Recent Articles

Hold the Soy, Save the Pollinators

November 30, 2018By
Hold the Soy, Save the Pollinators

These are tough times for soybean farmers. As President Trump’s trade war with China drags on, retaliatory tariffs are clobbering soybean prices—and some farmers are selling their crops at a loss.

The federal government has stepped up to help: At the urging of Midwestern senators, the USDA is compensating farmers for some of their losses, shelling out $3.6 billion to soybean farmers so far. While the subsidy is appreciated, many soy farmers I’ve talked to see it as a politically motivated handout that won’t help them in the long run. They would rather work toward lasting solutions than accept a quick fix.

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Considerations for Planning and Maintaining a Pollinator & Monarch Garden

October 4, 2018By
Considerations for Planning and Maintaining a Pollinator & Monarch Garden

For the first time in North American history, the numbers of bees, bats, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators have fallen so low that there is scientific concern and public fear of a “pollinator collapse.”

Such a “food chain collapse” might not only affect the health of wild species in our parks and refuges, but also our food security derived from agricultural landscapes.

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Mexico’s natural wonders are under threat. Can a poet save them?

August 23, 2018By
Mexico’s natural wonders are under threat. Can a poet save them?

As Mexico emerges from the most violent election campaign within living memory and embarks on the presidency of Andres López Obrador, one prominent citizen watches at a diagonal: a veteran of Mexico’s other war – not that over narco-traffic and its clients in politics, but that against nature.

In a recent interview with the daily El Universal, Homero Aridjis – award-winning poet and former ambassador – described all the candidates at last June’s election as “environmental illiterates” – referring to the battle he has fought for decades now, and which he sees reaching its final stages – for Mexico’s natural and cultural heritage.

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Science put at risk along U.S.-Mexico border

August 13, 2018By
Science put at risk along U.S.-Mexico border

Off the southern coast of California, just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico, dolphins swim around the fence that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. “They don’t really care,” said Jeff Crooks, a University of San Diego scientist who has been doing research along the U.S.-Mexico border for the past 16 years.

The border fence here was built long before President Trump’s campaign promises to “build a wall.”

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Renowned monarch butterfly expert Lincoln Brower dies, but his legacy lives on

July 21, 2018By
Renowned monarch butterfly expert Lincoln Brower dies, but his legacy lives on

The Sweet Briar community was saddened to learn of the death of Lincoln Brower, a world-renowned entomologist and research professor at the College. Brower died peacefully at his home in Nelson County on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, after an extended illness.

Brower came to Sweet Briar in 1997 after retiring from the University of Florida as Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, joining his wife and research collaborator,

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All About Monarchs: The Royals of the Butterfly World

May 3, 2018By
All About Monarchs: The Royals of the Butterfly World

Monarch butterflies, which pollinate many different kinds of wildflowers, are among nature’s great wonders. Their annual migration is one of the most awe-inspiring on Earth: Each fall, millions of these striking black-and-orange butterflies take flight on a 3,000-mile journey across the U.S. and Canada to wintering grounds in Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains.

The monarch population, which is determined by measuring the number of hectares the butterflies occupy in their Mexico habitat, has declined to 2.48 hectares—almost 30 percent less than last year’s population.

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The Right Way to Remember Rachel Carson

March 26, 2018By
The Right Way to Remember Rachel Carson

The house, on an island in Maine, perches on a rock at the edge of the sea like the aerie of an eagle. Below the white-railed back porch, the sea-slick rock slopes down to a lumpy low tideland of eelgrass and bladder wrack, as slippery as a knot of snakes.

Periwinkles cling to rocks; mussels pinch themselves together like purses. A gull lands on a shaggy-weeded rock, fluffs itself, and settles into a crouch, bracing against a fierce wind rushing across the water, while, up on the cliff, lichen-covered trees—spruce and fir and birch—sigh and creak like old men on a damp morning.

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Monarch butterfly migration was off this year and researchers are worried

January 21, 2018By
Monarch butterfly migration was off this year and researchers are worried

Thanksgiving was right around the corner, and a sizable number of one of America’s most famous migrants could be seen still sputtering south. Not across the Texas-Mexico border, where most monarch butterflies should be by that time of year. These fluttered tardily through the migratory funnel that is Cape May, N.J., their iconic orange-and-black patterns splashing against the muted green of pines frosted by the season’s first chill.

This delayed migration is not normal, and it alarmed monarch researchers across the country.

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