Sustaining bluebirds, how they sustain us

ohio bluebird conference imageOARDC, CFAES’s research arm, welcomes the Ohio Bluebird Society’s Annual Education Conference Feb. 23. Attendance is free if you preregister, $5 at the door. Details and registration form (with PayPal option) here (pdf). Among the speakers: Greg Miller, “one of the guys from ‘The Big Year’ (book and movie),” and Jason Martin of Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology (video, 5:08). Bluebirds and other birds, by eating weed seeds and crop pests, help sustain farms, forests, gardens, and home landscapes.

Ohio State student group to hold Sustainability Town Hall Meeting Feb. 20

go sustainable flierThe Ohio State student group GO SUstainable holds an Ohio State Sustainability Town Hall Meeting Feb. 20. It’s an “interactive town hall-style meeting to learn and discuss sustainable practices at Ohio State and nearby,” according to the event’s Facebook page. “Environmental groups and students interested in sustainability are encouraged to attend.” Main topics: Energy, natural and built environments, and community involvement. Click here for the event flier and further details.

March 2: The future of urban farming in Ohio

Dr. Joe Kovach<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Urban FarmingNext in the “Grow Your Own” workshop series is “The Future of Producing Food in Urban Areas of Ohio” March 2. The program features recently retired CFAES researcher Joe Kovach, pictured, and a hoop house project developed by Columbus’s Godman Guild, Ohio State’s Knowlton School of Architecture, and CFAES’s research arm, OARDC. Co-sponsors of the series are the Columbus group Local Matters and CFAES’s outreach arm, OSU Extension.

Link to a video about the hoop house in our next post.

New shale partnership ‘will advance our shared, scientific understanding’

A Feb. 11 West Virginia University press release says Ohio State and WVU have signed a memorandum of understanding creating a shale energy partnership between the two schools, agreeing to work together to develop a joint research program in the Appalachian region’s developing shale energy industry.

“This singular partnership demonstrates the wisdom of universities collaborating with one another,” Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee said in the release. “West Virginia University and Ohio State have complementary research strengths in this area. Working together, our faculty will take a unique leadership role that will advance our shared, scientific understanding of the complex environmental and economic issues in shale energy.”

CFAES scientist: Urban coyotes more common than you think

image of coyote

The January/February issue of the Ohio State Alumni Magazine has a good story about CFAES’s Stan Gehrt and his research on urban coyotes. “Most people are living with coyotes, whether they know it or not,” Gehrt says. “And if they aren’t living with them today, they’re going to be living with them tomorrow.” A possible plus: Coyotes may be controlling unsustainable populations of urban deer and Canada geese. Read previous posts about Gehrt’s work here and here. (Photo by Christopher Bruno via Wikimedia Commons.)

Build a butterfly garden on Ohio State’s campus

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Butterfly WeedThey bring color to the world and inspire the minds of both the old and the young. They’re an iconic symbol of beauty and creativity. Without them, some of our flowers and crops wouldn’t grow. They represent a splash of color in a city full of gray. Butterflies are all this and more. A butterfly garden would be a great addition to any home, even one as big as Ohio State’s Columbus campus.

Butterflies have long been considered valuable species by scientists. They serve as pollinators for crops and gardens and are indicators of healthy habitats. In some cases, butterflies can even benefit local economies, drawing tourists from all over the world to view them in their splendor. One of butterflies’ biggest contributions to a community is the knowledge we gain from them.

First, ensure their existence

Having a butterfly garden on campus will give Ohio State faculty and students the opportunity to study these unique insects in their own backyard. Because of butterflies’ ecological sensitivity, they’re perfect for demonstrating the effects of landscape fragmentation on a species population. With the continuing growth of the world population, more and more habitats are being replaced by development. It is important to research how this fragmentation of the environment will affect the ecosystems of the world, and butterflies may offer scientists a window into the future. Where better to begin this important research than the labs at Ohio State? Butterflies can show us a myriad of things, but we must first ensure their existence before we can learn from them.

(Get a fact sheet about butterfly gardens from CFAES’s outreach arm, OSU Extension, here. Photo: Tiger swallowtail on butterfly weed by Thomas G. Barnes via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)