Excerpt: Predators often get a bad rap in our densely populated modern world. Between the billions of livestock roaming the countryside and our ever-expanding city limits, predators are regularly removed from the environment. For much of our history this meant little to us; not all that long ago there was a marked absence in our understanding of how these animals fit into the ecosystem as a whole. However Oregon State University’s own Dr. Bill Ripple made a discovery in the late 90s that shed some light on their unique roles and has ultimately led to collaboration with researchers around the world.
Ripple, now a Distinguished Professor and well known researcher, was just doing what comes naturally when he is curious. We call this the Ripple Effect. What exactly is the Ripple Effect you may wonder? In short it is the insatiable quest to unravel the mysteries of the natural world that is triggered when Ripple gets intrigued. However the easiest way to understand this phenomena of nature is to study the habitat, if you will, in which Ripple has evolved – and that is what we are here to do.
Excerpt: Andrew Millison’s yard is like a jungle. Not just an ordinary jungle, but a veritable cornucopia of flowers, herbs, food, and living materials. While certainly eclectic at first glance, after listening to Millison speak, a sort of order emerges through the chaos. Upon further investigation, one becomes aware of the underlying philosophy of this permaculture landscape.
I had some time to walk Millison’s yard while he got ready to give me a tour. The front is less a yard and more a series of paths situated between pea vines, herbs, and a living chair of interwoven willow known as the Throne. An archway of woven willow provides a portal to the sidewalk while a sturdy board bridges a small overflow pond to the front door. Everywhere bees zip in and out of shady pockets, pollinating the profusion of plant life.
Millison himself is a permaculture designer and instructor. Through the OSU Extension Service Millison offers a series of online permaculture design courses culminating in a permaculture design certification. His work as a designer began in the dry lands of Arizona where issues of water conservation and torrential heat are forefront. Although the conditions are different here, the thought process remains the same wherever you are.
Excerpt: We all owe a huge thanks to the tiny honeybee. While doggedly pollinating most crops of vital importance and underpinning much of our existence here on Earth, the honeybee is buzzing a fine line between MVP of the insect world and ceasing to exist altogether. Pointing to steep declines in managed honeybee colonies, the Obama administration has announced a $50 million spending plan for a multi-agency response effort. The White House added that 90 commercially grown crops in North America are dependent on pollinators, and that honeybees contribute $15 billion to the U.S. economy.
Excerpt: Could Oregon’s commitment to sustainable and renewable energy production be going up in smoke? Thanks to the lifting of an oil export ban in December 2015 that prevented US companies from exporting crude and lightly refined oils, the dream of green is now confronted with increased fossil fuel traffic up and down the West Coast. The implications of lifting said ban falls heavily on the Pacific Northwest’s shoulders as the oil industry looks to fashion the region into an international export depot.
Excerpt:Corvallis Coyote Conflicts
Oak Creek Coyote on Trail Cam
The coyote is often depicted in Native American lore as a trickster. The sly younger brother of the wolf, the coyote deceives, yet teaches man about art and culture. Credited for bringing fire to man, the coyote has a more sinister side to its reputation. Some lore tells of danger, destruction, irresponsibility—of coyotes pervading the lives of those around them. Coyotes have, in a similar sense, sparked a current national debate as to the ethics and economics of how we view wildlife in North America.
On one hand, many researchers and activists are on the ground collecting data and publishing their findings in support of new control methods. Simultaneously, thousands of tax dollars are being funneled into federal trapping and gunning programs which are often successful only in the short term.
How Did They Become Such a Nuisance?
An informative packet by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife titled Living with Wildlife: Coyotes, describes coyotes as comparable in appearance to the German shepherd with similar pointed ears, slender muzzle, and a bushy tail. A typical coyote is about two feet tall at the shoulder, weighs 25 to 45 pounds, and has a “distinctive voice, consisting of various howls, high-pitched yips, and occasional dog-like barks.” Their coats vary by habitat but generally consist of tan, brown, grey, and black.
In the world of biological terminology, the coyote is known as a generalist species. Generalists are able to adapt to a variety of habitats, are capable of eating an array of foods, and are quick to respond to changes in environment. Other generalists include raccoons, skunks, and baboons—notice these are all common creatures found near human development and habitually regarded as nuisances.
Excerpt:Dominican Amber Produces Again
OSU researchers struck gold when they discovered a new potentially toxic species of flower preserved in amber. Reminiscent of Jurassic Park, tiny flowers no bigger than a centimeter were plucked from the bowels of a cave system in the Dominican Republic 15 to 45 million years after becoming lodged in tree sap and compressed by the Earth. While the team may not be drilling for DNA, the find represents the first fossilized specimens of the asterids clade in this region.
Excerpt: OSU Suspends International Program
OSU is topping the state for foreign exchange students, yet dropping their International Degree program. Technically the degree program has been suspended and is currently under review, though there is some worry it might slip through the cracks.
Vice Provost of International Programs Mark Hoffman has declared that concerns have been raised and he believes students’ interests have changed since the program’s inception in 1992. However, the true nature of these concerns and the program review remain ambiguous.