Departmental News

Atlas of Douglas-fir genes provide new opportunities for breeding, forest health

Researchers at Oregon State University, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, and the US Forest Service just announced a draft atlas of genes used by Douglas-fir, a conifer tree of high economic importance world-wide. This atlas of genes – called a “transcriptome” – includes 25,000 gene sequences, and it identifies nearly 280,000 variants within these genes. The lead author of the paper, FES professor Glenn Howe, says “our main goal was to develop an atlas of genes that Douglas-fir uses in day-to-day growth, as well as under stress conditions."

State of the World 2013

Worldwatch Institute’s newest project, State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?, features an essay by FES professor Michael P. Nelson. Co-written with Kathleen Dean Moore, the essay is titled "Moving Toward a Global Moral Consensus on Environmental Action".

GMOs: Why so controversial?

“There’s no evidence that it’s harmful,” said Steven Strauss, a biotechnology professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. His topic was genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods. Speaking at the Columbia Forum Thursday, Strauss described a research world that has significant impact on the Americas, but virtually none in Europe or Africa.

Carbon Controversy: Should The Northwest Grow Markets For Forest Biofuels?

“Biomass burning from wood pellets releases a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a carbon debt that can last for decades,” says Beverly Law, a professor of global change biology in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. Law is the coauthor of a study, published in Nature Climate Change, that found that large-scale bio-energy harvest in Northwest forests could increase regional carbon emissions over a 20 year time frame.

FES Graduate Student presents at the "Scholars' Insight" event

Danielle Marias, a FES graduate student, presented her research in a recent event at OSU titled "Scholars' Insight".  OSU Graduate students had the opportunity to present a three minute "impact" of their scholarly works, to a non-specialist audience at OSU and the Corvallis community.

What Do Birds Do for Us?

FES associate professor of landscape ecology Matt Betts and his research are featured in this recent article in Audubon Magazine.  Researchers use microphones to mechanically monitor bird songs in the western Cascade Mountains during (and before) the breeding season. “The minute the bird arrives from its wintering grounds, you know when it showed up,” says Matt Betts. “Then, if you start comparing those data across years, you can get some idea of how arrival times shifted. As the climate starts warming, are we seeing birds arriving earlier?"

Children’s book set in HJ Andrews

Retired OSU professor Judy Li has written her first book - also the first children's book from OSU Press - called "Ellie's Log, Exploring the Forest where the Great Tree Fell."  The book tells the story of two kids exploring HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades.

Wolves Teach Scientists Their Limitations

The lone wolf’s genes quickly became a new source of inbreeding. “His positive effect was powerful but very short-lived,” says Michael P. Nelson, an environmental philosopher at Oregon State University and longtime collaborator with the Isle Royale study. A shorter-term view would have missed that genetic wave and its decline, he adds. “When you watch something for a very long time, sometimes the simplest observation can have a great deal of meaning,” Nelson says, “and it’s only because of that context.”

Bills to regulate GMOs 'unwise,' professor tells panel

In a legislative hearing, a university biotech specialist characterized bills to regulate biotech crops at the state and county levels as "unwise" and "technologically regressive." Steve Strauss, professor of forest biotech at Oregon State University and director of the university's Outreach in Biotechnology program, said the bills "are based on poor science ... fundamentally undemocratic ... and appear to contradict federal regulations."

Thinking About Animals Thinking

March 8th, on the Oregon State University Campus, an expert panel of scientists, naturalists, and ethicists met to discuss the topics of behavior, emotions, morals, and relationships in animals.  Two FES professors participated: Bill Ripple gave a talk titled Predators and Prey: The Ecology of Fear, and moderator Michael Nelson talked about Science and Ethics.