The area known to practically every Washingtonian as “the Palouse” is one of six large grassland communities in North America. The Palouse stretches from just south of Spokane to the Snake River valley, near Moscow and Pullman. Today, it is a fertile farmland, covered in wheat and other grain crops. But prior to the 1870s and the arrival of “new-world” settlers, these rolling hills were blanketed in perennial bunchgrasses and forbs, which had dominated the landscape for five million years. Those native plants are now found only in tiny pockets around old cemeteries, along creeks, and in other unplowable places.
Vultures in India and Pakistan play a vital environmental role by quickly removing dead livestock, inactivating pathogens, and probably controlling the spread of livestock disease. Vultures are also essential to the “sky burials” practiced by Zoroastrian sects. So the sudden and precipitous decline in vulture population caused great consternation throughout the subcontinent.
Over the past decade, the population of the Oriental white-backed vulture has declined by more than 95 percent. Other vulture species have experienced similar catastrophic declines. When Washington State University veterinary diagnostician Lindsay Oaks arrived in Pakistan in 2000 to investigate the mysterious deaths, he selected for study three colonies of perhaps 1,000 … » More …
Soap Lake is surrounded by dark shores, sheer rock walls, a primeval
landscape. Its waters have long been thought by some to cure certain
maladies. It is also home to strange, hardy organisms that live nowhere
else. » More ...
Willapa Bay is the largest estuary between San Francisco and Puget
Sound. It boasts one of the least-spoiled environments and the
healthiest salmon runs south of Canada. It produces one in every four
oysters farmed in the United States and is a favorite stop for tens of
thousands of migratory birds. And it's in trouble. » More ...
Magpie Forest is like something out of the Wizard of Oz, a strange green land in the middle of a field.
Nestled in a 33-acre parcel of wheat north of Pullman, the 14-acre tract is a remnant of the original Palouse prairie. Last spring, Washington State University purchased the property from a local landowner to protect it from being developed.
Accessible only through a network of game trails, the spot is covered with hawthorn thickets, quaking aspen, mountain ash, and native shrubs, grasses, and flowering plants. The University hopes to upgrade these trails and encourage people to visit the property. Plans for an access road … » More …
It is impossible to accept the immensity of Mount St. Helens and the
effect of its catastrophic 1980 eruption unless you are able to stand
beneath the enormous crater on the pumice plain and listen to John
Bishop talk about lupines. » More ...
When I was completing my last semester at WSU 10 years ago, I never imagined I would end up in Antarctica, providing computer network support for the U.S. Antarctic Program. I work on the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer (NBP), an icebreaker that is contracted by the National Science Foundation for scientific research in Antarctica. The ship spends several months a year in the waters and sea ice surrounding the world’s coldest, driest, and most remote continent.
I am currently working on a science cruise called SHALDRIL-Shallow Drilling Along the Antarctic Continental Margin. Core drilling from a single, unassisted icebreaker has never been done before in … » More …