College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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September 19, 2013

Got Calcium? Mineral is Key to Restoring Acid-Rain Damaged Forests

By Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley Public Affairs

Calcium can do much more than strengthen bones. The mineral is a critical nutrient for healthy tree growth, and new research shows that adding it to the soil helps reverse the decades-long decline of forests ailing from the effects of acid rain.

Helicopter distributes calcium pellets throughout research watershed at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. (Photo courtesy Hubbard Brook Research Foundation)

The paper, published today (Thursday, Sept. 19), in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (EST) Letters, and led by John Battles, professor of forest ecology at the University of California, Berkeley, also presents strong evidence that acid rain impairs forest health.

The paper reports on 15 years of data from an ongoing field experiment in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire led by study co-author Charles Driscoll Jr., professor of environmental systems engineering at Syracuse University.

“It is generally accepted that acid rain harms trees, but the value of our study is that it proves the causal link between the chronic loss of soil calcium caused by decades of acid rain and its impact on tree growth,” said Battles. “The temporal and spatial scope of the study – 15 years and entire watersheds – is unique and makes the results convincing.”

Continue reading "Got Calcium? Mineral is Key to Restoring Acid-Rain Damaged Forests" »

September 18, 2013

Bedbugs Won't Take the Bait

UC scientists combat resurgence of bedbug in behavioral studies and monitor trials

By Pam Kan-Rice, UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Bedbugs are showing up more frequently in California and around the world, and new UC research shows that current methods for detecting the blood-sucking pests aren't very reliable.

Detecting bedbugs is key to controlling them so a UC study tested three commercial monitors. At best, the monitors containing attractants captured 10 percent of the bedbugs, wrote scientists from UC Cooperative Extension, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside in the July–September 2013 issue of California Agriculture, UC's peer-reviewed journal of agricultural, natural and human resources.

Adult and juvenile live bedbugs. PHOTO: Dong-Hwan Choe, UC Riverside

As bedbugs become more prevalent, the researchers call for improving monitors as well as developing new methods to lure the insects more effectively.

"If we could put out bait and the bedbugs find it and die, wouldn't that be great?" said Vernard Lewis, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley and lead author of the article. Lewis is testing attractants for bedbugs and observing their behavior.

Continue reading "Bedbugs Won't Take the Bait" »

September 6, 2013

Grant for Newborn Genetic Screening

Computational Biologist Steven Brenner will be part of an ambitious effort to assess whether large-scale gene sequencing aimed at detecting disorders and conditions can and should become a routine part of newborn testing.

Brenner, a professor in the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley, is part of a UC San Francisco team granted $6 million by the National Institutes of Health to identify the accuracy and feasibility of providing genetic sequencing as part of, or instead of, the current newborn screening that relies on biochemical changes in the blood. It also will assess what additional information would be useful to have at birth and the ethics and public interest in having such tests performed.

"Genome sequencing has the potential to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of newborn screening," Brenner said, allowing early intervention for infants and fundamental changes in the tehcnology for screening newborns.

Read the full story on the Plant & Microbial Biology website.

September 3, 2013

What Can We Learn From the Rim Fire?

The Rim Fire raging near Yosemite National Park since August 17 has already destroyed nearly 200,000 acres and has become the 6th worst fire in California history. Firefighters have been using drones and backfire operations to control the inferno.

Scott Stephens, professor of fire science at the College of Natural Resources and other guests joined KQED's Forum to take a look at modern firefighting and prevention strategies, and discuss what can be done to avoid similar disasters.

Listen to the KQED Forum program »


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Got Calcium? Mineral is Key to Restoring Acid-Rain Damaged Forests
Bedbugs Won't Take the Bait
Grant for Newborn Genetic Screening
What Can We Learn From the Rim Fire?


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