Articles (in reverse chronological order)

Urbanization effects on local birds

While the economic recession of 2008 resulted in a significant slowdown in new housing developments in southwestern North Carolina, it presented a unique research opportunity for LTER researchers Camille Beasley and Dr. Jeff Hepinstall-Cymerman of the University of Georgia to study birds and urbanization in the region.

Transformative Science at the LTER

One of the main reasons the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP) began writing our regular column was that it was made clear to us that community members did not have a good sense of what the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research Project has accomplished since it started in 1980. In this column, we want to take the opportunity to mention, in a straightforward way, the sorts of “transformative” science that has been accomplished over the decades within your community.

Daniel Reategui and Citizen Science

Over the years, science has changed from the experiments of curious tinkerers in their home-based labs and in isolated field sites to include the full-time work of large teams in million-dollar facilities and extensive field station activities. This transition to Big Science has brought impressive innovations, but it also makes science more distant from people’s everyday lives and experiences, sometimes even ignoring important local knowledge. But a new wave of scientists is trying to rebuild that connection by involving residents in conducting scientific research.

Science of, by and for the people

Everybody knows the stereotypes: scientists so awkward they can’t look you in the eye, so focused on the secret lives of microbes that they can no longer talk with people about everyday issues. But what happens when research might help land-owners and local government officials make better decisions? Or when non-scientists have knowledge that can help scientists ask better questions or under-stand their findings in new ways?

Water, water everywhere--Is climate change to blame?

It’s no secret that this has been a wet year. In fact, after record January and July rainfalls, the U.S. Forest Service’s Coweeta Hydrologic Lab is approaching its annual average already, at the end of July! Is all of this rain evidence of climate change?

The fate of the Southern Appalachian salamanders

Whether you once caught salamanders as a child, used them for bait, or have never seen one, salamanders are reclusive yet an important part of the natural heritage of the Southern Appalachians. More salamander species exist here than anywhere else in the world and researchers are still discovering new species. Over 50 species of red, green, gold, and intricately patterned salamanders live exclusively in the Western North Carolina Mountains.

Coweeta Aquatic Camp

Thanks to a partnership between Macon County Schools, the USDA Forest Service, the University of Georgia, and the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, 30 area youth recently enjoyed a week-long summer camp geared toward integrating regional scientific knowledge, professional skills, and the arts.

What powers these mountains?

When we talk with community members about exurban growth and the environment, we generally think of the local impacts of roads, housing developments, strip malls, and floodplain development. But what about the less visible impacts of exurban growth and the effects that we don’t experience right here in Macon County? For this column, we want to use the energy that powers this community as a way of thinking through these long-distance connections.

What would fire ants mean in our region?

As we’ve learned from the Chestnut blight and the hemlock woolly adelgid, invasive species can have a huge impact on our forests. So when an observant gardener recently told us that fire ants seem to be moving out of the Piedmont and into the mountains, we were all ears. Although no Coweeta LTER researchers are currently studying fire ants, we decided to look into this invasion in more detail.

Exurbanization and Landslides

The Coweeta Hydrologic Lab and the Coweeta LTER draw on the knowledge of scientists from a variety of disciplines, including geography, ecology, anthropology and forestry. One benefit of this multi-disciplinary approach is that it allows for the identification of trends and processes happening simultaneously, that might otherwise only be considered separately. For Macon County and southern Appalachia, two of these trends are exurbanization and climate change.