Keith Tidball participates in international URBIS workshop

Jerusalem, Israel recently hosted a 2 day workshop on URBIS – Urban Biospheres, a collaborative program among partners such the Cornell DNR Civic Ecology Lab, the Stockholm Resilience Center, ICLEI, UNESCO, and others.   Keith Tidball was among thirteen international experts in ecology, biodiversity management and community engagement, who convened with over 50 key local professionals to produce strategies for moving forward with an urban biosphere concept that transcends municipal boundaries and is based on cooperation in the region. Their work, using Jerusalem as a case study, is currently being summarized for presentation at the Rio+20 Summit in June. The following are reviews of the workshop and two pieces on the symbolically important swift (apus apus) including a short film documenting the Annual Welcome Ceremony for the Swifts at the Western Wall, which concluded the workshop events:

DNR Alumnus Jacob Johnston Announces the Grand Opening of a New Web Site and Land Management Business at

Private land use can produce valuable products and services but may lead to environmental degradation. Many management practices impact the natural regimes that normally protect and encourage the diversity and abundance of native vegetation. This can alter the succesion of hardwood forest regeneration, increase erosion, allow invasive species intrusion and perpetuate habitat loss. Proper integration of land use with land stewardship can mitigate these negative effects by restoring the natural patterns and processes that drive healthy ecosystems. Benefits of stewardship practices include increased wildlife sightings, improved access for hunting and recreation, beautiful seasonal blooms, long term stability, and the potential to generate income through tax credits, tax deductions, and other financial incentives.

All private land owners should have a professional land manager that is concerned with their best interests in mind and provides services and guidance for production, compliance, environmental protection, and financial incentives for conservation efforts. Jacob Johnston, a Cornell DNR alumnus, recently started The Nature Steward to provide “Eco-Logical” solutions and stewardship options for private land owners.

The Nature Steward offers integrated and adaptive management planning to bring out the true nature of your property. Whether it’s forest or field, streams or wetland, or a diverse combination, The Nature Steward can implement a plan for habitat improvement and site stability. This can include invasive species removal, native plant restoration, timber stand improvement, and disease or pest control.

“I’m excited to announce the grand opening of my new web site,,  and Land Management Business. I hope to attract lots of visitors (and prospective customers), so I invite you to visit my site now to learn more!” – Jacob Johnston

Warmer weather means more animals abound

DNR Professor Paul Curtis was featured in an Ithaca Journal article earlier this month. Due to temperatures that are unusually high and little snowfall this winter, there has been an impact on the local wildlife. Black bear, mosquitos, and skunk sightings have happened earlier this year than they have in the past. The article describes ways to deal with the wild animals and avoid negative wildlife-human interactions.

Read the full Ithaca Journal article here.

Warmer summers could cause trout populations to dwindle

From the Cornell Chronicle

March 26, 2012

Warmer summers could cause trout populations to dwindle

Warmer summers mean later spawning times and fewer nests for brook trout.

The New York state fish could be in jeopardy due to climate change, warn Cornell scientists.

Warmer summers mean later fall spawning times and fewer nests for brook trout, which could eventually affect the fish’s population numbers.

Cliff Kraft, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources, and four other researchers looked at 11 years of data from Rock Lake in the Adirondacks to find the link between summer temperatures and spawning times for brook trout. Cornell has a 60-year history of research in Adirondack lakes, providing the researchers with long-term data on temperatures and brook trout spawning times.

“The key thing is they are cold-water fish and need groundwater to spawn,” Kraft said.

The warmer summer temperatures have had a “sub-lethal effect,” Kraft said. Warmer summers don’t kill the fish, but lead to fewer nests — called redds — and a late start for those eggs that are laid.

“These trout can’t build gonads in the summer,” Kraft said. “They’re burning more energy to survive, so they don’t have energy to produce eggs. The warmer it gets, the fewer fish are spawning; some just give up.”

Cliff Kraft

In a study published in the Global Change Biology journal March 13, the researchers argue that temperature can be linked to the delay in spawning.

An average difference in mean summer daily air temperature of 1 degree Celsius delayed spawning by about one week and reduced the number of redds constructed by 65, they found.

“The last brook trout in this lake is not about to drop dead, but warming temperatures present a substantial threat,” Kraft said.

Dana Warren, Kraft’s former Ph.D. student who is now at Oregon State University, said warmer temperatures also mean earlier ice breaks, earlier turnover times for lakes and earlier peaks for plankton blooms.

All of these factors can affect the food source available for the young fish when they do emerge. If fish are relying on that plankton when they hatch, they may be weeks too late, and the natural synchrony of the blooms and the hatching period are pulled out of whack in two directions, Warren said.

The study used a long time frame to look beyond acute effects and discover potential latent effects of climate change, Warren added.

The researchers believe unstratified lakes — or lakes shallow enough not to have layers of water at different temperatures and densities — will become more common. That could pose further threats to fish like trout, which take refuge in cool water, Warren said.

“This study highlights the importance of looking at residency and non-migratory populations,” he said.

Fernow Hall Renovation Update as of March 26, 2012

Dear Natural Resources Department and Graduate Students,

Below is an update on the Fernow renovation.

The dry wall on exterior walls is going up:


The exterior walls are drywalled and the interior framing is underway on the first, second and third floors.  The opening under the window is where the heating/cooling unit (called a fan coil unit) will go.

This is a mock up of what the proposed fan coil unit covering will look like.  Yes it is wood and yes they are having troubles with the implementation, so we will see what the final product looks like.

This shot is taken from the first floor.  Notice they have opened up the entryway from the stairs into the hallway to the original arch.

The ground floor slab has been removed and pouring the new slab is in process.  The base of the newelevator is at the right.

The plumbing and electric on the ground floor is going in:

The new slab on the west side of the ground floor is ready  to be poured:

…and the new slab on the west side of the ground floor.  Hope they didn’t forget any pipes.

The front side of Fernow is being excavated to allow more light into the offices on the southeast side and to waterproof the walls and window wells.

The south wall waterproofing is almost completed.  No more water coming in the windows during a hard rain!

The annex on the east side of Fernow where CALS IT used to live is gone….

…and the excavation for the new classroom foundation has started:

Sarah Gould

Senior Administrative Manager

Natural Resources