By Sarah Yang and Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media Relations
A paper reviewing the impact of the loss of large predators and herbivores high in the food chain confirms that their decline has had cascading effects in marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems throughout the world.
The paper, published in the July 15 issue of the journal Science by an international team of 24 researchers, presented evidence highlighting the reverberating – and often unexpected – effects the loss of “apex consumers” have had not only on immediate prey species, but also on the dynamics of fire, disease, vegetation growth, and soil and water quality.
“This is the first paper to bring together studies that present strong empirical evidence of what naturalists and ecologists have long suspected,” said Justin Brashares, UC Berkeley associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Brashares and Mary Power, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, worked closely on the study with lead author James Estes, adjunct professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz.
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By: Wiley-Blackwell, Wiley Life Sciences
Photos by: Renee Warbler and Colleen Cassidy
Frequently Captured Birds Found to be at Less Risk of Injury Compared to Birds Captured Once
Capturing birds using mist nets to study behaviour, movement or the demographics of a species is one of the most common research techniques in ornithology, yet until now there have been no large scale studies into the risks mist nets pose to birds. Writing in the British Ecological Society’s Methods in Ecology and Evolution researchers from California used a dataset of over 345,000 records to evaluate the risks of mist netting.
The research, led by Erica Spotswood from the University of California at Berkeley, used data from organisations across the United States and Canada to assess the risk factors which could increase rates of injury or mortality including bird size, age, frequency of capture and the role of predators.
The results revealed that birds are rarely injured or killed by mist nets. Of 620,997 captures the percentage of incidents of injury amounting to 0.59% while only 0.23% of captures resulted in mortality. The authors then began to analyse risk factors which could lead to increased incidents.
Spotswood first discovered the lack of research into mist netting while applying to study the Gray-green Fruit Dove in French Polynesia. When concerned officials denied her permit and questioned the safety of capturing birds with mist nets Spotswood realised that no comprehensive study quantifying the frequency of bird injuries during mist netting existed.
“I was very surprised to find that no study of this kind existed, because mist netting has been around since the 1950s and is an extremely widely used and common technique for monitoring bird populations," said Spotswood. "In the United States at least one million new birds are banded each year at several hundred bird observatories around the country."
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By L. Tim Wallace
Kirby Moulton, internationally recognized extension economist at the University of California, passed away on May 20, 2011.
Born in Berkeley, Kirby graduated from Yale University in 1950, only to return to UC Berkeley to receive his MBA in 1952. He spent the next two years serving in the United States Navy, stationed mostly in Japan. He again returned to UC Berkeley and received his Ph.D. in 1970.
Kirby spent the next ten years in various executive marketing and sales positions in the logging and timber industry along California’s north coast. He eventually settled in at University of California, Berkeley as an economist in Cooperative Extension — focusing on agricultural trade, trade policy, viticulture, market liberalization in Eastern Europe, and global competition in horticultural products — until his retirement in 1996.
Kirby’s work was highly influential both nationally and internationally. He worked with country representatives to create standards, forums, and policies to benefit growers globally. He traveled frequently to Washington D.C. to advise the USDA trade representative, and he was the first American to be elected President of the Commission on Economics and Legislation of the International Office of Wines and Vines (OIV).
Continue reading "Wine Industry Pioneer Kirby Moulton, 83, Dies" »