10 search results for "poulos"

Poulos Studies Endangered Grass on Texas-Mexico Border

Pictured third from right, Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, gathers with the “Fescue Rescue” team at Maderas del Carmen Protected Area in Mexico. There, the scientists are studying Guadalupe fescue, an endangered grass species.

field sites in the Sierra del Carmens, Coahila Mexico

Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, works at a field site in the Sierra del Carmens, Coahuila Mexico. In September 2017, the U.S. government determined that Festuca ligulata needed protected species status and designated it a critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

The rare Guadalupe fescue once thrived in abundance atop mountains spanning the Texas-Mexico border, however, the desert-growing perennial grass is now so endangered, it only flourishes in two locations on Earth.

The rapid population decline is leaving scientists puzzled.

“Developing an effective recovery plan is essential for protecting Guadalupe fescue, however, the lack of basic information about this species’ ecology is a serious barrier to that goal,” explained Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies. “Urgent action is needed to stabilize the two extant populations.”

This summer, under Poulos’s leadership, Wesleyan received a National Park Service Grant to study Festuca ligulata through the Southwest Borderlands Resource Protection Program. She joined a bi-national team of scientists known as “Fescue Rescue” to research the two isolated fescue populations in Texas’s Big Bend National Park and the Maderas del Carmen Protected Area in Coahuila, Mexico.

Said Poulos, a plant ecologist who has worked at desert borderland sites for more than a decade, “The Guadalupe fescue has become so endangered that this has become a significant national and international conservation concern.”

Backed by the NPS grant, the Fescue Rescue team will conduct onsite visits from October to mid-November 2019 during Guadalupe fescue seed maturation. Seeds will be collected during this time and transported to labs at Sul Ross State University in Texas and Universidad Autónoma Antonio Narro in Mexico. At these locations, scientists will germinate the seeds and grow their own fescue refugial populations for multiple research purposes.

“Together, they’ll provide a springboard for future plant population genetics, enrichment planting, and adaptive management research on both sides of the border,” Poulos said. “Such information is vital for elaborating site-specific management plans for the species on both U.S. and Mexican soils.”

They’ll study environmental variables, inventory seed production, identify key factors that promote reproductive viability, and ultimately establish refugial populations on both sides of the border.

Although virtually nothing is known about the environmental influences on the growth and reproduction of Guadalupe fescue, Poulos believes the fescue’s population decline is a result of multiple factors.

“Environmental factors that have likely negatively influenced the fescue populations include a recent shift to a hotter and drier climate, the genetic and demographic consequences of small population sizes and isolation, trampling by humans and pack animals, trail runoff, competition from invasive species, and fungal infection of seeds,” she said.

In addition, naturally occurring wildfires, which play an important role in rejuvenating ecosystems, are rare due to livestock grazing in the early 1900s and subsequent direct fire suppression continuing to the present. The remaining plants in the two disjunct populations are likely highly inbred and lack genetic diversity. This can threaten the capacity of populations to resist pathogens and parasites, adapt to changing environmental conditions, and colonize new habitats.

Poulos hopes to deliver her final reports to the National Park Service by summer 2020.

Researchers Explore the Effects of Dam Removal on Bottom-Dwelling Aquatic Animals

COE

Kate Miller PhD ’13

Although dam removal is an increasingly common stream restoration tool, it may also represent a major disturbance to rivers that can have varied impacts on environmental conditions and aquatic biota.

In a paper titled “Dam Removal Effects on Benthic Macroinvertebrate Dynamics: A New England Stream Case Study, five researchers from Wesleyan examined the effects of dam removal on the structure, function, and composition of benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) communities in a temperate New England stream. The benthic—or “bottom-dwelling”—macroinvertebrates are small aquatic animals that are commonly used to study biological conditions of water bodies.

The paper is published in the May 21 edition of Sustainability, an international, cross-disciplinary, scholarly, peer-reviewed and open-access journal of environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability of human beings.

Ross Heinemann '09, MA '13

Ross Heinemann ’09, MA ’13

The paper’s coauthors include Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies; Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies; Kate Miller PhD ’13; Ross Heinemann ’09, MA ’13; Michelle Kraczkowski PhD ’13; and Adam Whelchel from the Nature Conservancy in New Haven, Conn.

The results of their study indicated that the dam removal stimulated major shifts in BMI community structure and composition above and below the dam.

“Our research shows that the effects of dam removal on the river were not predictable. During the fours years of the study after dam removal, the river did not return to its original state in the areas where the dam was removed,” Chernoff explained.

Poulos, Students Collaborate on 2 Publications

Helen PoulosHelen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two published papers in February.

Response of Arizona cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica) to the Horseshoe Two Megafire in a south-eastern Arizona Sky Island mountain range,” is published in the February issue of International Journal of Wildland Fire (Issue 28, pages 62-69). It is coauthored by Andrew Barton, professor of biology at the University of Maine at Farmington.

This study documents the effects of the 2011 Horseshoe Two Fire in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona on Arizona Cypress. Two Wesleyan students, Hunter Vannier ’20 and Michael Freiburger ’21 assisted with the fieldwork in 2018 as part of their College of the Environment summer fellowships.

The group documented the effects of a fire-sensitive tree species that survives wildfire through fire-induced seed release (serotiny). On sites subject to severe fire, most mature cypresses were killed, the canopy opened, and seedlings established abundantly. Their results firmly establish Arizona cypress as a fire-sensitive but fire-embracing species that depends on stand-replacing fire (the loss of overstory trees) for regeneration.

“A drier future with more frequent wildfires could pose serious threats to all New World cypresses if these species do not have enough time between fire events to reach sexual maturity,” Poulos explained.

The second paper, titled “Invasive species and carbon flux: the case of invasive beavers (Castor canadensis) in riparian Nothofagus forests of Tierra del Fuego, Chile” was published in the February issue of Climatic Change. It is coauthored by biology major Chloe Papier ’17 and Alejandro Kusch of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Punta Arenas, Chile.

For this study, Papier completed a month of fieldwork in Patagonia on a College of the Environment winter fellowship.

The researchers documented the effects of invasive North American beavers (Castor canadensis) on carbon sequestration of riparian Nothofagus forests in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Their results suggest that beaver invasion can result in major differences between aboveground carbon in invaded versus un-invaded forest stands.

Gary Yohe, professor of economics; the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies; and professor, environmental studies; serves as the coeditor in chief of the journal.

Poulos Authors Papers on Managing Ecological Fire Risks, Recovery Strategies

Helen PoulosHelen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two papers published Oct. 22 in the journals Fire and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, respectively.

Poulos lead-authored a paper on fire and plant evolutionary ecology titled, “Do Mixed Fire Regimes Shape Plant Flammability and Post-Fire Recovery Strategies?” Contrary to a new model assuming that plant species have evolved three divergent flammability strategies, Poulos and her fellow researchers present three case studies that indicate plant species have evolved “bet-hedging strategies” that mix a variety of flammability and post-fire recovery strategies.

Poulos also co-authored a paper led by ecologist Christopher Johnson of the University of Tasmania titled, “Can trophic rewilding reduce the impact of fire in a more flammable world?” This paper is about managing fire risk by reintroducing large mammals and has received a lot of buzz, including a nod in Science.

“Working with a group of international scientists has really helped me in terms of thinking about global issues associated with fire, and also how humans can work together to create more sustainable landscapes,” Poulos said.

“Facing Disasters” Explored in Multidisciplinary Performance

Eiko Otake, Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment, performs during “Facing Disasters” March 2 in Memorial Chapel.

On March 2, the College of the Environment Think Tank presented a multidisciplinary performance titled, “Facing Disasters: Disturbing the Human-Environment Relationship” in Memorial Chapel and Zelnick Pavillion.

COE fellows and members of the Wesleyan community explored ideas of facing disasters and motivating action by presenting multiple works that engaged with the 2017–18 Think Tank theme “From Disruptions to Disasters.”

Presenters included Vaishvi Jhaveri ’18; Paula Tartell ’18, Shingo Umehara ’18 Nora Thompson ’15 and Ostin Pham ’17.

Other participants were Katja Kolcio, associate professor of dance, associate professor of environmental studies and associate professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies; William Johnston, professor of history, professor of East Asian studies, professor of science in society, and professor of environmental studies; Ronald Ebrecht, artist-in-residence, music; Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences; Marguerite Nguyen, assistant professor of English, assistant professor of East Asian studies; Eiko Otake, Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment; and Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies.

Poulos Studies Changing Perceptions of Whales Aboard World’s Last Wooden Whaling Ship

Helen Poulos climbs the rigging aboard the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship in existence.

Helen Poulos climbs the rigging aboard the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship in existence.

On June 15, Helen Poulos, a postdoctoral fellow in the College of the Environment, set sail aboard the Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining wooden whaling ship in the world. Built and launched in 1841, the Morgan embarked on 37 voyages up until 1921, roaming every corner of the globe in pursuit of whales. She had been docked at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut since 1940, and underwent major restoration work in recent years. This month, she took one final commemorative voyage in order to call attention to the importance of historic ships and America’s maritime heritage, as well as raise awareness about changing perceptions of whales and whaling.

Helen Poulos

Helen Poulos

Poulos is one of 79 individuals—including artists, historians, scientists, journalists, teachers, musicians, scholars and whaling descendants—selected to take part in this unprecedented public history project. Together, the group will produce a creative work for the Mystic Seaport to share online, and through exhibits, publications and public programs. On nine different legs of the journey, they will work alongside staff from the Mystic Seaport museum to “examine every aspect of the journey, and to better understand the past experiences of those who sailed this ship and others like her,” according to the project’s website. The ship will stop in a number of historic ports in New England, including Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown and Boston. The journey wraps up August 9 with a homecoming celebration at Mystic Seaport.

High School Students May Enroll in New Pre-College Study Program

Eric Charry, associate professor of music, will teach the online course, History of Rock and R&B, as part of Wesleyan's new Pre-College Study program.

Eric Charry, associate professor of music, will teach the online course, History of Rock and R&B, as part of Wesleyan’s new Pre-College Study program.

This summer, high-achieving high school students from around the world will have the opportunity to delve into the Wesleyan experience by enrolling in online courses.

Wesleyan’s Office of Continuing Studies will launch a pilot project offering non-credit online courses featuring some of Wesleyan’s areas of strength such as psychology, creative writing, environmental studies, and music as part of the new Pre-College Study program.

“These subject areas are in high demand, but difficult for many high school students to find,” said Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “These online courses, characterized by small class size and personal interaction between faculty and students, will recreate some of the seminar feeling that is a hallmark of Wesleyan.”

The four initial courses are:

History of Rock and R&B, taught by Eric Charry, professor of music; Environmental Studies, taught by Helen Poulos, postdoctoral teaching fellow in environmental studies; Topics in Psychology, taught by Noel Garrett, visiting lecturer in Graduate Liberal Studies;

Researchers: Thin Out Trees to Avoid Fire Dangers

A piece in The Economist cites an OpEd by two members of the College of the Environment’s think tank that advocates thinning forests on federal lands to increase water supply and reduce wild fire hazards. In their original Los Angeles Times piece, Helen Poulos, postdoctoral teaching fellow, Mellon Environmental Studies Program, and James Workman, visiting professor of environmental studies, argued that the practice of simply letting nature take its course in federal forests has led to disastrous trends of massive wild fires and sapping of precious water resources.

Save the Trees Kills the Rivers? Maybe

In an OpEd for The Los Angeles Times, Helen M. Poulos, a postdoctoral teaching fellow, Mellon Environmental Studies Program, and Jamie Workman, visiting professor of environmental studies, examine whether the extending of federal protection to so many millions of forested land inadvertently harmed our long-term water resources.

COE’s Think Tank Discusses Human’s Relationship to Water

Members of the College of the Environment’s 2011-12 Think Tank gather every Wednesday to discuss ways in which the human relationship to water, as both resource and environment, has changed over the long term. The Think Tank is a group of Wesleyan faculty, scholars and students who produce scholarly works that will influence national/international thinking. Pictured, from left to right are faculty members Joop Varekamp; Clark Maines, William Pinch and Elise Springer.