After drought, ponds “keep up with the Joneses”

WUSTL senior Ruth Poland and Jonathan Chase, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of WUSTL’s Tyson Research Center, check species out in one of Tyson’s ponds.An ecologist at Washington University in St. Louis has discovered that after ponds dry up through drought in a region, when they revive, the community of species in each pond tends to be very similar to one another in species composition.

Caves of St. Louis County in trouble

Caves are in trouble, at least in St. Louis County, Missouri, says Robert Criss, Ph.D., professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, co-author of a scholarly paper that documents, archives and describes the status of all the known 127 caves found in the 508 square mile county.

Improperly stored or used chemicals can have fatal consequences

Bottles without original labels pose risk.With spring comes cleaning — the house, the yard, the basement and the car. And with cleaning comes potential hazards. People use them every day, but if common cleaners and pesticides are stored or applied incorrectly, they can have fatal consequences, say experts in environmental safety and emergency medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. More…

Caves threatened by County development

Courtesy PhotoA scholarly paper on the status of the 127 known caves in the 508-square-mile county shows developers are discarding the formations with impunity, says co-author Robert E. Criss, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences.

Fish in ponds benefit flowering plants

Fish in ponds can be a flowering plant’s best friend, according to WUSTL ecologists.Fish and flowering plants would seem to have as much in common as pigs and beauty soap. But ecologists at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Florida have found an amazing relationship between the different species that provides a new direction for understanding how ecosystems “hook up.” A team of researchers, headed by Tiffany Knight, Ph.D., Washington University assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, has shown a correlation between the presence of fish in ponds and well-pollinated St. John’s wort (Hypericum fasciculatum, Hypericaceae) at a Florida research station.

Study probes ecosystem of tree holes

It’s a bug-eat-bug world found in this seemingly innocuous, surprisingly revealing, ecosystem.If you think your place is a dump, try living in a tree hole: a dark flooded crevice with years of accumulated decomposing leaves and bugs, infested with bacteria, other microbes, and crawling with insect larvae. A biologist at Washington University in St. Louis has studied the ecosystem of the tree hole and the impact that three factors — predation, resources and disturbance — have on species diversity.