Robin Eating Worm
  • vertical farm

    Vertical Farming - Could WSU Feed the City of Pullman?

  • Vertical Farming: Part 2

    Is it possible to reduce the ecological footprint of cities by building large, stacked greenhouses for food production? Architects, engineers, and ecologists debate the possibilities for producing more food directly in cities using vertical farms. See what WSU researchers and greenhouse experts have to say about the vertical farming concept.

Lost Memories and Empty Forests: The Passenger Pigeon

  How can we miss a memory we’ve never had? A sound or touch never experienced? Might we miss a vision never once reflected in our eyes? Though no living being remembers, the passenger pigeon will not fade from memory to myth as we have the writings of early explorers and the first naturalists, as … Continue reading

War montage reduced

Battling Environmental Depression: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene

Battling Environmental Depression: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene   Many of my university students confess to feeling emotionally overwhelmed, pessimistic, even depressed, when the raw “facts of life” are revealed during our studies of the global environment. But they’re adults, so I don’t sugarcoat the condition of the natural world and future prospects for conserving the … Continue reading

Dodo head

Dodos, Dimwits, and Fat Arses

    Dodos, Dimwits, and Fat Arses   Ever wonder about the knee caps of extinct dodos (Raphus cucullatus)? Thought not. Fortunately for us, the chronically curious make amazing scientific discoveries that challenge our preconceptions about animal extinctions (e.g., the weak, the dim witted, the poorly adapted, the inevitably doomed, etc.). Dodos are back in … Continue reading

Night of the Living Dead

Zombie Science

  Zombie Science   A Citizen’s Guide to Conserving the Living Dead   I’m busy and don’t pay attention to pop culture, especially now that the house is empty of teenagers. So I don’t know that much about the current zombie craze. They seem to be everywhere in movies, television, and commercials. However, as a scientist, … Continue reading

WSU Arboretum Fall Report 2011

Arboretum & Wildlife Center Fall Report 2011

Activities of students and volunteers working in the WSU Arboretum & Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) are highlighted in the Fall Report 2011.  This report illustrates and describes fieldwork and development projects on the AWCC, including the new citizen science project on pollinators in Palouse Prairie that was prototyped by students during the fall. NOTE: The … Continue reading

Honeybee at entrance to hive.

Bees in January

What do honey bees do in January in eastern Washington?  Why, they come out and fly around, of course! At least they might if the weather is as warm as its been on the Palouse Prairie and the campus of Washington State University through early winter. One day in early January, while stopping to take … Continue reading

Robin Eating Worm

Are Worms Natural? The Global Worming Debate

To be more specific, are earthworms natural?  For the chronically busy and distracted, the short answer to that question is – absolutely not!  Earthworms are not natural!  Not even a little bit!  At least they’re not natural if they’re non-native, introduced earthworms that are devouring the forest floor and radically changing the ecology of some … Continue reading

Cooper's Hawk head

A Natural Education at WSU

I just witnessed a race to survive on campus – quite literally.  And the winner managed, but ever so barely, to survive.  That’s what I call reality – and it’s certainly not like the fake, highly contrived reality offered on television.  It makes me wonder how much natural education students miss by spending their days … Continue reading

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

How to Grow a Tortoiseshell

If you’re an ordinary tortoise, growing your shell might take you more than 150 years.  But if you’re a tortoiseshell butterfly, life goes by much more quickly than that.  It was such a cool and wet spring on Palouse Prairie in eastern Washington, that it didn’t seem like there were as many butterflies around as … Continue reading

Colchicum flowers

Fall Crocus in the Garden

It was tempting to use the title, “Naked Lady in the Garden”, to attract the attention of those who don’t ordinarily dwell much on fall flowers, but I thought perhaps it was a bit risque for a university arboretum story.  But it’s entirely true that fall crocus, meadow saffron, or naked lady, are common names … Continue reading

Bees on Sunflower

Stalking the Wild Bee

Hunting season is open in the WSU Arboretum – at least if you’re a student or visitor with a camera and are looking to carefully watch or shoot a picture of a bee or other pollinator!  Students in WSU’s class in Restoration Ecology currently are prototyping a future “Citizen Scientist” project to census bees and … Continue reading

Columbia spotted frog

Throwing the Frogs Out With the Bath Water

Say hello to our new Columbia spotted frog friend, Fred, or Fredricka, as the case may be.  We don’t know which it is yet, but we were quite surprised recently to discover this little frog sitting in our amphibian breeding pond at the Endangered Species Lab in the Wildlife Conservation Center at Washington State University. … Continue reading

Mystery Tree - Tree Quiz

Tree Quiz

For those of you who love trees, here’s a little quiz.  We discovered this three tucked away in the naturalized woodland in the WSU Arboretum & Wildlife Conservation area.  The arboretum woodland has naturalized from tree and shrub plantings that were originally made by the USDA, Pullman Plant Materials Center, starting back in the 1930s. … Continue reading

Competitive Pumpkins

Vertical Farming Part 2: Pumpkins in the Sky

  Imagine if we could grow vegetables and other crops up in tall trees. Just think of all the space we could save. Okay, maybe not. I can see some of you are thinking about pumpkins and watermelons dropping out of wind-blown tree tops, like David Letterman throwing things off of a five story building … Continue reading

tree planting

Earth Day / Arbor Day in the Arboretum

Any day that you can plant a tree that might live to be 300 – 500+ years old is a good day. And when you plant that tree on Earth Day or Arbor Day in the WSU Arboretum and Wildlife Conservation Center, it’s even better. We want to thank the members and friends of Beta … Continue reading

American Beaver

Build It and They Will Come: Beavers in the Arboretum

While driving past the WSU Arboretum today, I noticed a small 2-3 inch diameter aspen (Populus tremuloides) toppled over on the ground on the banks of our small Airport Creek that runs through the arboretum.  In a split second, the thought flashed in my head – you don’t suppose it could be the work of … Continue reading

Fritillary butterfly

The First Flutterby (…Butterfly) of the Season

I saw my first butterfly of the season today on April 9th.  It was orangish, medium size, maybe with some darker spots or patterns of some kind on the wing, moving fast – okay it’s already gone!  What was it? How in the world can I figure out what species of butterfly that might have … Continue reading


How to Save an Endangered Species

I recently had an interesting dialogue with Brian Palmer, who writes for the Green Lantern series for Slate Magazine, an online publication of the The Slate Group, a Division of the Washington Post Company.  Brian contacted me to see how I would answer a question that a reader had posed to him, “Which endangered species … Continue reading

Camas flower

Camas Flowers in the WSU Arboretum

The native camas (Camassia quamash) flower is beginning to emerge in the Arboretum, although it is not yet blooming. However, the leaves from some surplus bulbs that we planted in a garden plot in the arboretum last fall are growing vigorously already and it might not be that long until we see the central flowering … Continue reading

Swimming muskrat

Green Grass, Muskrats, and Geese

While checking on the Arboretum yesterday to see how the spring rains were treating the landscape, I came across a pair of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) grazing on new grass emerging from the seeding of a constructed area we call the Gathering Circle. The geese brought back memories of my relative youth as a budding … Continue reading