Fall 2021


Photo by UW–Madison Water Sustainability and Climate Project


A Safe Water Future Requires Action Today

Ph.D. student Tracy Campbell MS’18 recently led an assessment of water quality goals for the Yahara River watershed using a modeling tool developed in the Department of Agronomy. The results: Phosphorous levels in waterways will keep rising if business as usual continues. However, phosphorous and nitrate levels could be reduced by 50% if fertilizer application is also reduced by 50% and grassland cover is increased by 50%. Under the most likely future climate scenario, these practices could yield water quality improvements in 50 years.

Bees Need Crop Diversity

Bumble bees are vital pollinators for native plants and many food crops. But, according to a research team including Jeremy Hemberger BS’12, PhD’20 and entomology professor Claudio Gratton, most native bumble bee species became rarer in Midwestern states as crop diversity declined over the last 150 years. A wider range of crops could help bumble bees thrive.

Tough Talks About Tech

Public understanding and acceptance of controversial technologies, such as human genome editing, won’t come through one-way communication. Instead, it will take collaborative efforts and thoughtful conversations tailored to people’s values, according to a paper published by life sciences communication professors Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele and graduate student Nicole Krause.

Birds of a Feather Flock North

Over the last several decades, North American bird species have slowly moved northward, and recurring winter heat waves could speed up this geographic movement. And without time to gradually adapt, some birds may be more vulnerable to extremes. This is just one intriguing finding from a recent study, conducted by forest and wildlife ecology professor Ben Zuckerberg and his colleagues, that uses massive amounts of citizen science data and machine learning.

Deer Crossing Decline

When wolves come prowling, deer movements change, and herds thin out. This translated into a 24% drop in deer-vehicle collisions in certain areas of Wisconsin, according to a study co-authored by agricultural and applied economics professor Dominic Parker. One benefit: Crash reductions can yield cost savings.

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