Acquah receives first place at Forest Products Society International Convention

GIFTY ACQUAH, a graduate student in the School of Forestry and Wildlife at Auburn University, was recently awarded first place in the poster competition at the Forest Products Society’s 68th International Convention held Aug. 10-13 in Quebec City, Canada. The convention was organized around the theme “Rediscovering wood for Construction, the Economy and Environment and Energy.” Acquah’s poster was one of more than forty student posters showcased at the event.

Acquah’s research focused on rapidly characterizing the properties of forest biomass, with the goal of making this resource a viable feedstock for the emerging bioeconomy. Using analytical tools, she analyzed the chemical composition and thermal reactivity properties of biomass. Models from this study should be able to rapidly predict the properties of similar biomass types.

Lyme Disease Awareness Event Sept 11

“Get Ticked Off About Lyme Disease” and join us on September 11th from 10-2pm on the Ginn Concourse (rain location: Haley Center Lobby). Learn about ticks, the illnesses they carry, why you should care, and what you can do to prevent getting Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Enjoy FREE refreshments, giveaways, and fun! Anyone who spends time outdoors or has pets and children that do should attend.

 

Also join us for a lecture by the “tick doctor”, Dr. Kerry Clark, from the University of North Florida at 3:30 pm in room 1101 of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building. He will be talking about tick and Lyme disease myths and truths and his past and present research. He will also answer questions after the lecture and take part in a discussion over dinner at 5:00 pm in room 1101 of the SFWS. Contact SFWS graduate student Emily Merritt (ezm0017@auburn.edu) or Michelle Cole (coleden@auburn.edu) for RSVP and event information

 

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the US and it is found worldwide. People and pets have been infected with it in all US states, and every year hundreds of thousands of new cases emerge. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is carried and transmitted by black-legged ticks in the Eastern part of the US. It is transmitted when an infected tick bites a human or pet and remains attached for around 36 hours. Ticks are picked up by humans and pets who spend time in outdoor, tick-infested areas. Ticks’ small size makes them difficult to detect, and their ability to hold on tight makes them very effective at transmitting the disease. Lyme disease symptoms vary from person to person and often imitate the symptoms of other illnesses, causing it to be misdiagnosed or left unrecognized. Untreated, this disease can cause neurologic, cardiac, arthritic, and psychiatric problems in infected individuals. Ticks are very common in the south, and Lyme disease is a threat to all who spend time outdoors. We hope this event will help spread the word about ticks and Lyme disease and educate people on how to recognize the signs of infection and ways to prevent acquiring the debilitating disease.

Researchers receive grant to study black bears in Alabama

 

Three faculty members working in Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences have received a $529,000 grant from the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to study black bear populations in Alabama. The four-year project, led by associate professors Todd Steury, Wayde Morse, and Mark Smith, will study the known black bear population in the Mobile River Basin area as well as a recently established, second population in northeast Alabama. The project has three main components: to collect DNA and behavior information from as much of the Alabama bear populations as possible; to assess public perceptions about bears and bear management; and to generate outreach materials to educate the public about living with bears.

 

The project, an extension of a pilot project completed in 2014, will use hair snares to sample for black bears in the study sites during the fall months, when bears are typically more active in their search for food before hibernation. In addition, the team will be working with the Birmingham Zoo to trap up to 20 bears and fit them with radio collars. This will allow the team not only to gather data about the health of individual bears, but to learn more about bear movements and their relative use of different habitat types. During this time, the project will survey the public in both regions about their attitudes towards bears and bear management. The information gain from such surveys is vital to generating wildlife management plans that will work for the surrounding communities. The results of this survey will be extended to outreach materials to help educate the public about living alongside bears.

 

“Biodiversity loss is one of the greatest current threats to the environment,” says Steury, “and also has varied consequences for human well-being.” Large carnivores like black bears are particularly important because of the many biological, political, social, and economic roles they can play. For instance, because they are larger they can often be more sensitive to habitat loss and can serve as a warning sign for habitat threats to other species. Their loss can often mean cascading effects through the ecosystem, and protecting them can also protect smaller species. They are also quick to generate public interest.

 

“Knowing exactly how many individual black bears exist in the core of population is critical to understanding how great the risk of elimination is in that population and how to manage that risk,” Steury says. “In addition, knowing how many individual black bears exist in northeast Alabama, and whether they are settled in the area or transient will help to determine if bears have repatriated that portion of the state. This will be crucial for planning how to manage bears in northeast Alabama.”

Lockaby named interim dean of Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

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AUBURN – Graeme Lockaby, associate dean of research in Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, has been named interim dean of the School, announced today by Provost Timothy Boosinger.

 

“Dr. Lockaby will provide excellent leadership for the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences,” Boosinger said. “He has been at Auburn for 28 years and is a nationally respected authority for his work in forest sustainability.”

 

A national search will begin in July for a permanent dean. Lockaby succeeds Jim Shepard, who is returning to the faculty fulltime as a professor.

 

“We have  outstanding faculty, staff, and  students and I look forward to working with them to enhance their research, education, and outreach experiences,” Lockaby said. “Collaboration with alumni, federal and state colleagues, industry, forestry, wildlife, and natural resource associations, and other stakeholder groups is also very important to the success of our School and completion of our three missions.

 

Lockaby, who has worked at Auburn University since 1986, is director of the school’s Center for Forest Sustainability and serves as the Clinton McClure Professor of Forestry. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forestry at Clemson University and his doctorate in agronomy at Mississippi State University. His research focuses on wetland biogeochemistry.

 

Auburn Climate Change Research featured by US Global Change Research Program

 

A newly published paper by Dr. Hanqin Tian, director of International Center for Climate and Global Change Research at Auburn University, has been featured on the website of the North American Carbon Program, a core element of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The paper represents the first estimation of the overall global warming potential of all three major greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) in North American terrestrial ecosystems. The Auburn University researchers, Dr. Hanqin Tian, Dr. Chaoqun Lu, Dr. Susan Pan, and Dr. Wei Ren, teamed up with scientists from Harvard University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Northern Arizona University to implement this pioneer work.

 

The team found that the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide offset about 73% of the land carbon dioxide sink in the North American continent, and the offset rates varied widely among countries (57% in the US, 83% in Canada, and 329% in Mexico). The research further indicates that terrestrial ecosystems in North American might act as a significant contributor to global warming in extreme drought. The highest positive GWP was generally located in wetland areas (due to high methane emissions) and tropical forests of eastern Mexico (due to high carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions). Positive GWPs were found in Alaska, Nevada, Florida, Louisiana, and most states in Mexico, indicating these zones were potential contributors to global warming.

 

Visit the North American Carbon Program website for a detailed synopsis, including a summary of the new science and significance of the research: http://www.nacarbon.org/nacp/documents/WWRMay2014Tian.pdf .

MeadWestvaco pledges $5000 annual scholarship to SFWS

 

MeadWestvaco has established an annual scholarship in Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences for one student majoring in forestry or forest engineering. The MeadWestvaco Scholarship will award worth $5,000 per year to a junior or senior each year with a minimum GPA of 3.0, with preference given to students from the following counties in Alabama: Russell, Lee, Chambers, Macon, Bullock, Barbour, Pike, Montgomery, Coffee, Dale, Henry, Houston, and Geneva.

“This partnership with MeadWestvaco is invaluable and will certainly help us attract and retain outstanding students majoring in forest engineering or forestry,” said Heather Crozier, Director of Development at the SFWS.

The scholarship is the first partnership between the School and Meadwestvaco.

Doctoral student receives Alabama Forests Forever Foundation Grant

 

Emily Stutzman Jones, a doctoral student working with Dr. Becky Barlow, received a grant for $8,043 to help fund her research project on Agroforestry in Alabama. The project aims to promote silvopasture – integrating the production of timber, forage, and livestock on a single site – as a way to improve profit potential for landowners and while providing several environmental benefits.

 

The project has both information gathering and educational components and is designed to work with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to benefit Alabama landowners. The first phase of the project involves surveying landowners as well as professionals who advise them – extension agents and consultants, for example.  The surveys will aim to gain insight about what works for successful silvopasture sites and what barriers to implementation exist among landowners and natural resource professionals.  

 

The results from these surveys will be used to develop outreach information and publications that will be disseminated to help landowners make informed decisions about silvopasture. In addition, Jones will hold a workshop for natural resource professionals to enhance their capacity to advise landowners about agroforestry and its benefits to landowners and the environment.

AU climate research team contributes to new National Climate Assessment

 

The AU climate research team in the International Center for Climate and Global Change Research and School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences contributed a research paper to the Third US National Climate Assessment (NCA), which was just released by the Obama administration in this month. The team, consisting of Alumni and Solon Dixon professor Dr. Hanqin Tian and researchers Dr. Susan (Shufen) Pan, Dr. Chaoqun Lu, and Dr. Bo Tao, has been recognized individually by the White House’s Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy for their contribution to the NCA. The NCA is a United States government interagency ongoing effort on climate change science conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Dr. Tian and Dr. Pan also contributed to the First National Climate Assessment, which was published in 2000.

 

The Auburn team focused on biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions, two naturally occurring greenhouse gases that contribute to climate warming. The team found that these ecosystem greenhouse gas emissions have risen significantly in the past thirty years and currently are high enough to offset half to one and a half times the carbon sequestration in North America. Though the gases are naturally occurring, human actions can alter the emission rates through things like overuse of nitrogen based fertilizers. Furthermore, the gases are released at higher rates from soil as warmer temperatures occur. The paper concludes that biogenic emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from the North American terrestrial ecosystems are likely to continue raising the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases in the future, which essentially warms the climate and changes precipitation patterns.

 

According to governmental websites, this NCA confirms that climate change is affecting Americans in every region of the United States and key sectors of the national economy. The report, a component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, is described as the most comprehensive and authoritative scientific report ever generated about both climate changes that are happening now in the United States and further changes that we can expect to see throughout this century. One of its key aims is to help translate scientific insights into practical, usable knowledge that can help decision-makers and citizens anticipate and prepare for specific climate-change impacts.
The full report can be viewed at: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov .

Forest Health Dynamics Laboratory Designated NSF Center

 

The Forest Health Dynamics Laboratory at Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has been designated an official research center of the National Science Foundation, as part of the Center for Advanced Forestry Systems (CAFS). This designation, the result of a rigorous two and a half year selection process, comes with a $300,000 grant and five year membership, which can be extended twice in additional five-year increments.

 

The Forest Health Dynamics Laboratory, led by faculty members Scott Enebak and Lori Eckhardt, joins existing centers to become the tenth site for the Center for Advanced Forestry Studies. According to Enebak, the Auburn site is the only site that addresses forest health in the region. The designation brings other advantages, such as increased opportunities for collaboration across research sites, and the chance to propose projects to industry leaders for additional funding.

 

The nature of CAFS, with its close ties to industry leaders to help drive applied research to solve pressing problems, is a natural fit for the Auburn site, which already works closely with industry through the Southern Forest Nursery Management Cooperative and the Forest Health Cooperative.

Forestry Cooperatives Receive $218,000 Grant

 

The Southern Forest Nursery Management Cooperative and Forest Health Cooperative, research cooperatives in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, have received a $218,000 grant from the US Forest Service to improve screening for Fusarium circinatum, a fungus that is threatening conifer forest ecosystems globally. The grant will fund development of a new testing protocol with PCR (polymerase chain reaction), using species-specific genetic markers for the fungus that causes Pitch Canker. The current screening method takes weeks and is unreliable, so the fungus is still being spread globally in infected seed and seedlings. Once in place and approved by the International Seed Testing Association, the new method could make Auburn the central source for testing pine seedlings for pitch canker. The project is in cooperation with the University of Florida at Gainesville, where the genome of the pitch canker was initially sequenced.

 

The grant has funded a postdoctoral fellow, Ryan Nadel, who will be developing the new testing protocol, making it as accurate as possible, and perfecting a system that can be used commercially. One of the big questions he has to settle is the testing threshold, or exactly how much seed or plant material is needed for an accurate test. Scott Enebak, director of the Southern Forest Nursery Management Cooperative, says that they hope to have a testing system ready and changes in place to the International Seed Testing Association’s rules by the end of three years.

 

This project highlights the unique benefits of the two research cooperatives here at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. Building on a collaborative relationship with the University of Florida, this grant will allow the cooperatives to extend the research and then apply it directly in a commercial setting to benefit their members in industry.

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