Plant data is collected from a fen that sits at 11,000 feet near Mount Emmons on the Gunnison National Forest in Colorado. (U.S. Forest Service)
Sloshing through a wet meadow in ankle deep water, I am surrounded by thick mats of sedges, rushes and some beautiful wildflowers. This saturated meadow lies in the shadows of the 13,000-foot Sheep Mountain peak near Trout Lake, Colorado. It is a scenic spot, rich in plant diversity, but also a unique habitat in Colorado.
I am visiting this lush, high-altitude wetland with the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests’ lead hydrologist, Gary Shellhorn who explains that this wet meadow is called a fen. Fens are peat-forming wetlands, created when wetland plants die leaving mats of dead and decaying plant matter. Fens are sustained by mineral-enriched groundwater, which is less acidic. For this reason fens support a more diverse plant and animal community. In southern Colorado, it takes about 2,000 years to accumulate eight inches of peat at a fen. This suggests that most fens are 4,000 to 10,000 years old. Read more »
A high-magnification image of the spores and spore-bearing cells of the same fungus, Beauveria bassiana, taken from a Diabrotica beetle in Oregon.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
If you want to find a fungus that controls disease-spreading insects, you might want to go somewhere known for its biodiversity. So it makes sense that USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Richard Humber will be traveling to Brazil over the next three years to join Brazilian scientists in searching for fungi to control black flies, sand flies and the types of mosquitoes that spread malaria, dengue and yellow fever.
Fungi are now used to control insects on crops. Beauveria bassiana, a fungus found in soils throughout the world, is widely sold for controlling thrips, whiteflies, aphids and beetles. Different types of fungi are also sometimes used to control mosquitoes, but they are not easy to handle or to apply, and their effectiveness has been questioned. Read more »
A male sockeye swims in Alaska’s Steep Creek on the Tongass National Forest. Just below the sockeye are coho fry. (U.S. Forest Service/Pete Schneider)
NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, we moved the salmon cam to the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OuM4U3Z1jU
Gordie Reeves looks at salmon the way a man would look at pictures of his family. For Reeves, the salmon species is pretty much the best fish species around.
“They are dandelions of the fish world,” said Reeves, a research fish ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. “They have this mechanism or strategy for persisting. We are under the illusion that everything in a stream should be perfect all the time, but that’s not true. It’s not the way the world works. Salmon do a terrific job under really incredible odds.”
Nature lovers can get a glimpse of salmon runs through a live streaming video. For the second year, the Forest Service is streaming from the bed of Juneau’s Steep Creek on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Read more »
Hallie Robinson, left, and NRCS District Conservationist Lori Bataller, survey the rapid growth of produce in the high tunnel. NRCS photo.
Hallie Robinson farms a small piece of land with an enormous amount of energy and excitement. She and her husband, William Robinson, farm three acres of vegetables and raise ducks, geese, goats and cows in Lee County, S.C.
They moved to the farm in 1979, and much of her farm knowledge comes from her great-grandfather, Joe Jenkins, who worked the same land.
She was inspired by his dedication and passion for farming, and she has strived to continue working the land with the conservation ethic that he taught her. She is following his example by farming for a bountiful harvest while ensuring that her impact on natural resources – such as water and soil – is positive, and not harmful. Read more »
Support for those affected by disasters is critical. By developing more comprehensive tools that prepare citizens and government before the next event helps. Helping communities rebuild and become more resilient to extreme weather in the future is vital.
Citizens need to be able to access accurate information in real time, before, during and after these devastating events. The growing open data collaboration between data producers and data users can help with recovery efforts while being more transparent and local. Read more »
Next week, I, along with dozens of staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will have the pleasure of joining thousands of school nutrition professionals, members of the public health community, and food industry representatives in Boston at the 68th Annual National Conference of the School Nutrition Association (SNA). This annual event provides an opportunity for stakeholders in the school nutrition community to network, gain ideas, and learn from one another.
As a past president of SNA myself, I look forward to this meeting each year. Being surrounded by dedicated nutrition professionals who all want to make sure we are providing the best possible support to our nation’s children, and hearing about all the creative approaches schools are using to successfully serve healthy school meals is quite a treat. I am excited to be able to meet with members of the community one-on-one, and hear firsthand about their successes, as well as their challenges. I also look forward to speaking to the larger audience during the second general session on Tuesday. My USDA colleagues will be on-hand throughout the conference to gather more feedback and provide additional information, technical assistance and other support to school nutrition professionals. Read more »