January 30, 2009
January 28, 2009
ANR Statewide Conference: “Defining Our Future: Putting Science to Work in an Interconnected World”
Attention CNR Academics & Staff:
Registration is now open for the ANR Statewide Conference, “Defining Our Future: Putting Science to Work in an Interconnected World,” at the Sacramento Doubletree on April 27-30, 2009.
UC President Mark Yudof, Regent Fred Ruiz and VP Dooley will open the conference.
Conference topics include the ANR strategic plan and the road map for ANR to achieve its vision for 2025.
There will also be advocacy training sessions and breakout sessions on ANR programs. A reception for state legislators, legislative staff and other decision makers will showcase ANR programs and California agricultural products.
Successful habitat conservation may depend heavily on non-conserved land
Most habitat conservation efforts focus on preserving large patches of wild landscapes, but it seems that conservationists would do well to improve the habitat quality of the surrounding land, as well.
The findings of two CNR researchers published recently in the Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contain several take-home lessons for conservation biologists and land managers.
One of the primary theories in island biogeography states that the size of an island and its degree of isolation are proportional to the amount of biodiversity the island can support. For oceanic islands such as Hawaii and Easter Island, this theory appears well supported by hard data. Ecologists have also tried to apply the same reasoning to continental ecosystems: Certain patches of land will have features such as a specific plant or certain environmental conditions that make it good habitat for a given species, and these patches are surrounded by relatively inhospitable lands that lack these amenities.
Video: Honey Bee Pollination Crisis - Professor Claire Kremen at the Commonwealth Club
Monoculture farming leaves us highly dependent on honey bees, whose pollination affects 75 percent of fruits and vegetables and 30 percent of all food production. However, managed hives are being wiped out by colony collapse disorder at an alarming rate.
Professor Claire Kremen discusses how wild bees can boost the effectiveness of managed hives and play a critical role in pollinating the crops that keep California's economy humming.
Watch the video below or download the podcast.
January 13, 2009
Mice without key enzyme eat without becoming obese
Researchers CNR have identified a new enzyme that plays a far more important role than expected in controlling the breakdown of fat. In a new study in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers report that mice that have had this enzyme disabled remained lean despite eating a high-fat diet and losing a hormone that suppresses appetite.
"We have discovered a new enzyme within fat cells that is a key regulator of fat metabolism and body weight, making it a promising target in the search for a treatment for human obesity," said Hei Sook Sul, professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology and principal investigator of the research.
Sul's research team includes the three co-lead authors of the paper, all from UC Berkeley's Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology: Kathy Jaworski, former post-doctoral researcher; Maryam Ahmadian, graduate student; and Robin Duncan, post-doctoral fellow.
January 2, 2009
Household Exposure To Toxic Chemicals Lurks Unrecognized
Although Americans are becoming increasingly aware of toxic chemical exposure from everyday household products like bisphenol A in some baby bottles and lead in some toys, women do not readily connect typical household products with personal chemical exposure and related adverse health effects, according to research from the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Rachel Morello-Frosch, an epidemiologist and environmental health scientist within ESPM and the School of Public Health, is a co-author of the study.
“People more readily equate pollution with large-scale contamination and environmental disasters, yet the products and activities that form the backdrop to our everyday lives — electronics, cleaners, beauty products, food packaging — are a significant source of daily personal chemical exposure that accumulates over time,” said Brown University sociologist Rebecca Gasior Altman, lead author of the study.
Altman, Morello-Frosch, and the team examined how women interpreted and reacted to information about chemical contamination in their homes and bodies. After reviewing their personal chemical exposure data, most women were surprised and puzzled at the number of contaminants detected. They initially had difficulty relating the chemical results for their homes, located in rural and suburban communities, with their images of environmental problems, which they associated with toxic contamination originating outside the home from military or industrial activities, accidents or dumping.
Double Trouble for Hemlock Forests
From Science Now;
Hemlock forests are in a world of hurt. Across the eastern United States, an aphid-like pest is ravaging the trees, while booming populations of deer devour other native plants. Now, researchers have shown that the combination of these two threats adds up to even more trouble for the native ecosystem by favoring the invasion of weeds.
Researchers first noticed the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), a 1.5-millimeter-long insect from Asia, in an arboretum near Richmond, Virginia, in 1951. The bugs feed on starch in new twigs and can kill trees in just 3 years. As the hemlocks die, exotic plants such as garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) have been spreading and altering the habitat that native species rely on. Anne Eschtruth, then a graduate student in ESPM and now a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Forestry, wondered how the two phenomena were linked.
According to a study co-authored by Eschtruth and John Battles, associate professor of ecosystem sciences, which appeared in Conservation Biology in December. Two factors appear to be involved... ,
Read the full article at http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/1219/3