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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

Explore Chile

Forestry Events - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 6:44am
Sunday, November 2, 2014 8:00 AM - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 5:00 PM

The Tour:  A 10-day adventure.  Explore one of the world's most innovative forest sectors, visit unique forests and landscapes, and learn about a growing conservation movement, all while digging into the rich history, culture, art and cuisine of Chile.

Led by OSU Extension educators Max Bennett and Nicole Strong, hosted by Anglatin Travel.

Who is this for?  This study tour is designed for woodland owners, forest managers and other natural resource professionals, students, and anyone curious about forests, forestry and people in Chile, one of the world's most vibrant countries.

  • $2,853 Double Occupancy, excluding airfare to/from Chile
  • $867 additional for single room.

Learn More:  Slideshow, itinerary, maps, registration and more:  http://bit.ly/MSwslb

Enroll by July 15, 2014

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

Science Pub Featuring Megan MacDonald, PhD

Health & Wellness Events - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 6:42am
Monday, November 10, 2014 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

"I Learned to Ride a Two-Wheeled Bike. So What? Physical activity and children with autism spectrum disorder" Speaker: Megan MacDonald, PhD College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Held on the second Monday of the month, 6 to 8 p.m. in the Old World Deli, 341 2nd St. in Corvallis, Science Pub is sponsored by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Downtown Corvallis Association and Terra magazine at  Oregon State University.

Science Pub Corvallis offers cool presentations in an informal atmosphere where you can interact with experts and where there are no silly questions. No scientific background is required – just bring your curiosity, sense of humor, and appetite for food, drinks and knowledge!

In recent years, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has gained the public’s attention, with headlines ranging from rising prevalence rates to the need for inclusive communities. Although science is making huge strides forward in better understanding ASD, 1 in 50 school-aged children are growing up on the spectrum.

Simultaneously, our nation is in the midst of a physical inactivity epidemic, and children with ASD have not been spared. This presentation will briefly summarize recent news about ASD and explore the role of motor skills, physical activity and fitness in overall development. This will include some key “how to” strategies in respect to riding a two-wheeled bike (a difficult task for many children with ASD), as well as surprising news about other aspects of physical development. The good news is that we can teach these physically active behaviors to help ensure a healthy future.

Megan MacDonald is an assistant professor in the Exercise & Sport Science Program in the College of Public Health & Human Sciences at Oregon State University.  She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2011.  Her research is focused on how motor skills and physically active lifestyles improve the lives of children and youth with and without disabilities, and she has a specific interest in the movement skills of children with autism spectrum disorder.

 

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

CPHHS Research Seminar

Health & Wellness Events - Fri, 11/07/2014 - 6:45am
Friday, November 7, 2014 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

"Framing the Future:  The Second Hundred Years of Education for Public Health", Donna Peterson, ScD, MHS, Dean of the College of Public Health, University of South Florida.

Prior to joining USF, Dr. Petersen was Professor in the Departments of Maternal and Child Health, and Health Care Organization and Policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health. From 1996 - 2003, Dr. Petersen was the senior associate dean for academic affairs at the UAB School of Public Health. From 1990-1995, she served as Director of the Division of Family Health at the Minnesota Department of Health.

She currently serves as Chair of The Framing the Future: The Second Hundred Years of Education for Public Health Task Force. This Taskforce was formed by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) in the summer of 2011 in recognition of the rapidly changing environment for education in public health, a consequence of the unprecedented upheavals both in health care and in higher education.

Dr. Petersen earned her masters and doctoral degrees from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She has also held positions with the federal government and the state of Maryland and has served on numerous community agency boards and gubernatorial commissions and task forces. She has devoted particular attention to public health responsibilities in monitoring health status, access, utilization, and quality of health care and in the areas of systems level accountability and the development of population-based indicators. She is the author of numerous publications, book chapters and a textbook on needs assessment in public health.

Fundraiser: Multiple Sclerosis Exercise Program

Health & Wellness Events - Thu, 11/06/2014 - 6:44am
Thursday, November 6, 2014 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Many Hands Trading MU will donate $1 of every $4 in sales to our Multiple Sclerosis Exercise Program. The MSEP focuses on increasing independence and functional mobility based on each participant's interest, abilities and needs. Each participant receives one-on-one support from an College of Public Health and Human Sciences student.

Mentored Management Planning Shortcourse

Forestry Events - Thu, 11/06/2014 - 6:44am
Thursday, November 6, 2014 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

A written Forest Management Plan serves many purposes.  It helps you organize and plan for activites on your land.  It is a valuable communication tool for your family.  A plan is required for forest certification programs and it forms the foundation for sustainable forest management.  By writing part, or all of your own forest management plan, you gain a better understanding of your land and can potentially save on professional costs.

Writing a plan takes time and an understanding of your property, but the Mentored Management Planning shortcourse will guide you through the process.  In addition to the four class sessions, you will be paired with an experienced "mentor" who will provide one-on-one assistance.

To attend you must pre-rregister no later than October 24.

https://secure.oregonstate.edu/osuext/register/792

 

 

2014 Land Stewards Program

Forestry Events - Thu, 11/06/2014 - 6:44am
Thursday, November 6, 2014 1:00 PM - 5:30 PM

The Jackson County OSU Extesnion Service and Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District is please to offer the 2014 Land Steward Program.

This is an 11-week training course - weekly classes will meet at the OSU Extension auditorium, on Thursday afternoon, September 11 - December 4 from 1:00 - 5:30 p.m.. (With a break for the Thanksgiving holiday).

Land Steward training will help local small-acreage landowners learn about ways to create a healthy environment on their property through classroom sessions, field trips and the creation of a personalized management plan for their property, the course is targeting owners who want to learn how to balance sustainability with their rural lifestyle.

Land Stewards will be equipped to design and implement programs to help people:

  • Live safely in wildfire-prone areas
  • Identify and eradicate noxious weeds
  • Promote and develop wildlife habitat
  • Conserve water and reduce runoff
  • Reduce yard waste and wood biomass
  • Make their own mulch and compost
  • Maintain healthy trees and forest

Applications received before August 28th save $25 ($150 per person, or $20 for couples).

Applications received on/after August 29th, subject to standard fee ($175 per person, or $225 for couples).

For application please go to:  http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/sites/default/files/ls_application_course_info_2014.pdf

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

Food 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

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

CPHHS Homecoming events

Health & Wellness Events - Sat, 11/01/2014 - 5:49am
Saturday, November 1, 2014 (all day event)

This year, the college is bridging two powerhouse disciplines, Exercise and Sport Science and Nutrition, for a not-to-be-missed Homecoming bringing together the college community and celebrating accreditation and all we do to ensure lifelong health and well-being for every person, family and community in Oregon and beyond.

You won’t want to miss it — or the cool beaver-tail T-shirt!

Join us for the: BeaverBowl and GridIron Chef Contest.

Beaver Bowl

A football-themed fun run at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 1. A Beaver Dash is being planned for kids, and childcare will be offered during the fun run for children who are potty trained. Register now.

Following the run, don’t miss the second annual:

GridIron Chef Contest

Vote on your favorite healthy tailgate snack. While there, visit with alumni, students and college faculty and staff; check out the Moore Family Center’s new blender bike and grain-milling machines; enjoy beverages; and register for raffles.

Event organizers are working hard to create a memorable event. Visit the GridIron Chef Contest page to learn how to submit your entry. The deadline for entries is October 6, 2014.

See the CPHHS Homecoming page for details

 

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.

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

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs