Science Moab Postings

By December 19, 2018 Science Moab

Wildlife’s ability to move through the landscape unhindered is essential to species survival. Here we why how wildlife corridors might be the best chance to preserve the different members of ecosystems with Dr. Paul Beier a professor in the School of Forestry from Northern Arizona University. As a conservation biologist Dr. Beier studies wildlife corridors, protected areas that allow wildlife to move from one natural area to another without being stopped by human made barriers. These corridors are important not just for allowing the movement and exchange of genetic material, but also for maintaining the integrity and functions of whole ecosystems

The Colorado River is one of the main forces shaping the landscape around the Colorado Plateau. Here we talk with Dr. Joel Pederson and tease apart the Colorado River and the forces and processes that result in the landscapes we see around us. We explore the unanswered questions about erosion in Moab, Utah and the central Colorado Plateau.

Plants have many and incredible chemical compounds that they use to survive in our desert. These chemical compounds found in plants can have interactions that structure whole ecosystems. Here we explore the many and incredible ways that chemical compounds work to defend plants and what chemical ecology can teach us about the deserts around us with Dr. Adrienne Godschalx.

This show explores ecological change on the Colorado Plateau over time with Dr. Laura Huenneke. She explains the kinds of changes that have occurred and dissects the types of management actions available to address current and future landscape changes.

The way that trees are arranged in a forest can be more important than it seems. This interview with Dr. Andrew Sanchez-Meador explores the composition of forests in the Southwest and why changes to forest structure can influence how the forest works.

Moab Utah is home to an incredible number of dinosaur tracks. Here we speak with BLM paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster about why there are some many tracks around Moab, how tracks are studied, and what we can learn about prehistoric ecology through these fossilized footprints.

Pinyon-juniper forests and woodlands are found across the Colorado Plateau. These ecosystems are expanding into new areas where they have not been in human memory, at the same time increased temperatures and reduced precipitation due to climate change are resulting in huge mortality events of pinyon and some juniper trees. Here, Dr. Nichole Barger helps break down this dichotomy.

Out in desert ecosystems, plants are interacting with one another in unseen ways. Here, Dr. Alex Filazzola explains the many and surprising ways that plants living side by side can affect one another. These effects can play a big role in how ecosystems are ultimately structured, with lessons for how we manage and restore our landscapes.

Biological soil crusts are an enigmatic sight on the Colorado Plateau. In this show, we explore what biocrusts are doing out in the desert. We speak with Colin Tucker and Natalie Day to learn about the research and efforts going on to understand and restore these fragile soil communities.

The tamarisk beetles has reshaped riparian areas along the Colorado River. Here, we talk with Tim Graham about his work monitoring these biocontrols. We learn about the history of testing and releasing the tamarisk beetle, how the beetle has done with controlling tamarisk along our rivers, and why the dead tamarisk we now often see serve important ecological functions for our riparian areas.

A show about seeds waiting in the desert soil with Dr. Akasha Faist. We find out what kinds of seeds are underneath the soil, what they need to germinate, and how scientists study the surprisingly mysterious world of soil seed banks.

As both the fire season and the amount of fire continue to increase in the Southwest, researchers and managers are working to figure out the best ways to reduce the sometimes incredible amounts of erosion that happen after wildfire. We speak with Henry Grover who studies the native mosses that can colonize hill slopes after severe fires. His work explores both the ecology and application of these mosses as a way to restore burned areas.

Desertified and degraded are words often used when talking about drylands. But what do these words actually mean? And how do they shape the ways we think about managing and restoring drylands? Here we talk with Dr. Brandon Bestelmeyer, who has studied drylands both in the Southwest and around the world. We explore what kinds of transitions drylands have undergone, and how they will continue to change into the future.

Humans have been using and modifying the ecosystems around on the Colorado Plateau for thousands of years. To understand human relationships with the land, we talk with Kate Magargal, who combines archaeology and ecology to ask how people who lived in the Southwest interacted with the landscape around them, specifically through gathering food, wood, and using fire as a tool. We explore what her findings can tell us about how to manage our landscapes into the future.

The desert both breathes out and pulls in carbon to and from the atmosphere. Here we talk with Dr. Anthony Darrouzet-Nardi about that process by exploring a field called biogeochemistry. We hear about the different kinds of carbon that exists in ecosystems, and how it is transformed and moved through the fascinating and dynamic carbon cycle.

On this show, we explore a field called geomorphology with Christopher Ely. We hear about Amazonian headwater streams in the Andes Mountains of southern Ecuador, and how the tools used to studying these high elevation streams can be applied to studying rivers and streams around the world and here on the Colorado Plateau.

What were mammals like when dinosaurs roamed the earth? We explore the fascinating world of mammals living at the time of dinosaurs with Dr. Brian Davis. We learn about what they ate, who ate them, and how these small creatures evolved to become the mammals we see today.

The Colorado Plateau holds an incredible amount of native plant diversity, however past and current land use practices and future climate change threaten the diversity and abundance of our native plant species. Here, with Dr. Daniel Winkler, we explore how land management programs and non-profit partners are using programs like Seeds of Success and the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program to collect native seeds and make them available for research and restoration.

A fascinating look at the relationships between pollinators and plants, how they evolved to work together, the types of pollinators we have on the Colorado Plateau. We hear from Molly McCormick about how efforts to increase pollinator number and what the future holds for pollinators in the Southwest.

There are many efforts going on within our national park to restore degraded ecosystems. From using biological controls, to weeding and seeding, to anticipating the effects of climate change, the national parks of southeastern Utah are actively being managed to return or maintain ecological function. Here, we speak with NPS ecologist Liz Ballenger about what ecological restoration means for national parks within the Colorado Plateau.

Climate change will result in lasting changes for the ecosystems of the Colorado Plateau. Here, we talk with Dr. Scott Ferrenberg about what this region may look like in the future. We learn how scientists study climate change and how our ecological communities are expected to change as the planet warms.

This show examines how people living in the desert southwest in the past may have differentiated between communal places where everyone was welcome, and private places like granaries and dwellings. Through studying these differentiations, Elizabeth Hora-Cook tries to understand what society may have been like for Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan people.

Cheatgrass is one of the most pervasive, non-native grasses in the American West, changing ecosystems almost everywhere it goes. Here, we talk with Dr. Jayne Belnap, a world renowned scientist from Moab, Utah, who has studied how this invasive grass has changed ecosystems around the Southwest. We talk about where cheatgrass came from, how it got here, and how it has and will likely continue to transform southwestern landscapes.

There is shocking little known about why animals behave the ways they do. From competition, to territoriality, there is an incredible amount left to discover about how animals behave. Here, we speak with Dr. Kenny Chapin who explains what we know about animal behavior and some of the ways researchers ask questions to understand why animals act the ways they do.

The geology of the Colorado Plateau is amazingly exposed and incredibly dramatic. Here, we get to hear about the forces and slow passage of time that shaped the Plateau as we see it today. We hear from Drs. Scott Ritter and Tom Morris as they walk us through iconic and lesser known places, describing why our landscape looks like the way it does.

Bark beetles evolved to live in western forests. But in recent decades the number of beetles has grown so large that they are killing millions of acres of trees. Here, we talk to Dr. Richard Hofstetter about these now infamous beetles. We learn about what these beetles do for forests, what happens when their numbers swell out of control, and the acoustic research that might help keep them in check.

Water can be a formidable force in the desert. From carving canyons to cutting arroyos, water has the power to form the landscapes around us. Today on Science Moab, we learn how water shapes the earth with Dr. Taylor Joyal, a fluvial-geo-morphologist studying earth shaping processes

When you’re walking over the desert soil, you’re walking over huge amounts of fungi. These fungi are connected to the roots of grasses and shrubs, gathering the nutrients these plants need to survive. Here, we speak with world renowned soil ecologist Dr. Nancy Johnson and hear about the evolutionary past and current roles of these understudied and truly fascinating organisms.

In the deserts, the soil surface is alive. The soil is covered with lichens, mosses, cyanobacteria, algae, fungi and other microorganisms that together are called biological soil crusts. Here, we talk with Dr. Matthew Bowker who studies these cryptic communities and works to put them back into the landscape.

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