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The boom-and-bust life of defoliating insects

Amy Grotta's Tree Topics - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 12:35pm

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

It is shaping up to be another exciting year in forest health here in northwest Oregon. Fortunately, neither of the two defoliating insects currently on the scene are serious threats to forest or human health, but they are certainly causing a stir.

Right now, Columbia County is in the midst of the largest documented western tent caterpillar outbreak that Oregon has seen in two decades, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. I first noticed a few tent caterpillar clusters on one site in the area two years ago. Last summer, our Extension office received many calls as the caterpillar population built up.  Aerial surveys done a few weeks ago show that at least 13,000 acres are affected in the county this year.

Map and aerial view showing extent of western tent caterpillar defoliation, early June. Affected areas are brown in the photo. Source: Oregon Department of Forestry

The caterpillars are everywhere in the most heavily affected areas. It’s impossible to move without stepping on them, and looking up through a stand of alder, it looks like early spring as there are no leaves left on the trees.

Western tent caterpillars infected by a virus hang in an upside-down V. Photo: Amy Grotta

When the population gets to this level, natural parasites and diseases set in. Upon closer inspection, one can see that some of the caterpillars are hanging limply from their midsections: a symptom that these diseases are beginning to take hold, signaling the end of the boom years and the beginning of the bust.

Other defoliating insects follow similar boom-and-bust cycles, in concert with their respective natural enemies. The western oak looper, which made its appearance in 2012 and 2013 in the mid-Willamette Valley, and the pine butterfly, which affected over 250,000 acres in eastern Oregon in 2011-12, are two examples. Reports are beginning to trickle in that the oak looper is still on the scene in places this year, but the pine butterfly outbreak is over. In 2013, researchers in eastern Oregon observed abundant “boom” populations of two insects that are predators of the pine butterfly larvae.

In Columbia County, 2014 will go down in the books as another “year of the caterpillar”. Longtime residents can recall the years marked by previous outbreaks of these insects, just as with big floods and wind storms. One Rainier old-timer recalls another big tent caterpillar year in the 1950’s.

The interactions between these forest insects and their natural enemies are an example of how biodiversity at the smallest scale within a forest system leads to patterns that we can observe. Sadly, in our coastal ecosystem, a pathogen is killing off sea stars in unprecedented numbers. It remains to be seen whether the sea stars will be able to rebound, or if they will be busted for good.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Virtual impossibility

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 2:28pm

Recently, I received the following comment: “In today’s world it’s virtually impossible to keep up with facebook, twitter, news, tv, movies email, texts, etc.”

It was in response to a blog post about making a difference. How do you know? Given that most of what was suggested happens in the virtual world, the play on words is interesting. How is it impossible–because there is too much information? because you are too distracted by the virtual part of all the information and get lost? because virtuality it is not clearly understood? because of something else?  I personally find I can get lost when I spend all day on line (virtual). It isn’t real, actually. I have no sense of what is happening and what isn’t happening. Even with the feeds from news lines, I find I have to double check my facts. Yet even as I say this, the virtual is expanding (go here). I have heard about Web 2.0; hadn’t heard about IoE (Internet of Everything)…the CEO of Cisco (John Chambers) stated that the IoE depends on the architecture, the systems integration. Is virtual the way of the world? It certainly isn’t the future any more; it is now. I have to ask, though, what about people…Given that much evaluation is now being done with the use of virtual tools, are we really understanding what difference is being made? Or are there just connections?

The individual continued with the comment by saying, “Keep up your small voice. Some are listening.” Those “listening” are certainly reflected in the number of comments I received on the posts about making a difference in the last two days (over 45).  This may certainly be a way of engaging; I know it is outreaching. It is only my small voice; it is rewarding to know that some are listening/reading. Even if they only stay a short while.

My two cents. (my small voice).

molly.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

30 is the rule of thumb…

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Thu, 05/29/2014 - 1:48pm

In a recent post, I said that 30 was the rule of thumb, i.e., 30 cases was the minimum needed in a group to be able to run inferential statistics and get meaningful results.  How do I know, a colleague asked? (Specifically,  ” Would you say more about how it takes approximately 30 cases to get meaningful results, or a good place to find out more about that?”) When I was in graduate school, a classmate (who was into theoretical mathematics) showed me the mathematical formula for this rule of thumb. Of course I don’t remember the formula, only the result. So I went looking for the explanation. I found this cite. Although my classmate did go into the details of the chi-square distribution and the formula computations, this article doesn’t do that. It even provides an Excel Demo for calculating sample size and verifying this rule of thumb. I am so relieved that there is another source besides my memory.

 

New Topic:

I will be attending the 15 annual Engagement Scholarship Consortium   meeting this fall. I’ve submitted a poster, titled Is blogging just outreach? Can blogs also engage? My contention is that reading is a form of engagement and analytics will support that. I am gathering support from my readers and their comments. Two comments are posted below.

“Blogging provides two distinct benefits, engages the reader with new content, but also expands on the sites cyber footprint, thus increasing CTR and Impressions in the search engines.”

“I would say blogs that have regular readers and are engaged with commenting are definitely making a difference.”

These are different takes on engagement from what passes for engagement, where it is assumed that the “target audience” is engaged when the target audience is contributing. An evaluation colleague calls this “doing as”. Extension has always been about the process of “doing to”; lately (in the last 15  years or so), Extension has moved into the arena of “doing with” .  When Extension  consistently  implements a program “doing as”, outreach and engagement will be the norm. What do you think, reader–are blogs a form of engagement?

My two cents.

Molly.

 

 

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

“Stranded” seal pups probably aren’t

Sea Grant - Fri, 05/23/2014 - 9:12am

NEWPORT – Around this time each year, many baby seal pups find their way to Oregon’s beaches … and each year, well-meaning people  put the young animals in danger by trying to “rescue” them.

The word from the experts: Keep your distance, keep your dogs on leash – and whatever you do, don’t touch. The pups are simply waiting for their mothers to return from hunting for food.

“It is perfectly normal for seal pups to be left alone on the beach in the spring,” said Oregon State University biologist Jim, who coordinates the statewide Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network headquartered at OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. “Newborn pups typically spend several hours each day waiting for their mothers to reunite with them.”

“Adult female seals spend most of their time in the water, hunting for food, and only come ashore periodically to nurse their pups,” Rice said. “But the mothers are wary of people and unlikely to rejoin a pup if there is activity nearby.”

Rice urges beach goers to stay at least 50 yards from any pup they spot on the beach – and to make sure children and dogs do, too. Approaching the young animals can cause life-threatening stress, and will almost certainly keep their mothers from rejoining them.

Harbor seals on the Oregon coast give birth from March through June, with a peak in mid-May, and authorities have grown accustomed to reports of “stranded” baby seals as more summer visitors come to the coast. Such reports are unnecessary unless an animal appears to be injured or in distress – or if you spot someone bothering or harassing the animals. In such cases, Rice urges a call to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888, Rice said.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, people harrassing these animals – even out of a misplaced desire to help – risk being fined. The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits interference with seal pups and other marine mammals on the beach.

Learn more:
Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Field guide helps you identify aquatic invaders

Sea Grant - Thu, 05/22/2014 - 2:47pm

Oregon Sea Grant is pleased to announce the release of its latest field guide, On the Lookout for Aquatic Invaders: Identification Guide for the West. The guide is an updated, revised, and expanded edition of its popular predecessor, which covered aquatic invasives in the Northwest only.

Nonnative species are altering freshwater and marine ecosystems in the West, and more species are introduced every year.

This identification guide was developed to help watershed councils and other community-based groups increase their understanding of aquatic invasive species, and to initiate monitoring efforts for species of particular concern to their watersheds.

The introduction provides an overview of activities that can spread invasive species, a look at their economic impacts, and suggestions for ways we can work together to prevent and control their spread. The rest of the book covers background information and key identification characteristics of many aquatic invaders that are already established or likely to become established in the West, and tells where to access additional experts and how to report sightings of invasive species.

The 92-page guide is lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs to aid identification, is coil bound to lie flat when opened, and has a laminated cover for water resistance.

On the Lookout for Aquatic Invaders is available for just $8.95 per copy, plus $4.50 for shipping and handling. You can order it here.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

As boating season opens, remember: Pump, Don’t Dump!

Sea Grant - Tue, 05/20/2014 - 2:43pm

With Memorial Day coming up – and National Safe Boating Week underway now – a reminder that one way boaters can make the waters safer for everyone is to take advantage of sewage pumpout stations rather than dumping their waste in the ocean, rivers and lakes.

Dumping waste isn’t just bad for the environment and other water users – it’s against the law, and boaters caught dumping on inland waters or within 3 miles of the coast at sea risk hefty fines.

Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon State Marine Board collaborated on this short, humorous public service announcement demonstrating just how easy proper waste disposal can be:

OSG has also designed and begun placing pumpout and dump station signs at marinas up and down the Oregon coast and on selected lakes.

Learn more

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Survey data

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Mon, 05/19/2014 - 5:16pm

Had a comment a while back on analyzing survey data…hmm…that is a quandary as most surveys are done on line (see Survey monkey, among others).

If you want to reach a large audience (because your population from which you sampled is large), you will probably use an on-line survey. The on-line survey companies will tabulate the data for you. Can’t guarantee that the tabulations you get will be what you want, or will tell you want you want to know. Typically (in my experience), you can get an Excel file which can be imported into a soft ware program and you can run your own analyses, separate from the on line analyses.

However…if your sample is your population and often times it is, you may not use an on-line system because your target audience is small, 30 or so. That being the case, a mail survey or a face-to-face survey will work–sometimes paper and pencil is still best.  Regardless of what form you use (and Dillman is my favorite guide), you will want to know something about your target audience. So the first thing you do is to compute the demographic statistics. Demographic statistics are the frequency and the percents of your different variables as well as the measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode) and distribution (range, standard deviation, and dispersion). These statistics may may include the demographic variables. You really want to know how many of each option you have. Most journals want to know that information as well as results of your other questions (which hopefully will tell you if you are making a difference with your program).

Then if you have a way to compare the participants in your target audience you will want to do those comparisons. Rule of thumb, it takes approximately 30 cases (participants in your target audience) to have a meaningful result. I think it is important to remember the difference between parametric and non-parametric statistics. It is rare that you will know the parameters of your target audience when it comes to descriptive statistics. I also think it is important to keep in mind that computing a mean on data that are NOT interval probably doesn’t make sense (after all, what does a mean of 3.5 actually tell you on a 4 point Likert scale?). This is just a quick review. I suggest you look in my archives for more detail–search on statistics or analysis; you will find a lot of relevant posts.

Analysis can be fun…

–molly.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

A summer opportunity – Oregon South Coast Tourism

Sea Grant - Fri, 05/16/2014 - 3:56pm

College students: Looking for a great way to spend the summer while learning and working with coastal Oregon communities? Take a look at our newest fellowship opportunity on Oregon’s south coast!

Oregon Sea Grant and the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance (WRCA) are offering an epic summer outreach experience. One upper-level undergraduate or graduate level student will experience the beauty of the south coast and help develop WRCA coastal tourism programs and initiatives to vitalize south coast communities. This hands-on experience features mentorship by a career professional, student housing in Bandon, Oregon, if needed, and a summer stipend. The fellowship dates are flexible -between June and September- and will span about ten weeks.

Visit http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/education/fellowships for more details about the fellowship and to submit an application.

Application deadline: May 30, 2014.

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Wednesday’s musings

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Wed, 05/14/2014 - 3:34pm

I had a comment about last week’s post on Sustainability and Evaluation. I will share it here. I wonder what you readers think of this comment:

In preventive health/health promotion, ‘sustainability’ has generally been used to indicate that the intervention program, or elements of it, or benefits of it, are continued beyond the life of the funded program. It is about extending the value of the investment in a program, beyond the life of the funded program. So it’s about a legacy, about the continuation of things achieved, about leaving things, circumstances or communities better off than when you first arrived (more empowered, more resourceful, more able to continue improvements on their own).

I wonder how that fits with the definitions I provided? Is this a different sustainability? Does it speak to the future generations? Does that include equity and justice?

NEW TOPIC

Not knowing what to post today, I turned to Scriven’s book, Evaluation Thesaurus. It is a wealth of information on all (or almost all) things evaluation. The page to which I opened listed the “phenomenonology of evaluation” and “philanthropic foundations”.  I will summarize.

Phenomenonology of evaluation (pg. 262) is related to the psychology of evaluation. Scriven lists “certain highly functional aspects” of evaluating or being evaluated that include 1) “refocusing”; 2) “intimate interplay between the creative, critical, and data-gathering aspects of evaluation”; 3) “role of empathy”.  He also lists dysfunctional aspects, such as “the perceptions that taking account of evaluations amounts to i) conceding lack of competence, or ii)conceding power to the evaluator.” He suggests that the reader see “Goal-free evaluation.”

Philanthropic foundations (pg 262) talks about evaluations for those foundations that do philanthropic work. He provides a history (albeit brief) and justifications for evaluations conducted in foundations (contractual and fairness obligations). He goes on to list areas “that need evaluation and not necessarily professional evaluations”. He indicates that “evaluations of funded projects…fall into three maj0r categories of benefit: i) help for the recipients in achieving their goals; iiensuring accountability to donors’ wishes; and iii)improving cost-effectiveness.

Worth reading.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Invasive species aide named OSU Student Leader

Sea Grant - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 11:00am

Jennifer Lam, an Oregon State University graduate student who has been part of Oregon Sea Grant’s aquatic invasive species team since 2009, has been named one of OSU’s Outstanding Student Leaders for 2014 by the OSU Women’s Center.

The award will be presented as part of the Women’s Center’s annual awards program on Monday, May 19 from 2:30-4:30 pm.

Lam, who is working on a master’s degree in Marine Resource Management, was nominated by her Sea Grant supervisors for her “outstanding initiative and leadership in helping us educate the public about the ecosystem threats posed by invasive animals and plants.”

Since coming to Sea Grant as a PROMISE intern, she has worked with the program’s watershed and invasive species team led by specialist Sam Can, developing k-12 curricula and public information guides, producing Congressional briefing papers as part of a multi-state legislative framework for controlling the spread of highly invasive mussels by recreational boaters, and conducting her own research into the problem of household pharmaceuticals winding up in the public water supply through improper disposal. Among the products she developed for the program is a classroom “pet pledge” – available in English and Spanish – to educate k-12 teachers and students about how classroom science “pets” can become invasive if released into the wild.

As an undergraduate, Lam served as event coordinator for the MU Program Council, receiving a 2010 award for her work; as a graduate student, she serves as a representative to the Student Advisory Committee of the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

Learn more…

 

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Sustainability relates to evaluation

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 2:25pm

To quote Annie Leonard, the word sustainability “gets thrown around all the time now and it’s not always clear what is intended.” She goes on to talk about the UN World Commission on Environment and Development definition of sustainable development as “…meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” That is a good definition, I think. Yet it is missing something which (according to Leonard) are equity and justice. Robert Gilman defines sustainability as “…equity over time”. She says (and I agree), quoting the Center for Sustainable Communities, that sustainability “consider(s) the whole instead of the specific. Sustainability emphasizes relationships rather than pieces in isolation.”

Now, given that evaluation to be effective must look at the whole (here is a good example of when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts); and

given that evaluation works to find out information that will benefit both the current and future generations; and

given that evaluation works to determine what difference was made in people’s lives, it seems to me that there is a relationship here that needs to be acknowledged.

A colleague of mine works in youth development and loves the job. My colleague has to determine the value of the program; the program needs to be evaluated. Yet, if the work is only for the program (i.e., the pieces in isolation) not the whole, what good is it that my colleague loves the job? The relationship between the youth involved and the bigger picture is truly more than can probably be captured in any evaluation. Still, the evaluation needs to be planned to consider that, even if the resources are limited (that is the “probably” above).

So yes, evaluation has something to learn from sustainability. Certainly sustainability can learn from evaluation (and economics, and equity, and ecology…).

NEW TOPIC

I’ve been, once again, getting comments about making a difference. I thought I’d post some of those comments (I’ve copied and pasted comments so the spelling is as it appears in the original text):

  • …every blog post makes a difference in a way or in another. You can answer at your questions just seeing how many comments are here, how many people are interested in answering you. I think you are a good person, and everything said by a good person is always a life’s lesson to keep in mind. Thank you for every helpful information, good job!

  • It may be a temporary difference – i.e. limited on the time, but of course that at least for some seconds your writing are touching the life’s of all your readers.

  • Every blog or article makes a difference to those who read it! They might strongly agree or disagree with what the blogger has wrote, making a difference by reafirming there opinion or being outraged that somebody else looks at ideas different to them! Keep writing Molly, you are making people think, which is always good
  • I think the best measure of the effectiveness of a blog are the number of shares it gets, as people that found something useful in it tend to want to share with others.

  • …I have written quite a bit about this topic and challenge that bloggers face and the bottom line is that you really can’t measure the value.  Sure I think asking for responses like you did might help you see a bit of it, but the reality is 99.9% of people will never comment.  As such, we as bloggers have to remember that each pageview is a real person who was on our site and who was impacted by what we wrote!

  •  Blogs are probably the best tool for engaging a customer in todays times.

My question: are blogs engaging readers or are they only outreach, even if the blog is read?

P.S. I also got a lot of comments about my analytics post…for next time.

 

References:

Leonard, A. (2011). Story of Stuff. NY: Free Press. (good book–worth the read)

Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). NY: UN World Commission on Environment and Development. http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf

Gilman, R., Director, Context Institute.

  • He says:  Sustainability is equity over time.  As a value, it refers to giving equal weight in your decisions to the future as well as the present.  You might think of it as extending the Golden Rule through time, so that you do unto future generations (as well as to your present fellow beings) as you would have them do unto you.

Center for Sustainable Communities is quoted in a variety of places: http://sustainablesonoma.org/keyconcepts/sustainability.html; http://isocs-sustainability.wikispaces.com, among others.

  • The entire definition is: Sustainability is part of a trend to…consider the whole instead of the specific. Sustainability emphasizes relationships rather than pieces in isolation…Sustainability is not about regressing to primitive living conditions. It is about understanding our situation, and developing as communities in ways that are equitable, and make sense ecologically and economically.

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Science Pub to explore the future of oceans

Sea Grant - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 9:31am

CORVALLIS – The effects of global climate change and associated threats to the oceans are the topic for the May 12 edition of Science Pub Corvallis, presented at the Majestic Theatre, 115 SW 2nd St., from 6-8 pm. Admission to the public talk is free.

Andrew Thurber, a post-doctoral fellow in Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS), will lead the discussion in an informal presentation where questions are welcomed.

The Earth’s oceans face multiple climate-related stresses: warming temperatures, low oxygen, acidification and a lack of biological productivity. As marine ecosystems respond, the consequences could be felt directly by about 2 billion people whose lives depend on ocean fisheries and other resources. Those are among the results reported by an international team of 29 scientists who studied the influence of climate change on marine systems from the poles to the Equator.

Thurber, who holds a Ph.D from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, helped to conceive the study and was a co-author of the report that appeared in October 2013 in the journal PLOS Biology. “What is really sobering about these findings is that they don’t even include other impacts to the world’s oceans such as sea level rise, pollution, over-fishing, and increasing storm intensity and frequency,” he says. “All of these could compound the problem significantly.”

Thurber will discuss the study and actions needed to avert the most significant changes.  His research focuses on deep-sea ecosystems, particularly the role of invertebrates in recycling nutrients and sequestering carbon. He has conducted experiments under seasonal sea ice in Antarctica and explored communities that live around methane seeps near New Zealand and Costa Rica.

Science Pub Corvallis is sponsored by OSU’s TERRA magazine

Learn more …
Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Oregon Sea Grant wins two Hermes Creative Awards

Sea Grant - Wed, 05/07/2014 - 4:59pm

Oregon Sea Grant Communications has won two awards in this year’s Hermes Creative Awards competition: a Gold Award for the summer 2013 issue of Confluence magazine, and an Honorable Mention for the online video A Big Change.

For more information about the Hermes Creative Awards, please visit http://www.hermesawards.com

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Food Science Camp 2013 and Erik Fooladi

Bringing Food Chemistry to Life - Fri, 07/19/2013 - 1:44pm

We participate in the Oregon State U Food Science Camp for middle school students.

Part of the STEM [science technology engineering math] Academies@OSU Camps.

We teach about bread fermentations, yeast converting sugars to CO2 and ethanol, lactobacillus converting sugar to lactic and acetic acids, how the gluten in wheat can form films to trap the gas and  allow the dough to rise. On the way we teach about flour composition, bread ingredients and their chemical functionalities, hydration, the relationships between enzymes and substrates [amylases on starch to produce maltose for the fermentation organisms]; gluten development, the gas laws and CO2′s declining solubility in the aqueous phase during baking which expands the gas bubbles and leads to the oven spring at the beginning of baking; and the effect of pH on Maillard browning using soft pretzels that they get to shape themselves..

All this is illustrated by hands on [in] activities: they experience the hydration and the increasing cohesiveness of the dough as they mix it with their own hands, they see their own hand mixed dough taken through to well-risen bread. They get to experience dough/gluten development in a different context with the pasta extruder, and more and more.

A great way to introduce kids to the relevance of science to their day to day lives: in our case chemistry physics biochemistry and biology in cereal food processing.

We were also fortunate to have Erik Fooladi from Volda University College in Norway to observe the fun: http://www.fooducation.org/

If you have not read his blog and you like what we do here: you should!

 

endless pasta

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Good Cheese, Bad Cheese

Bringing Food Chemistry to Life - Wed, 07/10/2013 - 1:25pm

pH, colloidal calcium phosphate, aging, proteolysis, emulsification or its loss and their interactions lead to optimum melting qualities for cheeses. A module in this year’s food systems chemistry class.

This module was informed by this beautiful article “The beauty of milk at high magnification“ by Miloslav Kalab, which is available on the Royal Microscopical Society website.

http://www.rms.org.uk/Resources/Royal%20Microscopical%20Society/infocus/Images/TheBeautyOfMilk.pdf

Of course accompanied by real sourdough wholegrain bread baked in out own research bakery.

Inspired by…

“The Science of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.”

by: Jennifer Kimmel

in: The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking

Edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden

 

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

February 2011- Nutrition Education Volunteers taking “vacation”

Family Food Educators of Central Oregon - Tue, 02/01/2011 - 9:24am

I’m back from maternity leave and getting resettled into some new responsibilities.  We had a staff member leave us, so Glenda and I are having to pick up the work load until we find someone new, or our responsibilites change.  Being a new mom is lots of work too, so I’ve gone part time (24 hours aweek) but am still trying to get everything done… that being said, we’ve decided to put our nutrition education volunteering on hold, until I have a managable workload.

We look forward to being able to start things back up in the summer or fall of 2011.  Thanks so much and since a few of you have been asking, here’s a photo of our boy.  He is 5 months old today!

Bundled out in the cold!

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs