an immature bald eagle,” Robinson said. “As a reviewer, I can correspond with the observer to make sure we get the correct identification. This gives us confidence that observations logged in eBird are valid.”
Persons interested in volunteering should log onto the Oregon 2020 website. In addition to county blitzes, participants will be offered workshops to learn better methods for counting birds, documenting species and using eBird. A GPS instrument is helpful, but not essential, Robinson said, since eBird has a mapping function.
“We’re hoping to do what we wish Lewis and Clark could have done more than 200 years ago,” Robinson said. “Imagine if they could have logged not just observations of species, but actual numbers and specific locations. That’s what we’d like to create. We want future generations to be able to go to exact locations in Oregon and compare species and numbers to what we observe today.”College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Doug Robinson, 541-737-9501; firstname.lastname@example.orgMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Bullfrogs can carry a fungus that is killing amphibian populations around the world, but they also can die from it.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Amphibian populations are declining worldwide and a major cause is a deadly fungus thought to be spread by bullfrogs, but a two-year study shows they can also die from this pathogen, contrary to suggestions that bullfrogs are a tolerant carrier host that just spreads the disease.
When researchers raised the frogs from eggs in controlled experimental conditions, they found at least one strain of this pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also called Bd or a chytrid fungus, can be fatal to year-old juveniles. However, bullfrogs were resistant to one other strain that was tested.
The findings, made by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Pittsburgh, show that bullfrogs are not the sole culprit in the spread of this deadly fungus, and add further complexity to the question of why amphibians are in such serious jeopardy.
About 40 percent of all amphibian species are declining or are already extinct, researchers say. Various causes are suspected, including this fungus, habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, invasive species, increased UV-B light exposure, and other forces.
“At least so far as the chytrid fungus is involved, bullfrogs may not be the villains they are currently made out to be,” said Stephanie Gervasi, a zoology researcher in the OSU College of Science. “The conventional wisdom is that bullfrogs, as a tolerant host, are what helped spread this fungus all over the world. But we’ve now shown they can die from it just like other amphibians.”
The research suggests that bullfrogs actually are not a very good host for the fungus, which first was identified as a novel disease of amphibians in 1998. So why the fungus has spread so fast, so far, and is causing such mortality rates is still not clear.
“One possibility for the fungal increase is climate change, which can also compromise the immune systems of amphibians,” said Andrew Blaustein, a distinguished professor of zoology at OSU and international leader in the study of amphibian declines. “There are a lot of possible ways the fungus can spread. People can even carry it on their shoes.”
The average infection load of the chytrid fungus in bullfrogs, regardless of the strain, is considerably lower than that of many other amphibian species, researchers have found. Some bullfrogs can reduce and even get rid of infection in their skin over time.
While adult bullfrogs may be carriers of some strains of Bd in some areas, the researchers concluded, different hosts may be as or more important in other locations. International trade of both amphibian and non-amphibian animal species may also drive global pathogen distribution, they said.
The findings of this study were published in EcoHealth, a professional journal.College of Science Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Andrew Blaustein, 541-737-3705Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Bring a taste of South America, Europe or Asia to your garden this year by adding a diverse array of exotic vegetables.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Bring a taste of South America, Europe or Asia to your garden this year by adding a diverse array of exotic vegetables.
A varied collection of plants can also reduce the potential for pests and diseases in a garden, said Jim Myers, a vegetable breeder with the Oregon State University Extension Service.
"There's a lot of natural, biological control that goes on in a garden that we're not even aware of when we have biodiversity," Myers said.
When shopping for exotic plants, buy only seeds or starts from Pacific Northwest-based nurseries and suppliers, Myers advised. If you order online or while traveling, globetrotting plants can carry hitchhiking pests or diseases.
The following plants were tested at OSU fields and perform well with varying degrees of success in a Pacific Northwest climate, Myers said.
- Yacón: Smallanthus sonchifolius. The yacón is an Andean relative of the sunflower that grows 6-8 feet tall. It's tasty in a salad or as a snack but doesn't contain enough carbohydrates to become a diet staple, according to Myers. The perennial performs well in both eastern and western Oregon. While similar to the Jerusalem artichoke, yacón's tuberous roots grow to about the size of a sweet potato. Plant seed pieces in the spring for an October harvest. Yacón can overwinter in the ground where the soil does not freeze.
- Mashua: Tropaeolum tuberosum. Mashua is grown in the Andes for its edible tuberous roots. A relative of the nasturtium, mashua's showy red flowers emerge in late September. A vigorous perennial, it can climb 7-13 feet high. Mashua has a pungent flavor, similar to a radish. This hardy plant thrives even in poor soil. Cultivate it similar to how you would a potato; plant in spring for a fall harvest.
- Oca: Oxalis tuberosa. Oregon does not offer an optimum climate for oca, but it can be grown in select areas in the western part of the state. Tubers will grow small without tropical heat. It can't survive frost but tubers will overwinter in the ground as long as they do not freeze. Plant in spring for November harvest. Cultivate as you would a potato. The tuber is edible and the leaves and young shoots can be eaten as well. Its flavor is slightly tangy, caused by its oxalic acid content, which should not be consumed in large quantities. Some varieties have been bred for lower oxalic acid content.
- Cardoon: Cynara cardunculus. The cardoon is related to the artichoke. Both are perennial members of the thistle family and hail from southern Europe. It needs full sun. Good for the Willamette Valley and eastern Oregon. Its leaf stalks produce in a flush of springtime growth; in the summer there is little growth. Harvest the leaf stalks similar to the way you would celery. Stalks need to be cleaned and peeled before cooking. Plant transplants in spring.
- Asian greens: Any green in the Brassica rapa family. A good one to try is pakchoi cabbage, which has large white, fleshy stems. When eaten, it has a soft, creamy texture. "It has a little bite to it but it's pretty mild," Myers said. This cool-season crop goes well in salads or cooked. Plant it in early spring for an early summer harvest. Not tolerant of winter conditions. At OSU, pakchoi cabbage is planted in July for a fall harvest.
Jim Myers, 541-737-3083
Oregon companies, both large and small, are taking advantage of the chance to work with OSU engineering students on projects ranging from applied research to product development.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – An increasing number of Oregon companies, both large and small, are taking advantage of the chance to work with Oregon State University engineering students on projects ranging from applied research to product development.
This year many small Oregon companies and startups have teamed up with students on topics such as optimizing solar panel performance or developing devices for the treatment of type-one diabetes. VAL Avionics of Salem, Ore., sponsored a project that resulted in a new navigational system for airplanes that is already on the market.
Such university-industry partnerships sometimes produce a marketable product, and sometimes just improve efficiency or add new capabilities. Inspired Light, a small startup in Corvallis, Ore., sponsored a project to store, monitor, and display output from solar panels that will help them more easily monitor the performance of their panels.
“We definitely have gained value that will help us start more quickly this summer on implementation of the final product, where their work will be utilized,” said Jim Dickie, research and development manager at Inspired Light.
Projects range in technical complexity and potential impact. Other examples include:
- A group of seniors from the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics is working on a heat removal analysis and design for NuScale Power, a Corvallis-based company that is developing small modular reactor designs. The goal is to determine if the NuScale design can withstand Fukushima-type accidents without core damage.
- Students are creating an “Oregon Ale Trail” Facebook and mobile apps. The goal is an online community that celebrates more than 170 breweries by sharing brewery experiences. As users visit breweries they create their very own ale trail, with a goal of visiting them all.
- Energy systems engineering students at OSU-Cascades designed a “purge system” to prevent embrittlement of the film in a fuel cell hydrogen generator during loss of power or controlled shutdown for maintenance, thereby significantly extending the life of the materials.
- Students redesigned a water distribution system to pump irrigation water from the Columbia River to 125-acre circles owned by Madison Farms in eastern Oregon. The computer model and optimized water distribution saved roughly 8 percent of energy use for a growing season, and may be applied for other farm irrigation systems.
- Students created an ergonomic assessment and scoring tool for truck cabs of the Oregon Department of Transportation to use in purchasing decisions. The tool has been licensed and will be used to justify buying $10 million worth of trucks for herbicide applications.
- One senior project is developing a membrane that will improve the performance of an integrated sensing catheter used in monitoring blood glucose levels and managing type-one diabetes.
“It’s a win-win model,” said John Parmigiani, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at OSU.
“Students gain real-world engineering and project management experience in a classroom environment,” he said. “Sponsors receive a deliverable that would have otherwise been expensive and/or difficult to obtain. The outcome is a great educational opportunity for students and satisfied sponsors who return to Oregon State for additional projects.”
A new initiative at OSU, the Oregon State University Advantage, is also taking an organized approach to developing more partnerships between OSU business, industry, students and faculty, through such programs as the Venture Accelerator and the Industry Partnering Program.College of Engineering Media Contact:
Thuy Tran, 541-737-6020Source:
John Parmigiani, 541-737-7023
Marion Rossi, director of the School of Arts and Communication and associate professor of theater arts, has been appointed associate dean in Oregon State University’s College of Liberal Arts.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Marion Rossi, director of the School of Arts and Communication and associate professor of theater arts, has been appointed associate dean in Oregon State University’s College of Liberal Arts.
Rossi’s appointment comes on the heels of a $5 million gift dedicated to the arts that was given earlier this year by an anonymous donor – the largest for the arts Oregon State has ever received.
“Marion Rossi has a longstanding reputation as a leader in the arts community at Oregon State,” said Larry Rodgers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “As associate dean, he will not only continue to elevate the arts but will dedicate himself to enhancing every school in the college.”
As associate dean, Rossi will also focus on curricular innovations and alignment, as well as building the college’s connections and collaboration within the university.
“The arts, humanities and social sciences not only generate their own particularized knowledge, they shape our ways of understanding the human experience,” Rossi said. “I look forward to further engaging with colleagues around the university and creating new opportunities for our students.”
Rossi will replace associate dean Michael Oriard, who retires from Oregon State with 37 years of service on June 30.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact: Angela Yeager Source:
Larry Rodgers, 541-737-4581
OSU will hold its 144th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 15, at Reser Stadium. The processional of graduating students will begin entering the stadium at 10:30 a.m.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is one of the few institutions of its size that hands out actual diplomas during commencement – a distinction that will become more difficult this year in light of a record class estimated at 5,221 graduates.
OSU will hold its 144th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 15, at Reser Stadium. The processional of graduating students will begin entering the stadium at 10:30 a.m.
Commencement is free and open to the public and no tickets are required. It will also be broadcast live on Oregon Public Broadcasting through its OPB Plus network. More information on the OSU commencement is available online at: http://oregonstate.edu/events/commencement/.
Major General Julie A. Bentz, an Oregon State University alumna who advises President Obama on national security issues, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate.
Bentz, director of strategic capabilities policy on the National Security Staff, is a 1986 graduate of OSU, where she received an ROTC commission and earned a degree in radiological health. She is the first female officer from the Oregon Army National Guard to achieve the rank of general.
“Gen. Bentz has played an integral role in advising the United States about security matters – and especially nuclear defense strategies and implications – since Sept. 11, 2001,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “Her journey from a small town in Oregon, to Oregon State University, and on to national prominence will provide a compelling message for our graduates.”
OSU’s record class of 5,221 graduates includes 2,654 women and 2,567 men, who will earn a total of 5,483 degrees. This year’s grads come from 47 states, the nation’s capital, four U.S. territories or commonwealths, 18 U.S. islands, and 48 countries. Among the other highlights:
- The oldest 2013 graduate is 64 years old; the youngest is 19;
- Eight of this year’s graduates are receiving three separate degrees, while 247 students have earned two degrees apiece;
- More than 340 graduates earned their degrees in distance education in 23 different degree programs through ECampus. One of those degree programs – an online computer science professional degree – is graduating its first students this year.
- 164 members of this year’s graduating class are veterans.
Each of Oregon State’s 5,221 graduates has a compelling story.
Eder Mondragón Quiroz, the son of Mexican immigrants, is the first member of his family to attend college. He came to OSU as a shy freshman and enrolled in the College Assistance Migrant Program, where he blossomed under the tutelage of faculty. After earning degrees in Spanish and psychology two years ago, he decided to return to Oregon State and mentor younger students in the CAMP program while pursuing a graduate degree. Mondragón Quiroz will receive a master’s degree in Latino/a Studies this year – and his brother and cousin, inspired by his success, will also graduate this June.
Kyle Hatch served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2002 to 2008 and was deployed to Iraq as a medic twice. After his honorable discharge from the Marines, Hatch enrolled at Linn-Benton Community College and then transferred to OSU in 2011. He assumed a leadership role in the Associated Students of OSU Veterans Task Force, and became president of the Student Veterans Fraternity, Omega Delta Sigma. His work to advance awareness of veterans on campus has culminated in the debut this commencement of a special tassel – the Veteran and U.S. Military Recognition Cord.
Stephanie McGregor is graduating this June with a degree in bioengineering, after maintaining a 3.97 grade point average and participating in the University Honors College. The time commitment for anyone would be daunting, but what makes McGregor’s feat even more impressive is that she was an important performer on OSU’s nationally ranked gymnastics team.
“We don’t get very many athletes in our CBEE (Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering) program,” said her professor and mentor, Skip Rochefort. “To be the top student in one of the most challenging undergraduate majors and be a major contributor to a national class gymnastics team at OSU is truly an amazing accomplishment.”Generic OSU Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Rebecca Mathern, 541-737-4048; Rebecca.Mathern@oregonstate.eduMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
A new analysis suggests that more flu vaccines should be given to children and young adults to reduce transmission, which would decrease overall deaths.
The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/14ZuFi0
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The huge value of vaccinating more children and young adults for influenza is being seriously underestimated, experts say in a new report, while conventional wisdom and historic vaccine programs have concentrated on the elderly and those at higher risk of death and serious complications.
A computer modeling analysis was just published in the journal Vaccine, in work supported by the National Institutes of Health. The study suggests that children in school and young adults at work do the vast majority of flu transmission. Programs that effectively increase vaccination in those groups would have the best payoff, the research concluded.
The key point: If you don’t catch the flu, you can’t die from it. Breaking the cycle of transmission benefits everyone from infants to the elderly, the researchers said. And at stake are thousands of lives and billions of dollars a year.
“In most cases, the available flu vaccine could be used more effectively and save more lives by increasing the number of vaccinated children and young adults,” said Jan Medlock, a co-author of the study and researcher with the Department of Biomedical Sciences in Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“That approach could really limit the cycle of transmission, preventing a great deal of illness while also reducing the number of deaths among high risk groups,” he said. “Approaches similar to this were used in Japan several decades ago, and they accomplished just that. Our new analysis suggests we should reconsider our priorities for vaccination.”
In a perfect world and in accord with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers agree that almost everyone over the age of six months should get the flu vaccine, unless they were allergic to the shot or had other reasons not to take it. But in the United States, only about one-third of the population actually gets a flu vaccine each year. Historic efforts have been focused on people at higher risk of death and severe disease – often the elderly, and those with chronic illness, weakened immune systems, health care workers or others.
With existing patterns of vaccine usage, the problem is enormous. Seasonal influenza in the U.S. results each year in an average of 36,000 deaths, more than 200,000 hospitalizations, an $87 billion economic burden, and millions of hours of lost time at school and work – not to mention feeling sick and miserable.
The flu vaccine up until 2000 was only recommended for people over 65, Medlock said, and other age groups were added in the past decade as it became clear they also were at high risk of death or complications – children from age six months to five years, and adults over 50. Just recently, age was taken completely out of the equation.
“Clearly we would want people at high medical risk to get a flu vaccine as long as it is abundant,” Medlock said. “But what we’re losing in our current approach is the understanding that most flu is transmitted by children and young adults. They don’t as often die from it, but they are the ones who spread it to everyone else.”
The population and disease transmission modeling done in the new study outlines this, and concluded that a 25-100 percent reduction in deaths from flu or its complications could be achieved if current flu vaccine usage were shifted to much more heavily include children and young adults, as well as those at high risk.
One obstacle, experts say, is the historic reluctance to add even more vaccines to those already received and often mandated for school-age children.
“A simple program we could consider in our K-12 schools would be to have the school nurse, or other local professional, give every child an annual flu shot, with the parents being informed about it in advance and having the option to decline,” Medlock said.
“Vaccinating children could prevent a great deal of illness and save many lives at all ages, not just the children,” he said. “More aggressive educational campaigns to reach young adults would also be helpful.”
Collaborators on this research included scientists from Yale University and the University of Texas. It was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.College of Veterinary Medicine Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Jan Medlock, 541-737-6874
A new study by OSU researchers has found that ocean acidification affects larval oysters by inhibiting shell formation, not necessarily by dissolving their shells once formed.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the past several years, the Pacific Northwest oyster industry has struggled with significant losses due to ocean acidification as oyster larvae encountered mortality rates sufficient to make production non-economically feasible.
Now a new study led by researchers at Oregon State University has documented why oysters appear so sensitive to increasing acidity. It isn’t necessarily a case of acidic water dissolving their shells, researchers say. Rather it is a case of water high in carbon dioxide altering shell formation rates, energy usage and, ultimately, the growth and survival of the young oysters.
Results of the study have been published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
“From the time eggs are fertilized, Pacific oyster larvae will precipitate roughly 90 percent of their body weight as a calcium carbonate shell within 48 hours,” said George Waldbusser, an OSU marine ecologist and lead author on the study. “The young oysters rely solely on the energy they derive from the egg because they have not yet developed feeding organs.”
Under exposure to increasing carbon dioxide in acidified water, however, it becomes more energetically expensive for organisms to build shell. Adult oysters and other bivalves may grow slower when exposed to rising CO2 levels, other studies have shown. But larvae in the first two days of life do not have the luxury of delayed growth, the researchers say.
“They must build their first shell quickly on a limited amount of energy – and along with the shell comes the organ to capture external food more effectively,” said Waldbusser, who is in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “It becomes a death race of sorts. Can the oyster build its shell quickly enough to allow its feeding mechanisms to develop before it runs out of energy from the egg?”
The study is important, scientists say, because it documents for the first time the links among shell formation rate, available energy, and sensitivity to acidification.
“The failure of oyster seed production in Northwest Pacific coastal waters is one of the most graphic examples of ocean acidification effects on important commercial shellfish,” said Dave Garrison, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the study. “This research is among the first to identify the links among organism physiology, ocean carbonate chemistry and oyster seed mortality.”
The authors say that the faster the rate of shell formation, the more energy is needed and oyster embryos building their first shell need “to make a lot of shell material on short order.”
“As the carbon dioxide in seawater increases, but before waters become corrosive, calcium carbonate precipitation requires significantly more energy to maintain the higher rates of shell formation found during this early stage,” Waldbusser said.
The OSU researchers worked with Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts Bay, Ore., on the study. Using stable isotopes, they found that on the second day of life, 100 percent of the larval tissue growth was from egg-derived carbon.
“The oyster larvae were still relying on egg-derived energy until they were 11 days old,” said Elizabeth Brunner, a graduate student working in Waldbusser’s laboratory and co-author on the study.
The earliest shell material in the larvae contained the greatest proportion of carbon from the surrounding waters, with increasing amounts of carbon from respiration incorporated into the shell after the first 48 hours, indicating ability to isolate and control shell surfaces where calcium carbonate is being deposited.
Waldbusser notes that adult bivalves are well-adapted to grow shell in conditions that are more acidified, and have evolved several mechanisms to do including use of organic molecules to organize and facilitate the formation of calcium carbonate; pumps that remove acid from the calcifying fluids; and outer shell coatings that protect the mineral to some degree from surrounding waters. These adaptations allow bivalves to generate calcium carbonate more rapidly than is possible without biological intervention.
The study notes that kinetics, or the rate of reaction, provides a physical constraint on the calcification process in seawater absent of life; for calcium carbonate the rate is proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) present, before water actually becomes corrosive to the mineral
Waldbusser said the study helps explain previous findings at Whiskey Creek Hatchery of larval sensitivity to waters that are elevated in CO2 but not corrosive to calcium carbonate. They also explain carryover effects later in larval life of exposure to elevated CO2, similar to neonatal nutrition.
The discovery may actually be good news, scientists say, because there are interventions that can be done at the hatcheries that may offset some of the effects of ocean acidification.
Some hatcheries have begun “buffering” water for larvae – essentially adding antacid to the incoming water – including the Whiskey Creek Hatchery and the Taylor Shellfish Farm in Washington. The OSU-led study provides a scientific foundation for the target level of buffering.
“Whiskey Creek Hatchery figured this out by trial and error in the last couple years arriving at an amount of buffering that was more than we initially thought would be needed,” Waldbusser said. “On the energy side, you can make sure that eggs have more energy before they enter the larval stage, so a well-balanced adult diet may help larval oysters cope better with the stress of acidified water.”
Breeding for specific traits is another strategy, researchers say. Chris Langton, a co-author on the study, who for years directed the Molluscan Broodstock Program at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore., is leading an effort to use selective breeding to isolate certain favorable traits in oysters.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
George Waldbusser, 541-737-8964Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Whiskey Creek Hatchery
Effects of acidification
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University professor and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will give the opening night keynote address at Corvallis’ annual da Vinci Days festival on Friday, July 19.
Her presentation, “From the Silly to the Sublime: Stories about Science in D.C,” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Whiteside Theater. It is free and open to the public.
Lubchenco will reflect on her experiences with NOAA, the federal agency in charge of weather forecasts and warnings, climate records and outlooks. NOAA is also the nation’s ocean agency, managing fisheries, monitoring changes, and being the steward of ocean health in federal waters. NOAA’s satellites, ships, planes and other platforms and its cadre of scientists provide the information and understanding that support those activities.
Since stepping down from NOAA, Lubchenco has been on leave at Stanford University and plans to return to Oregon State in June.
Lubchenco’s talk will launch a weekend series of family-friendly talks by Oregon State researchers that will focus on the ongoing Mars rover mission, decoding the golden ratio, underwater photography from Antarctica and invasive bullfrogs in our lakes and streams.
All weekend presentations will be held in Kearney Hall, which is located on the university campus across from the da Vinci Days festival site. They are also free and open to the public.
Steve Amen, host of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s popular Oregon Field Guide, will conclude the series as the festival’s closing speaker. His presentation, “Oregon’s Splendor,” will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday in Kearney Hall. He will share some of his favorite spots in Oregon, from the high desert to the coast.
Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s left-brain-meets-right-brain genius, the first da Vinci Days festival was held in 1989. In addition to the speaker series, this celebration of arts, science and technology features independent films, live music and a kinetic sculpture race. Hands-on exhibition booths and demonstrations on the Oregon State campus invite students and families to explore the many creative sides of OSU and the Corvallis community.
See more about da Vinci Days at www.davincidays.org.Generic OSU Media Contact: Nick Houtman Source:
Michael Dalton, 541-992-1929Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center at Oregon State University is getting ready for a new home.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center at Oregon State University is getting ready for a new home.
Following closely on the heels of the Eena Haws Native American Longhouse, which had a grand opening in May, the current BCC, as it is known, is being replaced with a new building.
Construction starts in late summer, with completion expected by June 2014. A celebration of the center’s history and future took place today, followed by historic tours of the original building.
President Ed Ray spoke at the ceremony about how important it was to have a physical home for cultural groups on campus, and how the new centers were part of the university’s ongoing commitment to creating a more diverse OSU.
“This new building will help the university – and the wider community – to continue to build understanding and respect and knowledge,” he said. “That must be a goal for each of us. In completing each cultural center, we take a step forward in completing ourselves.”
The current building, which is part of the OSU Historic District, will be relocated this summer to a community garden at 30th and Orchard streets. A new building, designed by Seattle architectural firm Jones & Jones, will be built at the original location, while the BCC has temporary headquarters in Snell Hall.
The building will have a unique circular lounge, and exterior brick patterns based on Yoruba textiles known as Aso Oke, from Nigeria.
“The Gathering hall form is inspired by the Yoruba Toguna (Great Mother Shelter),” said Victoria Nguyen of the Office of Diversity Development.
Because student input has been crucial to the process, and because cultural centers are a visible demonstration of the university’s commitment to a diverse student body, Nguyen said buildings like the BCC are a great way to make campus more welcoming.
“Students will feel that they matter at OSU with just the resources and commitment from the institution in creating this space,” she said.
Dominique Austin, a graduate teaching assistant working with the BCC, said the center provides a sense of home and connection upon arriving at OSU.
“After becoming the graduate teaching assistant, I began to grow relationships and gain that sense of family with the BCC staff and community,” Austin said. “I am excited for the endless possibilities and opportunities not only for the black community on campus, but for Oregon State as a whole.
The original Black Student Union Cultural Center was formed on campus in 1975, and later renamed the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center after the first director of the Educational Opportunities Program, which originally helped increase recruitment and retention of black students at OSU.
The new building will provide entrances both to Memorial Place, to the east of the current building, and Monroe Avenue, to the north. The parking lot immediately next to the current building will be demolished.
The new building will be placed in anticipation of future development of the area, which could include an open quad to the south of the building (toward the Student Health Center), and possibly a new laboratory and office building for the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences to the west.
Construction on the new Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez begins this week and completion is estimated by December. The Asian & Pacific Cultural Center is also slated for a new home in the near future.
Editor’s Note: A photo set of today’s event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/sets/72157633956608208/Generic OSU Media Contact: Theresa Hogue Source:
Victoria Nguyen, 541-737-6341Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
From left, graduate student LaTreese Denson, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Larry Roper, and coordinator of the Ujima Office Earlean Wilson Huey chat after a formal celebration of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center. Date: June 5, 2013 (photo: Theresa Hogue)
A study by OSU researchers found that adding selenium to fields planted with alfalfa allows the forage crop to “take up” the important mineral in its tissues, providing better feed for livestock.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by Oregon State University researchers has found that adding selenium to fields planted with alfalfa will allow the perennial forage crop to “take up” the important mineral in its tissues, providing better feed for calves and other livestock.
The findings are particularly important, researchers say, because selenium delivered through plants in an organic form is much safer than directly feeding selenium to calves in an inorganic form, such as salt.
Results of the study have been published in part in the journal PLOS One.
Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in heavy concentrations in some parts of the country, and at low levels in others – including Oregon. Ranchers often provide selenium in supplements to livestock, but applications must be done carefully because too much of the mineral can be harmful to animals.
“When selenium gets picked up by the plant, it goes right into the amino acid selenomethionine, and when the animals consume it, the selenium gets stored in the muscle in a benign way,” Hall said. “The ranchers we’ve spoken with are extremely interested in these results, because not only does it appear this is safer for the animals, it may be cost-effective as well.”
During field trials, selenium was applied at varying levels to alfalfa hay fields after the first of three scheduled cuttings. Regardless of the level of selenium applied, the plants had taken up 83 percent of the selenium by the time of the second cutting. The remaining 17 percent of the applied selenium was taken up in the alfalfa by the third cutting.
The percentage of selenium uptake by the alfalfa was consistent regardless of the amount applied, according to Hall. “If we doubled the amount of selenium, the plants took up twice as much,” she said.
The researchers then fed selenium-fortified alfalfa to calves and compared their growth to control animals. Several weeks later, the calves with supplemented diets had higher blood selenium content levels at a rate commensurate with the amount of selenium applied to the fields. The calves fed selenium-fortified alfalfa also weighed up to 10 percent more than calves fed alfalfa without selenium.
Weight growth by the calves increased with additional selenium, Hall said, though there was more variability than the linear response by the plants.
“We also tested weaned calves to see if selenium-fortified alfalfa might boost the efficacy of vaccinations, giving a boost to the animals’ immune system,” Hall said, “and it appears that is the case. Calves fed the selenium-fortified alfalfa had increased antibody production – at a rate that mirrors the amount of selenium applied.
“The study demonstrates that selenium-fortified hay boosts the growth and vaccination response of weaned beef calves, which results in decreased mortality and improved slaughter weights,” she added.
Hall is a fifth-generation Oregonian who comes from a cattle ranching family in Douglas County. She is part of a long history of selenium studies at OSU that go back 50 years.
“Oregon is the only state where you can artificially fertilize fields with selenium,” Hall said, “and because most areas of the state are deficient in the mineral, this may be a strategy to consider for ranchers. Some countries, including Denmark and Finland, require fertilization in fields to increase the amount of selenium in the food chain, so the precedent is there.”
Other authors on the paper, all from OSU, include Gerd Bobe, Janice Hunter, William Vorachek, Whitney Stewart, Jorge Vanegas, Charles Estill, Wayne Mosher and Gene Pirelli.College of Veterinary Medicine Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Jean Hall, 541-737-6532; email@example.comMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The cost of child care in Oregon continues to rise even as wages decline, a new OSU report found. Child care costs increased 13 percent from 2004-12 while household income declined 9 percent.
The report this article is based on can be found at: http://health.oregonstate.edu/sbhs/family-policy-program/occrp-childcare-dynamics-publications
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The cost of child care in Oregon continues to rise even as wages decline, especially for the state’s most fragile families.
According to a new Oregon State University report looking at child care in the state and in every Oregon county, child care prices increased 13 percent from 2004 to 2012 while household incomes declined 9 percent.
The average annual cost of toddler care in a child care center in Oregon is now $11,064, up from $10,392 in 2010. Nationally, the cost of child care continues to rise, with child care expenditures taking a higher percentage of household income in 2011 than in 2005. Child Care Aware of America lists Oregon as the third most expensive state for infant child care (price as a percentage of income) in the nation.
“Families struggle to provide children the experiences they want for them,” said Bobbie Weber, a faculty research associate at the Family Policy Program in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and author of the report. Weber issues a new report every two years on child care in Oregon.
Survey findings show the majority of Oregonians rely on a parent, relative or close friend to care for their children. This is even the case for preschoolers (ages 3 to 4), which is the group with the highest rate of “organized care,” or care in a center or family child care home. More than 55 percent of those children are either at home with a parent or in an “informal” setting, such as with a relative or friend of the family.
“There is a perception that the majority of our kids are in a child care center or preschool, and it simply isn’t true,” Weber said. “For policy reasons, we need strategies to support children who are in home settings with parents, relatives, or others. Parents and caregivers need to have easy access to information and strategies for making children successful if we are to reach the goal of all children being ready for kindergarten.”
Weber said interventions have shown that home visiting programs, where an educator visits a home and provides information and resources to the adult and child alike, as well as Play and Learn groups, or community-based settings for child providers and kids to come together and work with a trained educator, have proven successful.
While there are subsidies available for those earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, parents have to pay part of their child care fees and that amount rises as incomes rise. Over the last few years, budget cuts have constrained how many families can be served. In 2012, approximately 13,000 children were served each month by the Employment Related Day Care Program, slightly more than half the number served in 2009.
“A lot more people are getting engaged and becoming aware of the struggles facing parents,” Weber said. “We are seeing increases in some of the programs that support children and families. It is likely that funds will be restored to the child care subsidy program and there will be an increase in Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten. Both programs enable low income families to access learning opportunities for their children.”
This year, an interactive map is available that allows people to find out about child care and education in their elementary school area, school district, or county. The map is available at: http://health.oregonstate.edu/occrp-map. Maps were produced by Jes Mendez of the Oregon Employment Department.
Weber is a member of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s Early Learning Council, which has been tasked to design the most effective early-childhood system, one that will ensure children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.
A full report and map for each county in Oregon can be found at: http://bit.ly/13DzxbL
Some of the county findings include:
- Child care prices have continued to rise while incomes have dropped. It is 24 times harder (measured by increase of prices combined with decrease in income) for a family to purchase care in 2012 than in 2004. It is 33 percent harder for single parents in 2012 than in 2004.
- The most expensive county in Oregon for child care was Washington County, where the average annual cost was $12,348 for toddler care. Multnomah, Benton and Clackamas counties followed closely as the most expensive.
- Rural counties in general suffer from a lack of resources. Many rural areas do not have enough family day care providers or child care centers to meet the needs of the communities.
Bobbie Weber, 541-737-9243
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A comprehensive new study of more than 7,000 species of fish documents for the first time correlation on a grand scale between the rapidity of the origin of the species and the rate of morphological change.
In other words, groups of fish that rapidly split into new species tend to quickly evolve diversity in physical traits, such as the size of their bodies, while others described by Charles Darwin as “living fossils” because of their prehistoric characteristics show little change over millions of years in either numbers of species or types of morphologies.
The study is important because it links speciation with morphological adaptation on a scale that has never been done. It also demonstrates that variation in a single evolutionary process may create both living fossils and adaptive radiations, which are two of the most famous and celebrated phenomena in the history of life, the authors say.
Findings of the study are being published this week in Nature Communications.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers created a “Tree of Life” of ray-finned fishes, which comprise a majority of vertebrate biological diversity, to compare evolutionary rates across all families of fishes. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Miller Institute at University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA, and featured scientists from the University of Michigan, UCLA, University of Torino, University of Idaho, and Oregon State University.
“We were able to document the link between speciation and morphological evolution, but the question remains as to whether the speciation process itself leads to changes in anatomy or whether something in the anatomically diverse lineages promotes speciation,” said Daniel Rabosky, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan and co-lead author on the study.
Co-lead author Michael Alfaro, a UCLA scientist who specializes in the evolution of marine fishes, said one key facet in the correlation between evolutionary and morphological change is body size.
“The fastest speciating fish typically also had the fastest rate of size evolution,” Alfaro said. “It didn’t seem to matter whether they were freshwater or marine fish, or lived in cold or warm environments – the correlation was amazingly consistent. Changes in body size were closely linked to speciation, but whether one causes the other isn’t yet clear.”
The research team synthesized existing data from GenBank, FishBase and other sources to create their comprehensive phylogenetic tree of living fishes, which is one of the largest trees ever assembled for any group of animals.
Inclusion of so many species was critical to investigating body size evolution at such a grand scale.
Co-author Brian Sidlauskas, an Oregon State University ichthyologist specializing in the conservation of freshwater fish, said the study helps illustrate and explain the differences between dynamic groups of fish, characterized by African cichlids, and living fossils such as sturgeon and gars.
“Cichlids are the poster children for explosive adaptive radiation, having rapidly diversified into a vast number of species with different characteristics,” said Sidlauskas, who curates the Oregon State University Ichthyology Collection in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. “Whitefishes are another example. They have only been in glacial lakes for a few thousand years, yet they already have branched repeatedly into two or three different morphologies, including some that feed on the bottom and others in mid-water.”
Based on the new results, cichlids and whitefishes fall into the 10 percent of fastest-evolving and speciating fishes, along with rockfishes, snailfishes, pufferfishes and several other groups.
“Sturgeon and gars are just the opposite, showing remarkably few changes over millions of years and little tendency to speciate,” Sidlauskas noted. “It isn’t just ecological opportunity. If you put a handful of gars into the Rift Lakes of Africa, it is doubtful they would have evolved much. Yet cichlids evolved into hundreds of different species with different morphologies. Something in the wiring differs from one group of fish to another, and that’s what we need to investigate next.”
The authors say that although their study focused on ray-finned fishes, the same correlation potentially may be applicable to other branches of the Tree of Life, including mammals, birds, insects, plants and snails.College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Brian Sidlauskas, 541-737-6789, Brian.Sidlauskas@oregonstate.eduMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
"This evolutionary tree shows the relationships between nearly 8,000 living species of fishes. Red branches denote groups with fast rates of body size change, blue branches indicate slow body size change, and the length of each branch reflects the speed at which groups split into new species. Illustration courtesy of Dan Rabosky."
Scientists have created a new assay to detect a toxin that has caused enormous losses in the Pacific Northwest oyster industry, which should ultimately help oyster growers reduce future losses.
The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/11nabvq
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University have developed a new, inexpensive and precise way to detect the toxin secreted by Vibrio tubiashii, a bacterial disease that a few years ago caused millions of dollars in losses to the oyster aquaculture industry in the Pacific Northwest.
When perfected and commercialized, the new assay should give oyster growers an early warning system to tell when they have a problem with high levels of this toxin and must take quick steps to address it. Findings were just published in the Journal of Microbiological Methods.
V. tubiashii has caused major problems for oyster growers in recent years, especially in 2007 when a major outbreak almost crippled the industry. When the bacteria and the toxin it produces reach unacceptably high levels, they can kill the tiny seed oysters before they have a chance to grow.
“We still need to improve the sensitivity of the test and better quantify results, but it should provide information in about 30 minutes that used to take three or four days,” said Frances Biel, a faculty research assistant in the OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences. “That type of rapid detection will let oyster growers know they have a problem while they can still do something about it.”
The oyster die-offs that began happening in the late 2000s appear to have various causes, researchers say, including changes in ocean acidification. Some measures were taken to help deal with the acidification, but widespread die-offs continued to occur that couldn’t be linked to that problem. The vibriosis disease caused by this bacteria was found to be a major concern. The largest shellfish hatchery on the West Coast, in Oregon’s Netarts Bay, faced near closure as a result of this crisis.
“Shockingly little was known about V. tubiashii at first, and the toxins that it produces,” said Claudia Hase, an OSU associate professor of veterinary medicine. “It secretes a zinc-metalloprotease compound that’s toxic to shellfish, and that’s what our new assay is able to detect.”
Besides oysters, this bacteria and toxin can also affect shrimp, clams and other marine species important to aquaculture.
The new assay uses a “dipstick” that has proven superior to another approach which was tested, and conceptually it’s similar to a human pregnancy test. It uses monoclonal antibodies that recognize the particular toxic protein of concern.
Marine food farming around the world depends on hatchery and nursery production of large quantities of high quality, disease-free larvae, experts said. Vibriosis in various species has been linked to major problems around the world since the late 1970s. This and other research at OSU has made significant progress in understanding the pathogenicity and toxicity of V. tubiashii.
Aside from farmed oysters and other seafood, there have also been declines of wild shellfish in some locations in recent years on the West Coast. It’s likely that increasing levels of vibriosis are related to that, researchers said. Declining coral reefs also suffer from a closely related bacterial species.
This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.College of Veterinary Medicine Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Claudia Hase, 541-737-7001Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
A new study finds that utilities aren't rewarded for adopting energy efficiency programs, and that reforms are needed to make energy efficiency as attractive as renewables.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study finds that utilities aren't rewarded for adopting energy efficiency programs, and that reforms are needed to make energy efficiency as attractive as renewables.
The article, just published in the current issue of Environmental Law, examines key differences between energy efficiency projects and renewable resources. Author Inara Scott, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, outlines ways to increase the amount of energy utilities save each year through efficiency programs.
“Right now, the system actually discourages utilities from building programs to increase efficiency,” she said. “We need to start addressing efficiency as we do renewable energy – by looking at it systemically and removing the barriers.”
Scott spent a decade as a lawyer specializing in energy and regulatory law. Her research in the College of Business centers on the transformation of utility systems, clean energy, energy efficiency, and utility regulation.
Her study makes four key recommendations: redesigning rate structures, setting hard targets, streamlining cost-effective tests and addressing market barriers.
Cost-recovery systems for many investor-owned utilities in the United States are based on an old rate structure model – the more energy that is produced, the higher return for shareholders. “You don’t want to penalize utilities for selling less energy,” Scott said.
Instead, she said, states can use ratemaking mechanisms to decouple the link between utility sales and revenues and establish performance incentives for the adoption of efficiency programs.
“Decoupling mechanisms may add complexity to utility rate structures, but they are essential to eliminating environmentally nonsensical ratemaking models that reward utilities for higher sales and penalize them for efficiency.”
Setting hard targets is doable, she said. The state of Oregon has set a goal for 25 percent of its energy to be consumed through renewables by 2025. Scott said other states also could set aspirational goals for energy efficiency.
“If states are committed to reducing the strain on the electric grid, diversifying utility resource portfolios, reducing dependence on foreign markets, and reducing carbon emissions through the adoption of renewable resources, they should be just as willing to do so through the adoption of energy efficiency as they are through the purchase of renewable resources.”
Streamlining cost-effectiveness tests will be difficult, Scott said, because a simple, accurate way to measure energy efficiency does not exist. “The difficulty is that you’re trying to measure energy you didn’t use. So really, you’re measuring something that doesn’t exist.”
Many of the tests that do exist are so complicated that they may discourage utilities from adopting energy efficiency. Issues with cost-effectiveness testing will be difficult to fully remedy, Scott said, but these steps —conducting assessments at a programmatic level, streamlining the precision of tests, and considering the development of national standards — will move the bar forward.
Market barriers, Scott said, can be addressed through incentives. Some states, including Colorado and Michigan, have increased the size of incentives for consumers to take on energy efficiency programs (including, in some cases, reimbursing consumers 100 percent of their investment) and finding ways to make incentives more attractive to customers through advertising and education.
“There needs to be better marketing around efficiency,” Scott said. “We need to make increasing energy efficiency as attractive as opting for ‘green’ or ‘salmon-friendly’ renewables.”College of Business Media Contact: Angela Yeager Source:
Inara Scott, 541-737-4102
OSU engineering students developed an airplane navigation system that's based on old approaches but has been made smaller, simpler and more accurate with modern technology.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Research at Oregon State University has developed a new airplane navigation system based on concepts that were developed in the 1940s but are still popular and affordable, and it uses new technology to make the system even smaller, simpler and more accurate.
The new product is just one inch tall – half the size of other navigational systems on the market – and should be of special interest for the homebuilt airplane market, its designers say.
It was created by three OSU seniors in electrical and computer engineering and improves UHF-VHF technology. Called the NAV 2000, the system is the newest product for VAL Avionics, an Oregon company that already has several orders pending.
The navigation system receives and processes signals and a separate navigational indicator unit translates the information for the pilot. It’s compatible with several indicator systems including the old-style needle display, and a more modern video display called an electronic flight instrument system.
According to the developers, this approach is more affordable than the use of newer and more expensive GPS technology.
“Much of the equipment that is out there still uses the old analog technology,” said James MacInnes, one of the student designers. “As an aspiring electrical engineer, I felt that we should look at simplifying and improving upon that technology to receive the UHF-VHF signal.”
The system can direct pilots from point-to-point using signals broadcast by airport and other towers, and guide airplanes for landings with existing runway transmitters. The unit conveys both horizontal and vertical information which allows pilots to land even in poor visibility conditions.
“I’m incredibly impressed with how accurate the students have been able to make this system,” said Jim Harr, president of VAL Avionics. “It's more accurate than anything I've seen.”College of Engineering Media Contact:
Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098Source:
CORVALLIS, Ore. – With the growing number of Americans over the age of 65 already at an all-time high, caring for elderly parents or partners is becoming a common experience. At the June 10 Corvallis Science Pub, two speakers will discuss their research on caregiving.
The Oregon State University researchers will focus on reducing stress, protecting the mental and physical health of caregivers and on the relationship between the givers and recipients of care.
The Science Pub presentation begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, located at 341 S.W. Second St. in Corvallis. It is free and open to the public.
The speakers are Karen Hooker and Carolyn Mendez-Luck of the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Hooker is the Jo Anne Leonard Endowed Director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research. Her research focuses on perception of the self in understanding mental and physical health. She has examined caregiving for people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Mendez-Luck is an assistant professor of human development and family sciences as well as health management and policy. She has studied family caregiving and aging-related health disparities in Latino families.
College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact: Nick Houtman Source:
Karen Hooker, 541-737-4336
Carolyn Mendez-Luck, 541-737-4503
A new study by an international team of researchers documents how ocean "denitrification" accelerated during the last deglaciation, creating oxygen-poor zones.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – As ice sheets melted during the deglaciation of the last ice age and global oceans warmed, oceanic oxygen levels decreased and “denitrification” accelerated by 30 to 120 percent, a new international study shows, creating oxygen-poor marine regions and throwing the oceanic nitrogen cycle off balance.
By the end of the deglaciation, however, the oceans had adjusted to their new warmer state and the nitrogen cycle had stabilized – though it took several millennia. Recent increases in global warming, thought to be caused by human activities, are raising concerns that denitrification may adversely affect marine environments over the next few hundred years, with potentially significant effects on ocean food webs.
Results of the study have been published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience. It was supported by the National Science Foundation.
“The warming that occurred during deglaciation some 20,000 to 10,000 years ago led to a reduction of oxygen gas dissolved in sea water and more denitrification, or removal of nitrogen nutrients from the ocean,” explained Andreas Schmittner, an Oregon State University oceanographer and author on the Nature Geoscience paper. “Since nitrogen nutrients are needed by algae to grow, this affects phytoplankton growth and productivity, and may also affect atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.”
“This study shows just what happened in the past, and suggests that decreases in oceanic oxygen that will likely take place under future global warming scenarios could mean more denitrification and fewer nutrients available for phytoplankton,” Schmittner added.
In their study, the scientists analyzed more than 2,300 seafloor core samples, and created 76 time series of nitrogen isotopes in those sediments spanning the past 30,000 years. They discovered that during the last glacial maximum, the Earth’s nitrogen cycle was at a near steady state. In other words, the amount of nitrogen nutrients added to the oceans – known as nitrogen fixation – was sufficient to compensate for the amount lost by denitrification.
A lack of nitrogen can essentially starve a marine ecosystem by not providing enough nutrients. Conversely, too much nitrogen can create an excess of plant growth that eventually decays and uses up the oxygen dissolved in sea water, suffocating fish and other marine organisms.
Following the period of enhanced denitrification and nitrogen loss during deglaciation, the world’s oceans slowly moved back toward a state of near stabilization. But there are signs that recent rates of global warming may be pushing the nitrogen cycle out of balance.
“Measurements show that oxygen is already decreasing in the ocean,” Schmittner said “The changes we saw during deglaciation of the last ice age happened over thousands of years. But current warming trends are happening at a much faster rate than in the past, which almost certainly will cause oceanic changes to occur more rapidly.
“It still may take decades, even centuries to unfold,” he added.
Schmittner and Christopher Somes, a former graduate student in the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, developed a model of nitrogen isotope cycling in the ocean, and compared that with the nitrogen measurements from the seafloor sediments. Their sensitivity experiments with the model helped to interpret the complex patterns seen in the observations.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Andreas Schmittner, 541-737-9952; firstname.lastname@example.org
CORVALLIS, Ore. – NASA astronaut Stanley G. Love will discuss asteroids, how we might send people to explore them, and how to protect the Earth from them in a free public lecture at Oregon State University on Wednesday, June 5.
The presentation, “Near-Earth Asteroids: Threats and Opportunities,” will be in LaSells Stewart Center’s Construction and Engineering Hall beginning at 4 p.m.
Asteroids have been of recent interest with the fireball above the Ural Mountains in Russia, the near-Earth passing of Asteroid 2012 DA14, and the upcoming pass of Asteroid 1998 QE2.
Love, a graduate of Churchill High School in Eugene, is the co-inventor of the “gravity tractor,” a novel method to controllably modify the orbits of hazardous asteroids.
He also flew in space for more than 12 days on the space shuttle Atlantis in 2008, including two spacewalks, 203 Earth orbits, and operation of the shuttle’s robotic arms while working on the International Space Station.Generic OSU Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Mark Huey, 541-737-8260
CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University faculty member has won a major international prize for his mediation efforts in water conflicts.
Aaron Wolf, a geography professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, has been named a 2013 recipient of Il Monito del Giardino (The Warning from the Garden) Award by the Bardini and Peyron Monumental Parks Foundation of Florence, Italy.
The honor is given to persons who have distinguished themselves internationally in safeguarding the environment and raising awareness of ecological issues. The 2012 recipient was Jane Goodall.
Wolf will receive his award next week June in Florence.
The scientific committee cited Wolf’s involvement in striving for more democratic access to the world’s water sources. “The value of his work has come to be recognized on the world stage, mediation work in controversies relative to water’s being at the center of the geopolitical scences that are very delicate, such as that of the Mideast.”
Wolf has traveled throughout the world as both a scientist and a mediator in the area of water conflicts. He has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, and numerous governments.
He directs the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, and developed the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute database, which includes a compilation of 400 water-related treaties as well as information on water conflicts and resolution.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Aaron Wolf, 541-737-2722; email@example.comMultimedia Downloads Multimedia: