Rolling sagebrush-covered foothills may seem like an almost commonplace symbol of the American West, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls it "one of the most imperiled ecosystems in America," threatened and fragmented by invasive species, wildfire, and development.
Loss of quality habitat has led to steep declines in the numbers of greater sage grouse, a bird that lives and breeds in the sagebrush. Because of this, many Western states are working on plans to improve and preserve the sagebrush steppe the birds rely on. Now, two new studies show that saving sagebrush can benefit more than just the grouse.
Credit Colorado Deptartment of Agriculture / APHIS
Agriculture officials are introducing stingless, parasitic wasps from Asia in an effort to control another non-native insect – the Emerald Ash Borer.
The tiny wasps (Tetrastichus Planipennisi) are a natural parasite of the invasive beetle, native to Asia,that has decimated the ash tree population across the U.S. EAB was found in the city of Boulder in 2013, the furthest west it has yet been found.
After the extreme rains of 2013 hit Colorado, scientists wanted to know if the intense weather event was linked to climate change. After a year's worth of research, they have concluded that the unusual rain event was not made more likely or worsened by human-caused climate change.