UW Today

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

October 11, 2016

Morel mushrooms pop up, cluster together after wildfires

morel mushroom

A new study finds that morel mushrooms cluster in groups across burned areas in the forest after a wildfire. It’s one of the only scientific studies to actually quantify morels’ abundance after a fire.

September 19, 2016

Microbes help plants survive in severe drought

Poplars given microbes survived better in drought conditions

Plants can better tolerate drought and other stressors with the help of natural microbes, University of Washington research has found. Specifically, plants that are given a dose of microbes stay green longer and are able to withstand drought conditions by growing more leaves and roots and using less water.

September 12, 2016

UW forestry student wins Bullitt Foundation’s top prize for wildlife conservation

Bogezi captures a crocodile during one of her research projects in Uganda.

A Q&A with Carol Bogezi, a UW doctoral student in environmental and forest sciences who received the 10th annual Bullitt Environmental Prize. The award recognizes people with exceptional potential to become powerful leaders in the environmental movement.

August 26, 2016

Interactive map shows where animals will move under climate change

animated map of U.S.

The University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy have created an animated map showing where mammals, birds and amphibians are projected to move in the Western Hemisphere in response to climate change.

August 18, 2016

From White House to Tacoma, WA, urban agriculture is growing

Sally Brown

UW professor Sally Brown and collaborators have published the most extensive compilation to date explaining how to grow urban agriculture, and how doing so could save American cities.

August 12, 2016

Q&A: Phil Levin joins UW, The Nature Conservancy in new role

Phil Levin

Phil Levin, a former senior scientist at NOAA Fisheries, recently began a joint role at the University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy. UW Today sat down with Levin to find out why he took this job and what he hopes to accomplish.

June 13, 2016

Eastern U.S. needs ‘connectivity’ to help species escape climate change

map showing different migration scenarios across US

A new study has found that only 2 percent of the eastern U.S. provides the kind of climate connectivity required by species that will likely need to migrate, compared to 51 percent of the western U.S.

June 9, 2016

Jerry Franklin named 2016’s ‘Eminent Ecologist’ by leading ecological group

Jerry Franklin, far right, teaches a class in the forest.

The Ecological Society of America has named University of Washington professor Jerry Franklin its “Eminent Ecologist” of 2016. The award, considered the organization’s most prestigious accolade, honors a senior ecologist who has made significant, long-standing contributions to the field of ecology.

June 3, 2016

Q&A: Peter Kahn on nature interaction, wildness in cities

photo of peter kahn

University of Washington professor Peter Kahn recently co-authored an opinion piece in the journal Science about the importance of interacting with nature in urban areas. UW Today asked Kahn a few more questions about the broader implications of his work.

Finding connections to nature in cities is key to healthy urban living

baby with sandy feet

The authors of a Science perspective piece discuss the growing tension between an arguably necessary role urban areas play in society and the numbing, even debilitating, aspects of cities that disconnect humans from the natural world.

May 20, 2016

Bacteria in branches naturally fertilize trees

Young poplar and willow trees along the Snoqualmie River.

A University of Washington team has demonstrated that poplar trees growing in rocky, inhospitable terrain harbor bacteria within them that could provide valuable nutrients to help the plant grow.

April 28, 2016

Wolf hunting near Denali, Yellowstone cuts wolf sightings in half

A wolf on the road in Denali.

Visitors to national parks are half as likely to see wolves in their natural habitat when wolf hunting is permitted just outside park boundaries, according to a new study.

April 21, 2016

UW’s Jerry Franklin honored for lifetime of forest research, policy

Jerry Franklin displaying his Pinchot Medallion award.

Jerry Franklin, a professor of environmental and forest sciences, was honored by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation for his lifelong work in forest ecology, conservation and policy.

April 14, 2016

Author, reporter Lynda V. Mapes discusses year with 100-year-old ‘Witness Tree’ in April 21 talk

Lynda V. Mapes

Local author and Seattle Times reporter Lynda V. Mapes is the featured speaker in this year’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences annual Sustaining Our World Lecture, 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21.

March 25, 2016

Arboretum trail project underway will expand public access

A conceptual image of a bridge.

Construction started this month on the Washington Park Arboretum’s new Arboretum Loop Trail, one of the largest improvement projects to date in the Seattle public garden.

March 16, 2016

New technique tracks ‘heartbeat’ of hundreds of wetlands

Wetland in Douglas County, Washington.

UW researchers have developed a new method to track how wetlands in Eastern Washington behave seasonally, which will also help monitor how they change as the climate warms.

March 11, 2016

Video contest challenges students to creatively define climate change

contest logo

The UW’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences is hosting its second-annual contest for undergraduate and high school students in Washington to create videos about what climate change means to them, in three minutes or less.

February 2, 2016

Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

Kids get creative with kale in Tacoma, Washington.

A University of Washington study looked at potential risks associated with growing vegetables in urban gardens and determined that the benefits of locally produced vegetables in cities outweigh any risks from gardening in contaminated soils.

January 20, 2016

What’s the name of that tree? New interactive plant map for arboretum

sample maps

First-time visitors and regulars to Washington Park Arboretum can now learn the names and origins of plants as well as save favorites while strolling through the grounds.

January 13, 2016

Fewer than 1 in 25 Seattleites can really eat locally


A new University of Washington study finds that urban crops in Seattle could only feed between 1 and 4 percent of the city’s population, even if all viable backyard and public green spaces were converted to growing produce.

Scientists solve long-standing ecological riddle

photo illustration

Researchers have found clear evidence that communities rich in species are substantially healthier and more productive than those depleted of species, once complicating factors are removed.

December 21, 2015

Rivers, lakes impact ability of forests to store carbon

A river in Washington state.

Forests help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by storing it in trees, but a sizeable amount of the greenhouse gas actually escapes through the soil and into rivers and streams, a new paper finds.

December 16, 2015

Composting food waste remains your best option, says UW study

food scraps in compost bin

A new University of Washington study confirms that composting food scraps is better than throwing them away, and also calculates the environmental benefits associated with keeping these organic materials out of landfills.

December 14, 2015

Seattle’s Ballard is ripe for green-space restoration, new report says

A vacant lot at Northwest 65th Street and 7th Avenue Northwest in the West Woodland section of Ballard.

A University of Washington graduate student saw green-starved Ballard as an opportunity to call attention to areas in the neighborhood that have restoration potential. Her new report, the “Ballard Green Spaces Project,” identifies 55 sites that could be restored as natural areas for people and wildlife, increasing the neighborhood’s total amount of accessible green spaces.

October 14, 2015

New study uses high-speed search methods to better estimate climate threats to biodiversity

Yellow-banded poison dart frog

In a study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers have used new high-performance computing methods and comprehensive data on the distribution of thousands of species to map the threat that climate change poses to birds, mammals and amphibians across the Western Hemisphere. They found that although Arctic areas have experienced the most rapid warming to date, climate-related threats to the Amazon basin’s biodiversity will eclipse those in other regions by the year 2100.

September 17, 2015

Scientists: Let wildfires burn when prudent

forest fire burning

In a commentary published Sept. 17 in Science, a team of scientists, including University of Washington researchers Jerry Franklin and James Agee, describe unique opportunities and provide suggestions to reform forest fire management to reduce the impacts of inevitable wildfires in future years.

September 4, 2015

Poplar trees are best bet for biofuel in UW-led research project

Poplar materials, including bark, leaves and wood, are used to make cellulosic ethanol.

A five-year, $40 million study is laying the foundation for a Pacific Northwest industry that converts sustainably produced poplar feedstock into fuels and chemicals. The research, led by the University of Washington, will seed the world’s first wood-based cellulosic ethanol production facility.

Climate change could leave Pacific Northwest amphibians high and dry

frog peeking out of water

A new model for snow-fed mountain wetlands projects that the extremely dry conditions seen this year could be commonplace by the 2070s, affecting mountain species.

June 24, 2015

Group at UW shows how to account for nature’s benefits in decisions

Planting mangroves for coastal protection in Placencia, Belize.

The Natural Capital Project, with offices at UW, wants to integrate the socioeconomic, cultural and spiritual values of nature into all major decisions affecting the environment and human well-being.

April 7, 2015

Common birds bring economic vitality to cities, new study finds

House finch

A new study finds the economic value of enjoying urban birds to be $120 million each year for Seattle residents and $70 million for people living in Berlin. Residents in both cities spend more than the average U.S. adult on bird-supporting activities, which then benefit the local economies as residents invest in bird food and conservation.

November 25, 2014

‘Subirdia’ author urges appreciation of birds that co-exist where we work, live, play

Drawing of back of bird as it looks over buildings

Surprisingly, the diversity of birds in suburban areas can be greater than in forested areas, according to John Marzluff’s new book “Welcome to Subirdia.”

November 17, 2014

‘Probiotics’ for plants boost detox abilities; untreated plants overdose and die

Two women and willow cutting in lab

Scientists using a microbe that occurs naturally in eastern cottonwood trees have boosted the ability of willow and lawn grass to withstand the withering effects of the nasty industrial pollutant phenanthrene.

August 8, 2014

David Briggs remembrance Aug. 17 at UW

Head shot of David Briggs

David Briggs, professor emeritus of environmental and forest sciences, will be remembered Sunday, Aug. 17 at the University of Washington Club.

May 27, 2014

UW students, neighbors join forces down on the Union Bay ‘bayou’

Woman kneels by two-foot tall willow branches

Swamp once site of historic Yesler sawmill being restored with UW student and neighborhood help.

May 1, 2014

Amphibians in a vise: Climate change robs frogs, salamanders of refuge

Frogs head shows above surface of the water

Amphibians in the West’s high-mountain areas find themselves caught between climate-induced habitat loss and predation from introduced fish. A novel combination of tools could help weigh where amphibians are in the most need of help.

April 23, 2014

Academy of arts and sciences inducting Franklin, Fine

Drumheller Fountain and Gerberding Hall on the UW campus.

Jerry Franklin and Arthur Fine have been elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

February 14, 2014

UW helps protect $30 million to $40 million in U.S. wood exports to Japan

Ends of logs in a row

A recently introduced homebuilding subsidy program in Japan put logs and lumber imported from the U.S. and other countries at a competitive disadvantage.

January 9, 2014

Big is not bad: Scientists call for preservation of large carnivores

Gray wolf in forest

Despite their scary reputation, carnivores deserve credit for all kinds of ecological services when they eat grazing animals that gobble down young trees and other vegetation that could be holding carbon and protecting streams.

November 8, 2013

Forest fires and fireside chats: UW students learn about management challenges

Students uses hand lens to examine moss on rock

An intensive two week field course helped 20 University of Washington students learn firsthand about the challenges of managing dry, fire-prone forests of the Pacific Northwest.

November 6, 2013

Floods didn’t provide nitrogen ‘fix’ for earliest crops in frigid north

Trees, sediments in floodplain

Floods didn’t make floodplains fertile during the dawn of human agriculture in the Earth’s far north. Turns out early human inhabitants can mainly thank cyanobacteria. It raises the question of whether modern farmers might reduce fertilizer use by taking advantage of cyanobacteria that occur, not just in the floodplains studied, but in soils around the world.

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