Posts Tagged environment

Colony Collapse Disorder in Environmental Preservation and Improvement

This semester Will Russack, A14, enrolled in the “Environmental Preservation and Improvement” course taught by Associate Professor George Ellmore. The course’s goal is to “energize students’ desire to work for positive and measurable environmental change” by highlighting solutions to current environmental problems.

Little did Russack know, the two-and-a-half hour environmental studies seminar would inspire him to write a series of posts on his personal blog on the topics discussed in class. He writes: “So far I’m really enjoying the class because every week I come away with a plethora of knowledge about a new topic and the confidence to talk about it.”

One of those topics was “colony collapse disorder,” the phenomenon of the sudden disappearance of honey bees in the United States:

“We investigated the potential for multiple factors to be working together to create these massive die-offs, as the research has been unable to find a clear culprit. The first factor discussed is the usage of systemic pesticides. Systemic pesticides spread throughout all the tissues of a plant, including the nectar and pollen. This means that adult forager bees are receiving direct exposure to the pesticides, and that entire colonies are experiencing indirect exposure when the foragers return. Systemic pesticides are known as neonicotinoids, which have been shown to have significant effects on the central nervous system.

A study by Pettis et al. demonstrated that honey bees exposed to a systemic pesticide known as imidacloprid were significantly more susceptible to infection from the gut pathogen Nosema (figure 1). A second study by Henry et al. showed that exposure to systemic pesticides decreased foraging success in honey bees. The bees were fitted with radar tagging devices to track their position (figure 2). The bees experienced significant“homing failure,”  with up to 31% of bees exposed to pesticides unable to find their way back to hive after foraging. Mortality due to homing failure was even higher when the bees were unfamiliar with their foraging area, as one would expect. Here we can see how just 1 factor, pesticides, is able to have multiple effects on bee health and how these factors could interact to weaken colonies.”

For more on Russack’s presentation, check out his blog post.

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Tufts Institute of the Environment

If you care about the environment and want to do graduate work in the subject area, look no further! Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), which emphasizes the importance of sustainability and environmental research and awareness through interdisciplinary initiatives, has two exciting opportunities for post-grads.

The TIE Graduate Fellows program allows Tufts graduate students of any discipline to add an environmental component to his or her research. From biology to works of literature, Tufts students have found unique ways to delve into the natural world. Take a look:

On a different note, TIE Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) brings faculty, staff and graduates together for a week-long workshop every year to increase environmental literacy.  Here’s more about this year’s program and what it accomplished:

Be sure to like TIE on Facebook and to check out some cool photos!

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A Changing Climate

Kelly Sims Gallagher, associate professor of energy and environmental policy at The Fletcher School, was a recent guest blogger for Triple Crisis, a blog that seeks to start an open and global dialogue around financial, developmental and environmental crises.

Reflecting on the Cancún Climate Summit, Gallagher shares her thoughts on the process of the recent Cancun Agreements.

The Cancún process was extremely diffuse and disorderly.  Often there were literally dozens of parallel contact groups, informal negotiations, and plenary sessions being held in tandem.  Because there were so many concurrent streams of negotiations and no obvious centralized text and process, most negotiators were confused about what was going on, much less be able to productively link and trade off across issues.

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Oh Man, I’m Thirsty

Students in the ExCollege class “Environmental Action: Shifting From Saying to Doing,” a course organized by the Office of Suatainability, put together short videos highlighting the pros of tap water versus the cons of bottled water. The idea is to reduce the use of disposable water bottles on campus by promoting tap water’s fresh, cool accessibility.

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