UW News

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences


April 16, 2020

Dose of nature at home could help mental health, well-being during COVID-19

In light of stay-at-home orders, University of Washington researchers say studies show there is much to be gained from nature close to home, whether in a yard, on neighborhood walks or even indoors.


‘Hands-on’ classes online? How some instructors are adapting to a new teaching environment

A postal service box with lab materials inside

When the UW announced it was moving its spring quarter 2020 classes entirely online to combat the novel coronavirus, instructors across campus faced a new, uncharted challenge.


April 8, 2020

ArtSci Roundup: Lecture with IVA Professor Whitney Lynn, In Plain Sight Screening, Childhood Bilingualism Talk, and more

collage of various art works and portraits

During this time of uncertainty and isolation, find solace in digital opportunities to connect, share, and engage. Each week, we will share upcoming events that bring the UW, and greater community, together online.  Many of these online opportunities are streamed through Zoom. All UW faculty, staff, and students have access to Zoom Pro via UW-IT.  Earth Day…


April 1, 2020

Study synthesizes what climate change means for Northwest wildfires

bare trunks

A University of Washington study, published this winter in Fire Ecology, takes a big-picture look at what climate change could mean for wildfires in the Northwest, considering Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.


March 18, 2020

‘Fatal attraction’: Small carnivores drawn to kill sites, then ambushed by larger kin

cougar on wildlife camera

University of Washington researchers have discovered that large predators play a key yet unexpected role in keeping smaller predators and deer in check. Their “fatal attraction” theory finds that smaller predators are drawn to the kill sites of large predators by the promise of leftover scraps, but the scavengers may be killed themselves if their larger kin return for seconds.


March 5, 2020

Visitors should avoid coming to UW campus to see cherry blossoms amid COVID-19 outbreak

blossoms up close

The University is asking people to avoid coming to campus this year to comply with Gov. Inslee’s March 11 proclamation that prohibits large gatherings of more than 250 people as our region combats the spread of COVID-19.


February 27, 2020

Thinning, prescribed burns protected forests during the massive Carlton Complex wildfire

treated forest

In the first major study following the devastating Carlton Complex fire in north central Washington, researchers from the University of Washington and U.S. Forest Service found that previous tree thinning and prescribed burns helped forests survive the fire.


February 26, 2020

Wildness in urban parks important for human well-being

beach in seattle

A new University of Washington study has found that not all forms of nature are created equal when considering benefits to people’s well-being. Experiencing wildness, specifically, is particularly important for physical and mental health.


January 28, 2020

Rethinking land conservation to protect species that will need to move with climate change

high alpine landscape in washington state

Researchers from the UW and Evergreen found that many species of animals and plants likely will need to migrate under climate change, and that conservation efforts will also need to shift to be effective.


December 4, 2019

Better wildfire and smoke predictions with new vegetation database

ponderosa pine forest

Researchers from the University of Washington and Michigan Technological University have created the first comprehensive database of all the wildfire fuels that have been measured across North America. Ultimately, it can help scientists make more informed decisions about fire and smoke situations.


October 17, 2019

Old friends and new enemies: How evolutionary history can predict insect invader impacts

Dead trees

A team led by the University of Washington has developed a way to help foresters predict which nonnative insect invasions will be problematic, and help managers decide where to allocate resources to avoid widespread tree death.


August 23, 2019

Wildfires west of the Cascades: Rare, but large and severe

More than 99 percent of wildfires in the last 40 years have been east of the Cascade Crest. But evidence that suggests Western Washington also has a history of large wildfires, each burning hundreds of thousands of acres. We might not be familiar with them, because most happened centuries ago.


August 21, 2019

3 UW graduate students earn NASA fellowships, continue legacy of success

rainier vista

Three University of Washington graduate students are among this year’s recipients of a prestigious NASA fellowship that funds student research projects in the fields of Earth and planetary sciences and astrophysics.


July 24, 2019

How to consider nature’s impact on mental health in city plans

two children in park

An international team led by the UW and Stanford has created a framework for how city planners and municipalities around the world can start to measure the mental health benefits of nature and incorporate those into plans and policies for cities and their residents.


July 9, 2019

UW professors to receive 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Six University of Washington professors are to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, according to an announcement July 2 from the White House. The award, also known as the PECASE, is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to early-career scientists and engineers “who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.”


April 1, 2019

UW students spearhead efforts to predict peak bloom for cherry trees

collecting data

A team of UW students hopes to make it possible to accurately predict peak bloom timing for the iconic Quad cherry trees.


March 26, 2019

New tool maps a key food source for grizzly bears: huckleberries

huckleberry leaves turning red

Researchers have developed a new approach to map huckleberry distribution across Glacier National Park that uses publicly available satellite imagery. Tracking where huckleberry plants live now — and where they may move under climate change — can help biologists predict where grizzly bears will also be found.


February 27, 2019

Return of the wolves: How deer escape tactics help save their lives

two gray wolves

As gray wolves return to eastern Washington, a new study finds that one species of deer is changing its behavior to spend more time away from roads, at higher elevations and in rockier landscapes.


February 11, 2019

Many Arctic lakes give off less carbon than expected

lakes in yukon flats

New research by the University of Washington and U.S. Geological Survey suggests many lakes pose little threat to global carbon levels, at least for now.


November 29, 2018

Forests, human health, Northwest outlook: UW researchers involved in Fourth National Climate Assessment

cover of Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II showing wildfires

University of Washington researchers contributed to the Fourth National Climate Assessment that considers impacts, risks and adaptation across the United States.


November 8, 2018

Common allergen, ragweed, will shift northward under climate change

ragweed against blue sky

The first study of common ragweed’s future U.S. distribution finds the top allergen will expand its range northward as the climate warms, reaching new parts of upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, while retreating from current hot spots.


November 2, 2018

Racial, ethnic minorities face greater vulnerability to wildfires

firefighting in oregon 2018

Massive wildfires, which may be getting more intense due to climate change and a long history of fire-suppression policies, have strikingly unequal effects on minority communities, a new study shows.


October 24, 2018

A dose of nature: New UW initiative to spearhead research on health benefits of time outside

A new University of Washington initiative seeks to advance research on the health benefits of time spent in nature, connecting academic researchers with pediatricians, childcare providers, mental health practitioners and others who work with various populations on critical health issues.


August 20, 2018

California plain shows surprising winners and losers from prolonged drought

wildflowers on hill

Meticulously tracking of 423 species before, during and after the worst droughts to hit California in more than a thousand years shows surprising patterns. Key prey species plummeted in the third year of the drought, and carnivores were hardest hit in later years.


August 13, 2018

UW forest biologist on wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, California

firefighting in oregon 2018

Forest biologist and University of Washington professor David Peterson explains which natural materials burn hotter and faster during a wildfire, what homeowners can do to protect their properties and how climate change is impacting the fire season.


August 1, 2018

Harmful dyes in lakes, rivers can become colorless with new, sponge-like material

the dye starts to become clear

A team led by the University of Washington has created an environmentally friendly way to remove color from dyes in water in a matter of seconds.


May 25, 2018

Broccoli in space: How probiotics could help grow veggies in microgravity

broccoli going to space.

Astronauts at the International Space Station are spending more time away from Earth, but they still need their daily serving of vegetables. In the quest to find a viable way for crew to grow their own veggies while orbiting — and possibly one day on the moon or Mars — student researchers are sending broccoli…


April 3, 2018

New arboretum trail daylights creek, gives greater access to wetlands

bridge with walker

A new trail that winds through Washington Park Arboretum is bringing to focus plants previously hidden and a stream that used to be underground in pipes and culverts. The UW together with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Arboretum Foundation on Sunday, April 8 will celebrate the trail opening with festivities along the path.


March 2, 2018

Two species of ravens nevermore? New research finds evidence of ‘speciation reversal’

raven

A new study almost 20 years in the making provides some of the strongest evidence yet of the “speciation reversal” phenomenon in two lineages of common ravens.


December 13, 2017

UW project seeks sustainable blueprint for hydropower dams

children fishing

A new NSF-funded project will use findings in the Mekong River basin as an example of how three critical issues — feeding people, generating energy and maintaining functioning ecosystems — can be addressed thoughtfully and progressively in the developing world.


November 15, 2017

Are petite poplars the future of biofuels? UW studies say yes

small poplars

A University of Washington team is trying to make poplar a viable competitor in the biofuels market by testing the production of younger poplar trees that could be harvested more frequently — after only two or three years — instead of the usual 10- to 20-year cycle.


November 6, 2017

‘Smart’ paper can conduct electricity, detect water

A University of Washington team wants to simplify the process for discovering detrimental water leaks by developing “smart” paper that can sense the presence of water.


October 4, 2017

Study points to win-win for spotted owls and forest management

spotted owls

A new study has found that cover in tall trees is the key habitat requirement for the spotted owl, not total canopy cover. It indicated that spotted owls largely avoid cover created by stands of shorter trees.


August 31, 2017

Q&A: How Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Yellowstone National Park are confronting climate change

barn with mountains in the back

A new book focuses on climate change risks in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and how managers of public lands can prepare.


August 14, 2017

Probiotics help poplar trees clean up Superfund sites

trees in field

Researchers from the University of Washington and several small companies have conducted the first large-scale experiment on a Superfund site using poplar trees fortified with a probiotic — or natural microbe — to clean up groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, or TCE.


May 23, 2017

Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations

gray wolf

Wolves and other top predators need large ranges to be able to control smaller predators whose populations have expanded to the detriment of a balanced ecosystem, a new study in Nature Communications finds.


May 1, 2017

Researchers find more efficient way to make oil from dead trees

A forest with beetle-killed trees from Mt. Fraser, British Columbia.

A University of Washington team has made new headway on a solution to remove beetle-killed trees from the forest and use them to make renewable transportation fuels or high-value chemicals. The researchers have refined this technique to process larger pieces of wood than ever before ― saving time and money in future commercial applications.


February 22, 2017

Large-scale experiment on the rural Olympic Peninsula to test innovations in forest management

stream

Scientists at the University of Washington and the state Department of Natural Resources intend to test a management approach that mimics natural disturbance patterns and processes across a large portion of the Olympic Peninsula, an area known for having the most rainfall in the lower 48 states, high tree-growth rates and old-growth forests, part of which remain today.


January 3, 2017

Songbirds divorce, flee, fail to reproduce due to suburban sprawl

Dark-eyed junco, an "exploiter" species.

New research finds that for some songbirds, urban sprawl is kicking them out of their territory, forcing divorce and stunting their ability to find new mates and reproduce successfully, even after relocating.


University of Washington-led study shows new global evidence of the role of humans, urbanization in rapid evolution

A new multi-institution study led by the UW shows more clearly than ever that urbanization is affecting the genetic makeup of species that are crucial to ecosystem health and success.



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