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ESA 2009: Geoengineering, the last word

Geoengineering — the deliberate manipulation of climate to counteract global warming — might not be taking off just yet, but the push to fund more research into it is increasing. Read the full story here on Nature News. And that wraps up our coverage of the 2009 Ecological Society of America meeting.  Read more

ESA 2009: Sweater by grandma; gut flora by mom

ESA 2009: Sweater by grandma; gut flora by mom

A session this morning took on one intimate intersection between ecology and medicine. As Brendan Bohannan put it, “Some of the most exciting and interesting communities to study have been right under our noses all this time. In fact, they have been in our noses, and our guts, and the rest of our bodies.” The microbes of the human biology form diverse communities, and each is a miniature ecosystem, presumably following all the same basic rules as the large ecosystems outside our windows. These communities do much more than merely hitch a ride. They help train human immune systems, help  … Read more

ESA 2009: Where you at, bee?

ESA 2009: Where you at, bee?

How many bee species do you think live in New York City? Would you believe 227? You would if you heard Kevin Matteson of Fordham University give his talk on urban pollination in the Big Apple. Most of those bees, he admits, are rare, or live in parks. But a surprisingly tough cohort of bees, wasps and flies do make their living buzzing around the flowers planted in postage-stamp gardens in Brooklyn or window boxes on cafes in Manhattan. Matteson found, though, that 40% of the flowers they are visiting are the kind you buy at a big hardware store  … Read more

ESA 2009: The ecological lessons of the Cerro Grande fire

ESA 2009: The ecological lessons of the Cerro Grande fire

On Friday, before the meeting properly started, I went along on a field trip to Los Alamos, New Mexico. If the name rings a bell, it is probably because the town was once a secret government enclave, r&d hub of the Manhattan project, and so the intellectual home of the atomic bomb.  Read more

ESA 2009: The convention ecosystem

ESA 2009: The convention ecosystem

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ephotion/ / CC BY 2.0 Looking about me with ecologist’s eyes, I begin to see the convention center and the surrounding infrastructure as a thriving ecosystem. In the morning, ecologists disperse to the convention center site in pulses via shuttle busses and more gradually by walking. This movement could be viewed as diurnal migration, a common feature of many animals. Although one could follow a food chain in the traditional sense, it would be fairly dull. In essence, the Starbucks at the Hyatt concentrates various energy-rich products of photosynthesis, and the ecologists graze thereupon, until there are no more strawberry-banana  … Read more

ESA 2009: Contributing to the book of life

ESA 2009: Contributing to the book of life

The exhibit hall here at the ecological meeting seems oddly empty — or maybe that’s just because I hit it at a down time when free beer wasn’t being offered. I did spend some time flipping through the fancy new materials at the unstaffed booth of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), the ambitious effort to catalogue the planet’s species onto a one-page-per-species website.  Read more