OSU Extension Blogs

Waldport High students help NOAA track ocean currents

Breaking Waves - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 1:04pm

R/V Oceanus crew launches Waldport High’s drifter (photo by Jeff Crews)

WALDPORT – Students at Waldport High School are excited about today’s successful launch of their unmanned sailboat, Phyxius, near the Equator by OSU’s R/V Oceanus, as part of a long-term national  project to better understand ocean currents and transport patterns.

The project, organized by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, is part of  NOAA’s Educational Passages program, which enlists science, technology, engineering and math classes to build the miniature vessels and set them loose in ocean and coastal waters – and follow them via a NOAA tracking site to see where they go. More than 40 of the drifters have been launched since the program began in 2008.

The unmanned mini-sailboats are self-steering and equipped with GPS tracking devices to study ocean and wind patterns and much more. The five-foot vessels sail directly downwind month after month. As these boats travel the oceans, students can track them via http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/ and learn and improve their skills in map reading, geography, earth science, oceanography and more.

Waldport’s is just the third drifter to be launched in the Pacific. Most of the others have been launched into the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. Drifters have landed in Europe, the Caribbean, Cuba, Bahamas, Panama, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia as well as many other places. Some have left Portugal and closely duplicated Columbus’s route to the new world, and another spent time on display in an Irish pub.

The post Waldport High students help NOAA track ocean currents appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Waldport High students help NOAA track ocean currents

Sea Grant - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 1:04pm

R/V Oceanus crew launches Waldport High’s drifter (photo by Jeff Crews)

WALDPORT – Students at Waldport High School are excited about today’s successful launch of their unmanned sailboat, Phyxius, near the Equator by OSU’s R/V Oceanus, as part of a long-term national  project to better understand ocean currents and transport patterns.

The project, organized by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, is part of  NOAA’s Educational Passages program, which enlists science, technology, engineering and math classes to build the miniature vessels and set them loose in ocean and coastal waters – and follow them via a NOAA tracking site to see where they go. More than 40 of the drifters have been launched since the program began in 2008.

The unmanned mini-sailboats are self-steering and equipped with GPS tracking devices to study ocean and wind patterns and much more. The five-foot vessels sail directly downwind month after month. As these boats travel the oceans, students can track them via http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/ and learn and improve their skills in map reading, geography, earth science, oceanography and more.

Waldport’s is just the third drifter to be launched in the Pacific. Most of the others have been launched into the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. Drifters have landed in Europe, the Caribbean, Cuba, Bahamas, Panama, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia as well as many other places. Some have left Portugal and closely duplicated Columbus’s route to the new world, and another spent time on display in an Irish pub.

The post Waldport High students help NOAA track ocean currents appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Estuary flooding may be more extreme than previously thought

Breaking Waves - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:44am

OSU engineer is studying estuary flooding in the Coos Bay estuary (pictured here) and the Tillamook Bay estuary.

New research suggests that intense storms could increase the impact of flooding in coastal estuaries. As more water is forced into the estuary, site-specific geographic features will cause more inundation in some parts of the estuary than others, contrary to the uniform rise that was previously expected.

Estuaries are mixing pots between rivers and the ocean – and also tend to be hotspots for human development. Tumultuous offshore waves that break during winter storms force water up into the estuary, causing it to inundate surrounding areas.

David Hill, a coastal engineer at Oregon State University, is studying how to more effectively measure the effects of flooding in estuaries along the Oregon coast.

“In Oregon, estuaries really represent a concentration of a great number of things,” Hill explained. “A concentration of infrastructure and a concentration of commerce. If you look where the population is, it’s all near estuaries.”

Historically, coastal managers have simply drawn a uniform circle around an estuary on a map to estimate flooding, and raised or lowered the line depending on predicted changes in water level. This method, although easy, neglects the complicated physics that take place in such environments.

Hill used historical storm data and future climate predictions to simulate the effect of storms on the Tillamook Bay estuary. His detailed models discovered that not all parts of an estuary are created equal.

“One thing that we found is that inside a large body of water like Tillamook Bay, there can be noticeable differences from one location to another. So the water levels in the whole bay are not the same. The northern part of the bay is more susceptible to higher water levels than the southern part.”

This new information is causing state flood maps to be updated and flood zones reevaluated. Hill says he is looking forward to working directly with coastal communities to find out what information is most useful in their planning.

Waves breaking offshore force water up into the estuary and cause flooding.

“A big part of this project is wanting to actually connect with organizations within our study sites. They’re the ones that have the best idea of what kind of information is valuable to them and that they need to do short term and long term planning.”

The project is only six months into a two-year cycle funding and already two papers are close to being published; one paper is in press with the Journal of Coastal Research, and the second is in re-review with another journal.

While Hill is focused on the impact to coastal infrastructure, OSU ecologist Sally Hacker is researching what effect inundation will have on eelgrass habitat in the estuaries.

“Eelgrass is a critical habitat for commercially important fish and crabs,” Hacker explained. “We will be using models to project the extent of eelgrass under future sea level elevations.”

Hacker will incorporate Hill’s data into her models to better predict ecosystem changes along the coast.

Scientists say it is likely that storm events will become more frequent and more powerful in the future. Understanding the economic and ecological impacts of flooding will help coastal communities adapt in an ever-changing climate.

Learn more:

 

The post Estuary flooding may be more extreme than previously thought appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Estuary flooding may be more extreme than previously thought

Sea Grant - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:44am

OSU engineer is studying estuary flooding in the Coos Bay estuary (pictured here) and the Tillamook Bay estuary.

New research suggests that intense storms could increase the impact of flooding in coastal estuaries. As more water is forced into the estuary, site-specific geographic features will cause more inundation in some parts of the estuary than others, contrary to the uniform rise that was previously expected.

Estuaries are mixing pots between rivers and the ocean – and also tend to be hotspots for human development. Tumultuous offshore waves that break during winter storms force water up into the estuary, causing it to inundate surrounding areas.

David Hill, a coastal engineer at Oregon State University, is studying how to more effectively measure the effects of flooding in estuaries along the Oregon coast.

“In Oregon, estuaries really represent a concentration of a great number of things,” Hill explained. “A concentration of infrastructure and a concentration of commerce. If you look where the population is, it’s all near estuaries.”

Historically, coastal managers have simply drawn a uniform circle around an estuary on a map to estimate flooding, and raised or lowered the line depending on predicted changes in water level. This method, although easy, neglects the complicated physics that take place in such environments.

Hill used historical storm data and future climate predictions to simulate the effect of storms on the Tillamook Bay estuary. His detailed models discovered that not all parts of an estuary are created equal.

“One thing that we found is that inside a large body of water like Tillamook Bay, there can be noticeable differences from one location to another. So the water levels in the whole bay are not the same. The northern part of the bay is more susceptible to higher water levels than the southern part.”

This new information is causing state flood maps to be updated and flood zones reevaluated. Hill says he is looking forward to working directly with coastal communities to find out what information is most useful in their planning.

Waves breaking offshore force water up into the estuary and cause flooding.

“A big part of this project is wanting to actually connect with organizations within our study sites. They’re the ones that have the best idea of what kind of information is valuable to them and that they need to do short term and long term planning.”

The project is only six months into a two-year cycle funding and already two papers are close to being published; one paper is in press with the Journal of Coastal Research, and the second is in re-review with another journal.

While Hill is focused on the impact to coastal infrastructure, OSU ecologist Sally Hacker is researching what effect inundation will have on eelgrass habitat in the estuaries.

“Eelgrass is a critical habitat for commercially important fish and crabs,” Hacker explained. “We will be using models to project the extent of eelgrass under future sea level elevations.”

Hacker will incorporate Hill’s data into her models to better predict ecosystem changes along the coast.

Scientists say it is likely that storm events will become more frequent and more powerful in the future. Understanding the economic and ecological impacts of flooding will help coastal communities adapt in an ever-changing climate.

Learn more:

 

The post Estuary flooding may be more extreme than previously thought appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association Conference & Trade Show

Small Farms Events - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 6:43am
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 8:00 AM - Thursday, November 13, 2014 4:00 PM

Annual trade show and program for PNVA members and nonmembers.

For complete information and how to register please visit the PNVA website.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Lane County Livestock Association Breakfast Educational Program

Small Farms Events - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 6:43am
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 6:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Doug Freeman will cover information on several pests we all face in ranching and growing crops in western Oregon.  He will touch on standard, legal approaches to controlling the pests and what ranchers around the world are doing.

For more information contact Shelby Filley (541) 672-4461  shelby.filley@oregonstate.edu

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

November 11

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 4:20pm

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States.

It is the day celebrated as a federal holiday by libraries, post offices, school districts; not the university. It originated as Armistice Day in celebration of the end of World War I, the war to end all wars, the Great War.

It wasn’t made a national holiday (celebrated by those institutions above) until 1938. The name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 after the Korean War to remember all veterans, not just those from WWI.

Yet these women and men often give the ultimate sacrifice and are often not recognized for their service.  Metrics do not capture the value, merit, or worth of their service, yet it is usually metrics that is the focus of any evaluation done.

(This cartoon is the segue to the next US holiday.)

my .

molly.

The post November 11 appeared first on Evaluation is an Everyday Activity.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Join us for Sea Grant Scholars Day, Nov. 13

Breaking Waves - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 1:37pm

Join us for the 2014 Oregon Sea Grant Scholars Day Symposium on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 1:30 pm to 5 pm in the Joyce Powell Leadership Center Journey Room in the OSU Memorial Union!

Several of our student fellows and other scholars will be making presentations or presenting posters about their Sea Grant-related work. This gives students the opportunity to gain valuable experience presenting their research and experiences to a public audience and receive feedback on their work and presentation skills.

See the draft agenda here.

The post Join us for Sea Grant Scholars Day, Nov. 13 appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Join us for Sea Grant Scholars Day, Nov. 13

Sea Grant - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 1:37pm

Join us for the 2014 Oregon Sea Grant Scholars Day Symposium on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 1:30 pm to 5 pm in the Joyce Powell Leadership Center Journey Room in the OSU Memorial Union!

Several of our student fellows and other scholars will be making presentations or presenting posters about their Sea Grant-related work. This gives students the opportunity to gain valuable experience presenting their research and experiences to a public audience and receive feedback on their work and presentation skills.

See the draft agenda here.

The post Join us for Sea Grant Scholars Day, Nov. 13 appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Linn-Benton Livestock & Forages Breakfast Educational Program

Small Farms Events - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 6:43am
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 6:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Instructor Matt Kennedy and his students will present information on the OSU Steer-A--Year (SAY) program.  Our presenters will explain how steer are donated, delivered, and processed.  They will also talk about how they feed, care for, and assess the steers for finish.  The program also extends into slaughter, fabrication, and product development. 

For more information contact:

Shelby Filley (541)672-4461   shelby.filley@oregonstate.edu

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Bivalves on drugs: What goes in the water winds up in shellfish

Breaking Waves - Fri, 11/07/2014 - 5:05pm

Bivalves such as oysters assimilate environmental toxins into their body when filtering water.

What happens to an oyster on antidepressants? What about on caffeine? Or, what if you combine these contradictory drugs and then consume the oyster?

As odd as it sounds, this scenario is playing out along the Oregon coast where oysters and other bivalves—a staple food source for both humans and animals— are assimilating low levels of environmental contaminants into their body.  Portland State University researcher Elise Granek and colleagues are studying which chemicals are present, where, and what the effects may be up the food chain.

“The work in our lab is looking at how land based contaminants are affecting marine and coastal animals.” Granek said. “In the long term, what are the effects on humans?”

Bivalves—two-shelled animals such as clams, mussels and oysters—are integral to coastlines for food and structure. Not only do they serve as prime dining for many animals, but their colonies also provide shelter for small fish and invertebrates to hide. Bivalves filter water to feed, and thereby ingest a variety of chemicals from the water.

Granek and her team sampled native oysters at two sites along the Oregon coast to get an idea of what chemicals were present in their tissues. The results were stunning: ibuprofen, anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamine and more. While each of these drugs was present in levels not considered harmful to humans, Granek is concerned about what the combined impact might be.

“These organisms don’t just have one compound. They have 2, 3, 4 types in them,” she explained. “So what happens when you have multiple of these compounds in one organism? How does that affect that organism or how does it affect predators that eat them, including us? We just don’t know.”

These contaminants likely seep into the water from outdated septic tanks or sewer overflows during storms and other high-water events.

Back in the lab, the team is conducting 90-day controlled experiments on each drug to get a better idea of the physiological effects on the bivalves. After they create a baseline for individual drugs—as early as spring—the lab will start combining different drugs to assess the effects.

“Most people who use pharmaceuticals or personal care products may not have any knowledge that what goes down the drain could harm aquatic and marine life,” said Joey Peters, a graduate student conducting the lab experiments. “I hope the results of this project elucidate one small piece of a growing problem.”

The next step is going back into the field to monitor which chemicals are present in other bivalves. From there, Granek wants to begin evaluating human impacts of eating these contaminated species. That information, she says, will help inform policy.

“My perspective has changed since I had a kid, and I think about all of the contaminants that she is exposed to in our world. Some things are harder to control and some things are easier to control. Food ought to be something that is easier to convince policy makers and managers to protect.”

Learn more:

The post Bivalves on drugs: What goes in the water winds up in shellfish appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Bivalves on drugs: What goes in the water winds up in shellfish

Sea Grant - Fri, 11/07/2014 - 5:05pm

Bivalves such as oysters assimilate environmental toxins into their body when filtering water.

What happens to an oyster on antidepressants? What about on caffeine? Or, what if you combine these contradictory drugs and then consume the oyster?

As odd as it sounds, this scenario is playing out along the Oregon coast where oysters and other bivalves—a staple food source for both humans and animals— are assimilating low levels of environmental contaminants into their body.  Portland State University researcher Elise Granek and colleagues are studying which chemicals are present, where, and what the effects may be up the food chain.

“The work in our lab is looking at how land based contaminants are affecting marine and coastal animals.” Granek said. “In the long term, what are the effects on humans?”

Bivalves—two-shelled animals such as clams, mussels and oysters—are integral to coastlines for food and structure. Not only do they serve as prime dining for many animals, but their colonies also provide shelter for small fish and invertebrates to hide. Bivalves filter water to feed, and thereby ingest a variety of chemicals from the water.

Granek and her team sampled native oysters at two sites along the Oregon coast to get an idea of what chemicals were present in their tissues. The results were stunning: ibuprofen, anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamine and more. While each of these drugs was present in levels not considered harmful to humans, Granek is concerned about what the combined impact might be.

“These organisms don’t just have one compound. They have 2, 3, 4 types in them,” she explained. “So what happens when you have multiple of these compounds in one organism? How does that affect that organism or how does it affect predators that eat them, including us? We just don’t know.”

These contaminants likely seep into the water from outdated septic tanks or sewer overflows during storms and other high-water events.

Back in the lab, the team is conducting 90-day controlled experiments on each drug to get a better idea of the physiological effects on the bivalves. After they create a baseline for individual drugs—as early as spring—the lab will start combining different drugs to assess the effects.

“Most people who use pharmaceuticals or personal care products may not have any knowledge that what goes down the drain could harm aquatic and marine life,” said Joey Peters, a graduate student conducting the lab experiments. “I hope the results of this project elucidate one small piece of a growing problem.”

The next step is going back into the field to monitor which chemicals are present in other bivalves. From there, Granek wants to begin evaluating human impacts of eating these contaminated species. That information, she says, will help inform policy.

“My perspective has changed since I had a kid, and I think about all of the contaminants that she is exposed to in our world. Some things are harder to control and some things are easier to control. Food ought to be something that is easier to convince policy makers and managers to protect.”

Learn more:

The post Bivalves on drugs: What goes in the water winds up in shellfish appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

It depends

Amy Grotta's Tree Topics - Fri, 11/07/2014 - 1:04pm

Remember those Magic 8 balls where you would ask a question, shake the ball, and get an answer? I wish life were that simple.

Extension agents get a lot of questions. Some say we are notorious for always answering with “well, it depends.” As an Extension agent I’m as guilty as anyone of using “it depends”, and not because I want to dodge your question. Usually there is more than one answer; more information is needed; and ultimately, you are the one who will be able to answer your own question after more a more thorough evaluation. Here is a sampling of inquiries I’ve received by phone, email, or Ask an Expert over the past few weeks, to illustrate this.

 

“Do you have advice for the most effective strategies for killing blackberries? We want to use only as much herbicide as is really needed.”

a wall of blackberries

It depends!

How large an area needs to be treated? Is it a site prep situation, or are the trees already planted? Is there desirable vegetation intermixed with the blackberries, and if so, how much?

I hope I didn’t frustrate the askers by giving them a whole lot of questions in exchange for the single one asked. But each situation is different and the “best” strategy will depend on these and other factors. Knowing how herbicides work is critical to successful integrated pest management, which is really what the question is about.

 

“I have a few acres of pasture and I’m thinking of planting some trees and putting it in forest deferral. Is this a good idea?”

It depends!

Are the soils suitable for growing trees, and if so what kinds? Have you thought about how you will get the site ready for planting? Do you have the ability to control competing vegetation on the site for several years after planting? Are you willing to commit time and money to this effort for the next five years? Will you be able to pay back taxes should the plantation fail and forest deferral be removed?

This person got 5 questions back for the price of one. I’m not in a position to tell her whether it’s a good idea, but I can help her evaluate the answers to some of my questions.

 

“We have some big trees on our property. Should we cut them now to make sure they don’t overgrow the market?”

big logs coming into a mill

It depends!

Despite common assumptions, some mills buy big logs. Have you checked to see whether your trees are really too big? What are your overall income goals for your property? Are you thinking of removing just the biggest trees, or doing a clearcut? Which course of action, including no action, would leave the stand in better or worse condition over the long run?

 

I believe that there are no stupid questions. But don’t be surprised if the answer is “it depends”.

The post It depends appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

RECIPE TO MARKET-Creating a Food Business

Small Farms Events - Thu, 11/06/2014 - 6:43am
Saturday, November 1, 2014 10:00 AM - Saturday, November 15, 2014 5:00 PM

FLYER
The aim of this Southern Oregon four-part series is to help small farmers, local "foodies" and would-be entrepreneurs transform their passion for food into an artisan & value-added food business. The series will provide critical, useful and time saving information needed to launch a successful food business.
Oct. 15 Kick Off at the Tap Rock was a big success.  If you missed it you may still join us for the first class on Nov. 1 fro 10 am to 5 pm at the Josephine County Extension Center.  $40 for Nov. 1 only or register on line below for all 3 classes ($55)

READ THE DETAILS...

REGISTER

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Update–making a difference

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Wed, 11/05/2014 - 11:39am

It has been about  /years since I started this blog (more or less–my anniversary is actually in early December) .

Because I am an evaluator, I have asked several time is this blog making a difference. And those posts, the ones in which I ask “is this blog making a difference”, are the ones which get the most comments.  Now, truly, most comments are often either about marketing some product, inviting me to view another blog, mirroring comments made previously, or comments in a language which I cannot read (even with an online translator). Yet, there must be something about “making a difference” that engages viewers and then engages them to make a comment.

Today, I read a comment that was directed to me specifically (most are not) which said:

“Hi Molly,
Are you still up for some more updates?
I surely hope so, or perhaps someone else could maintain the blog-post. It was pretty cool to read about.”

So I keep blogging, and am learning to be satisfied with little differences and small, sometimes meaningful, comments from readers. This week’s post is about those little differences with small comments from readers.

First some statistics taken from my dashboard: Yesterday (November 4, 2014), there were 38 views (out of 101 views) all related to the posts that have “making a difference” in the title. Today, there are (at 11:00am PT) 17 views (out of 38 so far). The most views I’ve gotten in a day was 157 and that was this summer when you would think most people would be on vacation. Of those 157, 55 views were to the sites that had “making a difference” in the title (about 1/3 of all views).

What do I take away from those analytics? That this blog IS making a difference. Perhaps, not in the way I have traditionally viewed evaluation–changes in the “participant’s” life. Maybe using electronic programs (like a blog) results in small changes, changes that manifest in a return visit, a new idea, a formation of a community (in this case of readers). So I’m learning to look for small changes, not life changes. Maybe a lot of small changes result in life changes. Only you, the reader, can tell me that. So if you have read this far, let me know–do a lot of small changes result in life changes?

Blogging is a good way to express your views and defiantly it makes a difference when you post it with unique and (hopefully) new information. That difference is crafting the blog, thinking of what to write, and telling the relevant story. I continue to do that…that is my difference.

I strive to publish valuable information. I believe that this blog may make a difference to readers. After all, they found this blog, spent some time on this blog page, perhaps left a comment or two.

my

molly.

The post Update–making a difference appeared first on Evaluation is an Everyday Activity.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Small-Scale & Urban Farming Series

Small Farms Events - Tue, 11/04/2014 - 6:44am
Tuesday, November 4, 2014 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            Contact: Brooke Edmunds

October 14, 2014                              Phone: 541-344-5859

 

[Eugene, Oregon] – The OSU Extension Service in Lane County is starting a Small-Scale & Urban Farming Series of classes. The first class “Pasture Management” will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 6-8:30 p.m. at 996 Jefferson Street, Eugene (enter on 10th at the ramp). Cost of each session is $25 per person. This class is for the small acreage landowner who is managing pasture and livestock. You will learn how to improve pasture productivity by managing soil health, fertilizing and liming, and grazing systems.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Disposable Electrochemical Microchip for On-Farm Detection of E.coli from Agricultural Water

Small Farms Events - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 6:46am
Monday, November 3, 2014 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Fall 2014 Faculty Seminar Schedule, Dept. of Food Science & Technology

Presenter: Fei Hei, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Sea star wasting expands, new recommendations emerge

Breaking Waves - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 2:25pm

 

Purple starfish afflicted with sea star wasting near Newport, OR Photo courtesy of Sheanna Steingass, oregonbeachcomber.com

Sea stars continue to waste and die along the US West Coast, and while researchers aren’t yet certain what’s causing the outbreak to spread, they’re beginning to suspect a combination of increased water temperatures that weaken the animals and leave them vulnerable to infection from opportunistic bacteria and parasites.

Dubbed Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS) the condition emerged in patches nearly a year ago, and by June had become serious enough that scientists convened in Newport to discuss what they were seeing, what was known and what remained to be learned.  Since that meeting, the disease has spread both north into Alaska and south to Baja California.

“The expansion up into Alaska is really problematic because the California current comes across the northern part of Vancouver Island and then down, and this has jumped into a whole other current system,” explained Steve Rumrill, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rumrill and his colleague Dr. Tim Miller-Morgan, an aquatic veterinarian with Oregon Sea Grant, have been busy drafting documents that synthesize what is known about the outbreak. They summarized those documents at the recent State of the Coast conference in Florence. The papers underline key issues and research recommendations for continued monitoring, studies about pathology, investigation of ecological impacts, handling of captive animals and outreach programs. Recommendations include creating uniform signage and information displays for the public, and establishing a database for scientists to post observations about the disease in their areas.

The outbreak’s cause remains elusive. While some institutions are documenting what appears to be an infectious trend among stars, pathologists have been unable to find evidence of a specific infectious agent.

“Many of the pathologists are saying that there is no evidence of an infectious agent,” Miller-Morgan said. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t one. But when they are looking at slides, they aren’t seeing any evidence that would traditionally be associated with an infectious process.”

They have found a variety of bacteria and parasites associated with infected stars, however. This supports the leading theory that some initial cause—whether pathogenic or environmental—deteriorates the stars outer layer, exposing them to secondary invaders. Increases in water temperature appear to be a significant factor in the syndrome, but the exact role that plays has yet to be determined.

“We have identified new areas and directions that need more research, and we have added more questions to the pile,” said Miller-Morgan. “The other thing is that there really is an impetus now to get together more regularly.”

On the bright side, field biologists have recently observed relatively large numbers of juvenile sea stars in a wide variety of tidal zones along the west coast.

“It is encouraging that the juvenile sea stars are beginning to emerge,” said Rumrill.  “Juveniles have become a prominent component of the remaining populations at several sites, and the mixed groups of tiny and middle-sized stars may be an indicator of multiple recruitment events.  However, it is not clear what role these new juveniles will pay in the overall recovery of sea star communities.”

The outbreak is gaining national attention since reports of a similar outbreak on the East Coast.  Marine animal health experts from both coasts will meet at an upcoming Fish Health Conference in South Carolina to discuss parallels in the syndrome. Rumrill and Miller-Morgan also plan another West Coast symposium to share what researchers and aquarists are learning about the syndrome and what might be done in response.

For more information, or to assist with a citizen science project, visit the Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring website.

The post Sea star wasting expands, new recommendations emerge appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Sea star wasting expands, new recommendations emerge

Sea Grant - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 2:25pm

 

Purple starfish afflicted with sea star wasting near Newport, OR Photo courtesy of Sheanna Steingass, oregonbeachcomber.com

Sea stars continue to waste and die along the US West Coast, and while researchers aren’t yet certain what’s causing the outbreak to spread, they’re beginning to suspect a combination of increased water temperatures that weaken the animals and leave them vulnerable to infection from opportunistic bacteria and parasites.

Dubbed Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS) the condition emerged in patches nearly a year ago, and by June had become serious enough that scientists convened in Newport to discuss what they were seeing, what was known and what remained to be learned.  Since that meeting, the disease has spread both north into Alaska and south to Baja California.

“The expansion up into Alaska is really problematic because the California current comes across the northern part of Vancouver Island and then down, and this has jumped into a whole other current system,” explained Steve Rumrill, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rumrill and his colleague Dr. Tim Miller-Morgan, an aquatic veterinarian with Oregon Sea Grant, have been busy drafting documents that synthesize what is known about the outbreak. They summarized those documents at the recent State of the Coast conference in Florence. The papers underline key issues and research recommendations for continued monitoring, studies about pathology, investigation of ecological impacts, handling of captive animals and outreach programs. Recommendations include creating uniform signage and information displays for the public, and establishing a database for scientists to post observations about the disease in their areas.

The outbreak’s cause remains elusive. While some institutions are documenting what appears to be an infectious trend among stars, pathologists have been unable to find evidence of a specific infectious agent.

“Many of the pathologists are saying that there is no evidence of an infectious agent,” Miller-Morgan said. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t one. But when they are looking at slides, they aren’t seeing any evidence that would traditionally be associated with an infectious process.”

They have found a variety of bacteria and parasites associated with infected stars, however. This supports the leading theory that some initial cause—whether pathogenic or environmental—deteriorates the stars outer layer, exposing them to secondary invaders. Increases in water temperature appear to be a significant factor in the syndrome, but the exact role that plays has yet to be determined.

“We have identified new areas and directions that need more research, and we have added more questions to the pile,” said Miller-Morgan. “The other thing is that there really is an impetus now to get together more regularly.”

On the bright side, field biologists have recently observed relatively large numbers of juvenile sea stars in a wide variety of tidal zones along the west coast.

“It is encouraging that the juvenile sea stars are beginning to emerge,” said Rumrill.  “Juveniles have become a prominent component of the remaining populations at several sites, and the mixed groups of tiny and middle-sized stars may be an indicator of multiple recruitment events.  However, it is not clear what role these new juveniles will pay in the overall recovery of sea star communities.”

The outbreak is gaining national attention since reports of a similar outbreak on the East Coast.  Marine animal health experts from both coasts will meet at an upcoming Fish Health Conference in South Carolina to discuss parallels in the syndrome. Rumrill and Miller-Morgan also plan another West Coast symposium to share what researchers and aquarists are learning about the syndrome and what might be done in response.

For more information, or to assist with a citizen science project, visit the Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring website.

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Experts–doing as?

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 11:21am

I read. A lot.

I also blog. Weekly, unless I’m not in the office.

This past week I read (again) Harold Jarche’s blog. He posts periodically on interesting social media finds. Some of these finds are relevant to evaluation (even if they are not framed that way). His post on October 17 included a post from Kate Pinner called Half-baked ideas  (She is found on twitter @kmpinner ).  She says, “Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you should: It’s rewarding to give other people a chance to shine.”

Pinner’s comment is related to a thought I’ve been mulling for some time now (a couple of years, actually). That is the whole idea of “doing as.”

David Fetterman talks about empowerment evaluation (a model) that allows evaluators to (in my understanding) give evaluation away, to work themselves out of a job. Wikipedia (a quick and easy resource) says that empowerment evaluation is “…designed to help communities monitor and evaluate their own performance. It is used in comprehensive community initiatives as well as small-scale settings and is designed to help groups accomplish their goals.” Many programs are done in small scale settings by (small) groups. Fetterman has a good idea; I don’t think he goes far enough, though certainly farther than the “doing to” one often sees with evaluation. (Evaluators are experts so listen to them.) Empowerment evaluation sounds a lot like “doing with”. Pinner says that maybe the other person has a good idea and that good idea needs to be used. Pinner’s statement sounds like it could fit in empowerment evaluation.

New and related topic.

I just finished watching a TedTalk by Susan Cain about the “Power of the Introvert”. She advocates that three activities to support introverts:

  1. Stop the madness for constant group work at schools and work;
  2. Go into the wilderness; and
  3. Take a good look at what is inside your “suitcase”–and take them/it out

I’m sure you are wondering how this introvert stuff ties in to the evaluation stuff I started with. Pinner says, “Creativity needs space: If you provide someone the solution they never really have a chance to think outside the box and innovate.” The someone may need to “go into the wilderness” of innovation. The someone may need to work alone and unpack their suitcase. (I know I do.) That is were “doing as” comes into play. If you as an evaluator work at being one of the group with whom you are doing the evaluation (although you may never actually BE one of the group because of the cultural divide), you can allow people to do the above three things. It is a “emptying the suitcase” opportunity. It allows creativity to exist.

my .

molly.

 

 

 

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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs