Rebuilding After Disaster Strikes

By Liz Clift

The Midwest has been pummeled by storms—and if you’re looking at mainstream online news outlets, you might not even notice amidst other national and international stories. However, Midwestern flooding has implications not only for crops (such as corn, soy, and pigs), which is the focus of the limited news coverage, but also ecology and the environment.

Some scientists suggest that these floods are likely linked to climate change. David Easterling, Chief of the Scientific Services division at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, has pointed out that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water and that much of the rain that’s fallen on the Midwest in recent weeks originated over the Gulf of Mexico. Assuming that this unprecedented rainfall is linked to climate change, we should expect to see this trend continue in the future, perhaps returning parts of the Midwest to the marshier lands that existed prior to the widespread use of tilling.

We know that critical infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, that some people will be permanently displaced, and that clean-up will cost some states billions of dollars. In addition, we can anticipate prices for corn and soybeans will skyrocket due to lower yields. Higher prices for corn and soy will impact not only the food industry, but also the gas (ethanol) industry, some plastics production, and more.

Missouri Flood Image. Captured by Mary Allee

However, the near-term human consequences will have devastating impacts on the people who live in the Midwest (some of whom have lost their homes, livelihoods, or both—or may by the end of this growing season) as well as elsewhere. This most recent set of flooding isn’t even the only flooding parts of the Midwest have experienced this year.

Once the current set of floodwaters recede, ecological consequences will become more apparent. We can probably expect to find that rivers or streams have shifted course (as sometimes happens during large flood events); increased eutrophication in rivers, streams, and the Gulf; rich farmlands scraped bare by rushing floodwaters (with those soils either deposited on other farmlands or at the deltas of the region’s streams and rivers); chemical contamination; cars and buildings in places where they shouldn’t be; soil compaction; and reductions in macroinvertebrates (likely with slow recolonization in areas that have previously experienced flooding this year).

We’ve seen similar floods before in this part of the Midwest, including the Great Flood of 1993—and there may be lessons to learn from that flood as recovery efforts begin with the current flooding, as well as models from around the country. Rebuilding may include efforts to:

  • Stabilize streams and streambanks through a variety of traditional and green engineering methods, as Colorado did after the 2013 floods;
  • Adjust rebuilding homes, businesses, and infrastructure to account for rivers and streams that have changed course (and any new mapping of floodplains by FEMA);
  • Renewed efforts to reconnect floodplains to rivers to reduce the load of water on relatively narrow channels;
  • Conversion of farmland into temporary or permanent prairie systems through Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs or similar land conversion and protection programs;
  • Restoration of prairie and agricultural lands, which may include removing debris; recontouring the land; soil amendments; revegetation; rebuilding key structures that were damaged or destroyed; and more;
  • Water quality monitoring;
  • Rebuilt/restructured levees; and
  • Other measures with the goal of creating a more stable relationship between people and floodwaters.

Within recovery efforts, ecological design should play a central role. Certainly, ecological design can’t prevent flooding from occurring, but ecological design may encourage the development of more resilient landscapes, which allow communities to remain more resilient as well—not only in the face of flooding, but in the case of drought, wildland fires, and other natural disasters.

In addition, engaging ecologists from the beginning can help streamline recovery efforts. Ecologists and ecological designers can work with project teams to design projects that are more likely to experience long-term restoration success while adding aesthetic and even economic value to impacted communities and sites. Ecologists are skilled at examining the plethora of factors that contribute to the ecological function and health of the site, and have even developed a variety of rapid assessment protocols that allow them to use a variety of objective and subjective tools to assess ecological health. This data can then be used to develop restoration and management strategies.

Streamlining restoration efforts ultimately saves the client—including municipalities—money. As cities, towns, and businesses begin to consider their options for rebuilding, may we humbly suggest you include ecologists and ecological designers on your team?

Great Ecology has experience helping towns and municipalities recover from impacts to widespread flooding, including over varied topographical terrain. We offer solutions that are designed to decrease the impacts of future flood events.

Featured image on this blog is from NOAA.

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Great Ecology announces regional expansion to the Gulf Coast

Today, Great Ecology is announcing a major regional expansion into the Gulf Coast by opening an office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.   With the massive wetlands restoration plans of Louisiana, dramatic environmental changes in Texas, and habitat improvement opportunities throughout the Gulf of Mexico region, Great Ecology sees the need for its world class habitat restoration-driven services.

The newly opened office will be led by Claire Odenweller, who has worked in Louisiana and Texas for the past decade.  Dr. Mark Laska, CEO of Great Ecology said, “Great Ecology has worked every Gulf Coast states on multiple projects over the years from our remotely located offices and we realized that a physical presence can only lead to better client servicing.  The opportunity to open an office in Louisiana means we will now be able to offer clients more face-to-face interaction while continuing to develop our practice in the southeastern United States.”

Claire Odenweller stated, “my background as a professional wetland scientist with substantial environmental work in mitigation project and wetland banks, including permitting and ecological assessments dovetails with the core services Great Ecology offers and I am excited to grow our practice in this region.”

Active regional projects include Dallas’s Trinity River riverfront park planning and design, the Humble, TX mitigation bank assessment, and several mitigation and wetland projects in Louisiana.  Previously Great Ecology worked on a multi-state natural resource damage (NRD) coastal restoration project from a major oil spill. 

The office is located at 8550 United Plaza Blvd. and can be reached via (225) 416-5353.  For more information contact Jessa Spainhower or Claire Odenweller.

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Waterfront Esplanade Opens Along East River!

The best things come to those who wait—and it’s with that in mind that Great Ecology is pleased to announce that Pier 35, on the East River Waterfront, is now open! The East River Waterfront Esplanade soft opened in late 2018—but fully opened to the public in April of this year. The project, was led by SHoP Architects, with landscape architecture design from Ken Smith Workshop, ecological consulting from Great Ecology, and engineering from HDR and ARUP. The site includes a new eco-park and urban beach, dubbed Mussel Beach, which was influenced by the pre-industrial East River shoreline and provides habitat for a variety of aquatic species, notably blue and ribbed mussels.

Great Ecology was instrumental in providing scientifically-based design recommendations for the habitat creation feature of the park, including the intertidal shellfish habitat. As part of our role in this project we developed a grant, submitted by NYC Economic Development Corporation, which funded a two-year intertidal shellfish habitat creation study. Great Ecology staff evaluated biotic and abiotic factors at the Site, which included water quality testing, pollution sources, and oyster survivorship and recruitment monitoring to determine whether shellfish could survive and flourish at the chosen location. A “habitat slab,” designed by Ken Smith with Great Ecology’s design guidelines, was installed in 2012 and recruitment of young shellfish onto the slab has already started, which means visitors to the park can see how the East River waterfront aquatic species have been colonizing the habitat slab.

Eco Park/Pier 35, East River Waterfront, NYC Location: New York, NY Architect: SHoP Landscape Architect: Ken Smith Landscape Architect

Restoring and revitalizing shellfish habitat to the East River, which was once home to massive populations of shellfish, is a lofty goal—but one worth pursuing as shellfish act as natural filters. Their presence can improve water quality and offers an excellent indicator of ecological health. This innovative project serves as a pilot for sustainable waterfront development in New York and New Jersey and earned the 2009 Design Award of Excellence from the Public Design Commission of NYC and the 2019 Best New Infrastructure award from MASterworks. The Pier 35 ecopark and urban beach opened to the public in April 2019.

Measuring Mussel Size
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Preparing the Garden? You’ll Want to Consider the Bees

By Liz Clift

Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may already be starting to prepare, or even plant your garden beds. However, did you know that by preparing your bed (or cleaning up winter debris from your yard) too early you can disrupt native pollinator habitat?

Native pollinators may take shelter in brush piles, reeds, and leaf litter from last year’s garden—overwintering, hibernating, or laying their eggs there. They may even nest directly in the soil. If you turn these piles under, or throw them in a compost bin, you could be interrupting the pollinator’s life cycles (and their ability to readily pollinate your garden).

So, when should you prep your garden?

As a general rule of thumb, once temperatures are consistently above 50 to 60 degrees—which is the temperature range preferred by different native bees (honey bees will emerge at the low end of this temperature spectrum) —you can start prepping.

If you can, avoid tilling or turning over the soil as much as possible throughout the year. This is because many ground nesting bees spend much of their lives underground—potentially even at the base of the plant they pollinate.

Why does this matter?

Although the honey bee is the poster child of bee population declines, native bee species actually pollinate large numbers of our crops, as well as native plants, and their numbers are in decline as well. And they’re far from the only native pollinators that rely on debris and shelter in your yard to find areas to nest, forage, or even drink water.

We can support their populations not only by minimizing disturbance of their habitat in our gardens and yards, but also by making sure that we create pollinator friendly habitat that includes a variety of native species, nesting sites, and hydration sites—especially in areas where water is less abundant. Offering a mix of plants that flower at various times throughout the year is also a great thing to do. If you have leafy crops, like lettuce or kale, allowing some of the plants to bolt can also provide additional food sources for native pollinators.

And of course, we can also help support native pollinator populations by minimizing our use of -icides, which can impact not only pollinators, but other insects, fungi and plants that these pollinators rely on for food and shelter.

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Seven More Influential Women in Ecology!

Last week we posted a list of 13 women who have helped shape our understanding of the natural world, our place in it, and how we can learn from, restore, and better protect it. That list (as well as this one!) was far from complete—but as we approach the end of Women’s History Month, we want to cap it off by highlighting seven additional women who are important figures in ecology, restoration, conservation, and related fields.

Emily Callahan and Amber Jackson co-founded Blue Latitudes, an organization dedicated to transforming decommissioned oil rigs into productive reef habitats, which is especially important in a world where reefs continue to struggle.

Gretchen Daily, Ph.D. helped establish the concept of “natural capital,” which views the goods and services that our environment provides as akin to our notion of traditional economic, or “man-made,” capital—in other words, natural capital can become more or less productive over time as a result of human activity, and should be taken into consideration when assessing a system.. This concept and related ones, such as ecosystem services, are fundamental to the field of ecology.

Phyllis Faber co-founded the United States’ first agricultural land trust in Marin County, California—preventing large tracts of land from being sold to developers. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust aims to permanently protect more than 100,000 acres of family farms and ranches by 2040.

Lois Gibbs’ activism led to the foundation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which is used to locate and clean up toxic waste, or “Superfund” sites across the country.

Jane Goodall’s primatology work has transformed our understanding of chimpanzees and redefined our concept of the relationship between humans and animals. The Jane Goodall Institute promotes a holistic approach to conservation that revolves around local communities. Goodall holds a Ph.D. in ethology and her research was focused on the behaviors of “free-living chimpanzees.”

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Important Women in Ecology (Part I)

By Liz Clift

March is women’s history month—and when looking back on recent scientific history, most people probably think of prominent male figures when they picture famous ecologists and conservationists. We’re going to counter that narrative by featuring 13 women who have made a difference in ecology, conservation, restoration, or a related field. These women appear in alphabetical order by last name.

Jodie Darquea Arteaga is a leader at Ecuador Mundo Ecologico and an associate research professor at Ecuador’s State University of the Santa Elena Peninsula. Ecuador Mundo Ecologico is an organization dedicated to understanding by-catch—when fishing lines accidentally entangle non-target species (like turtles, dolphins, or birds)—as it occurs in small fleets. This is, in part, because small fleets don’t face the same international regulatory requirements as industrial fishing vessels, despite the fact that the smaller boats may number in the thousands. Before her work began, there was no documentation of bycatch by these fishermen. Now, alongside other partners, she has documented more than 700 of these fishing trips.

Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature and co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, helped revolutionize design thinking. The practice of biomimicry adheres to six design lessons that species use to survive and thrive: adaptation, attunement and responsiveness, evolution, resource efficiency, life-friendly chemistry, and the integration of development with growth.

Rachel Carson is perhaps best known for Silent Spring, which alerted the world to the perils of DDT. However, this was far from her only published work. She also wrote extensively about Atlantic marine ecology, particularly coastal and intertidal ecosystems. Carson worked for the Bureau of Fisheries (which later became the US Fish and Wildlife Service) for many years and continued to write both essays and books, while also battling challenges from the chemical industry about DDT.

Ruth Defries, Ph.D.,uses remote sensing to better understand how the Earth’s habitability is influenced by human activities, which can alter climate, nutrient cycling, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services. She has recently(?) focused most of her attention on tropical deforestation and the impacts it has on atmospheric carbon emissions.

Amrita DeviAmrita Devi was a member of the Bishnoi religious community, which respects the sanctity of all forms of life. Bishnoi’s view the Khejri tree (Prosopis cineraria) as a critical life force in the desert. In 1730, the King of Jodhpur sent his army to Bishnoi villages to cut trees for his palace. Amrita Devi ran to one of the trees and hugged it to stop it from being felled. She, along with many other Bishnoi, were massacred protecting their trees. Their sacrifice later inspired the Chipko Andolan movement.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a journalist, author, racial justice and voting rights advocate—and a staunch defender of the Everglades. She fought against efforts to drain the massive wetlands and transition the land for development. In the 1920s, she joined the board of the Everglades Tropical National Park committee, the goal of which was to designate the Everglades as a national park. By the 1970s, she focused her critiques on damages being done to the Everglades through development and pollution. Her efforts earned her monikers such as “Grande Dame of the Everglades.”

Sylvia Earle, Ph.D., is a marine biologist, explorer, author, and public speaker who leads Mission Blue and was the first woman to become chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She has been a tireless advocate for the oceans, has led more than 50 expeditions, and has clocked more than 7,000 hours under water (for context, there are 8,760 hours in a year).

Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a sea-level researcher and climate activist who began her career in south Florida, where she was raised. Although she started in academia, she later switched to advocacy after concluding that academic work takes too long to reach vulnerable populations. She’s particularly interested in the disproportionate impacts of sea-level rise on Hispanic and other populations that reside in coastal areas.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Ph.D., is a plant ecologist and botanist, and a Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York. She supports the Traditional Ecological Knowledge approach, which integrates empirical science with cultural and spiritual considerations, and founded the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment based on this philosophy. The mission of this Center is to create programs that rely on both indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge to support healthy environments. She is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and the author of two books and numerous articles. In addition to her work helping to weave together indigenous wisdom and empirical science, Kimmerer believes that one of the ways to curb ecological destruction is to talk about nature in a different way. She points [AR1] out that we talk [AR2] about anything non-human as an “it,” and that this is part of [AR3] linguistic imperialism—a habit which makes it easier for us humans to destroy the earth rather than coexist with[AR4] the other beings of the world.

“Language has always been changeable and adaptive. We lose words we don’t need anymore and invent the ones we need. We don’t need a worldview of Earth beings as objects anymore. That thinking has led us to the precipice of climate chaos and mass extinction. We need a new language that reflects the life-affirming world we want. A new language, with its roots in an ancient way of thinking.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer

Wangari Maathai, Ph.D., founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. The organization restores degraded watersheds and forest lands by planting trees, which improve water catchment, stabilize the soil, and reduce poverty in local communities by providing food and firewood. Since the organization’s founding, Green Belt Movement communities have planted more than 51 million trees in Kenya. The Movement also focuses on empowering people to address the needs of their community through civic and environmental seminars.

Patricia Medici, Ph.D.,is a Brazilian conservation biologist whose main area of study has been protecting the vulnerable tapir population, a jungle-dwelling mammal that is similar to a pig but with a short trunk. Tapirs help shape plant biodiversity in the areas they inhabit and also improve the survival rate of large predators. Alongside those efforts, Medici also focuses on tropical forest conservation, landscape ecology, community-based conservation, and metapopulation management. Since one of the biggest threats tapirs face is from vehicular traffic, Medici and her team decided to add highly reflective stickers to the tapir’s tracking collars, with the hope of increasing their visibility.

Peggy Shepard is an international leader in the fight against environmental racism. In 1991, at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, she helped draft the Principles of Environmental Justice, which aim to ensure justice, respect, and environmentally safe livelihoods for all populations. She is also the co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, which has helped New York residents—and people across the globe—engage in community-based campaigns to improve environmental protection and health policies.

Terry Tempest Williams is a conservationist and author whose writing is rooted in the American West. She focuses on topics such as ecology, wilderness preservation, public health, and the relationship between culture and nature. She has written extensively about the ways human activities impact ecological systems, the changing shape of landscape due to natural and anthropogenic causes, and how power can corrupt not just individuals but ecosystems and culture.

We can’t cover all of ecology’s prominent women in the space of one blog—so keep an eye out for our next article in a few days that will highlight even more of science’s revolutionary females.

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Australia’s Other Reef

By Liz Clift

It’s easy enough to think about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and call it to mind: you might imagine bright corals or giant clams. You might picture great white sharks or sandy beaches. Chances are good that your  mental picture is full of bright colors—from the corals,  the tropical fishes, and even the aquamarine waters themselves. Maybe you’ve even visited  and you can feel the water over your skin, the snorkeling or scuba mask on your face, the bubbles brushing against you. Maybe you’ve tickled one of those giant clams just to watch it snap shut or even come face to face with a moray eel.

If you’re more familiar with the troubles befalling the GBR, you might instead be picturing the freshwater flood waters that have been impacting it in recent weeks, vast swaths of bleached corals, and ghosts of what used to be a teeming ecosystem. You wouldn’t be far off if you imagined an occasional fish swimming through a nearly barren landscape with algae coating what once were vibrant, colorful corals.

The GBR is foundational to fisheries along Australia’s eastern shore. It brings in tourism dollars, supports diverse and endemic species, and offers shoreline protection, among other ecosystem benefits. But did you know there’s another, lesser known reef system that spans much of Australia’s southern coastal areas—and that(?) may be just as important in terms of providing habitat for a variety of marine life, protecting the shoreline, and offering carbon sequestration?

The Great Southern Reef—a system of temperate rocky reefs that spans 71,000 km2—is defined by dense kelp forests, which support sponges, abalone, fish, corals, sea stars, sea urchins, and crustaceans, among many other animals, some of which do not exist anywhere else on earth. This includes the weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) and the harlequin fish (Othos dentex), but in some areas as much of 80% of the species may be endemic.

And these kelp forests are nothing to scoff at. They produce nearly 145,000 pounds of biomass per hectare (roughly 2.5 acres) per year, which is six times the yield of Australia’s wheat crops. They support the tourism industry and a number of fishing industries (including abalone and rock lobster), and provide significant carbon sequestration.

Unfortunately, these kelp forests are also disappearing. The waters these kelp forests live in are some of the fastest warming regions of the ocean—and were recently(?) pummeled by heat waves, exacerbating the problem. In 2011, a heat wave rocked the region and brought record high temperatures. Since kelp prefers cooler [AR1] temperatures, many of the forests were destroyed; 43% disappeared entirely by 2013. Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), one of the species that make up these forests, has lost 95% percent of its range over the past 75 years. To put that in perspective for you: that’s basically the same amount of time since the end of World War II—which isn’t all that long ago. And locals have been discussing the decreasing kelp population in the area for years—in part because in some areas, a large part of the economy is reliant on kelp or the species found living among the kelp.

And, rather than the kelp growing back, it’s being replaced with “turf-forming” seaweeds that are more tolerant of warmer waters. At the same time, the inhabitants of these kelp forests are being replaced with tropical species that are drawn to warmer waters. In recognition of the way these ecosystems are changing, the Australian government listed giant kelp forests as an endangered community in 2012 (a designation that still hasn’t been granted to the country’s coral reefs).

One theory about why the kelp forests are having trouble growing back is because kelp propagates via spores (like a fern), and in some areas, ocean currents move water away from places where the kelp has died back. Even when these areas are manually replanted, they may be impacted by species like parrotfish, which is a tropical grazing species. Parrotfish graze on algae—which can benefit corals, but impacts macroalgaes, like kelp. These events could further exacerbate the strain on a species that prefers cooler, nutrient rich waters and is currently having to live in waters that are much warmer than previous points in recorded history.

So what is there to do? With all the news about the impacts of global warming, it’s easy (and maybe even tempting) to feel overwhelmed. There is so little that individuals can do most of the time—especially if you’re already being more conscious of how you consume goods and services. But in this case, there is at least one more thing you can do (depending on where you live).

Researchers have developed a citizen-science opportunity for divers and non-divers alike to support research and restoration efforts. Reef Explorers Down Under offers opportunities to become involved in  efforts to protect the Great Southern Reef.  Most of the opportunities are best suited to someone in Australia (and near Sydney) or with the ability to travel (who is also SCUBA certified), but there may be opportunities for others to get involved as well. If nothing else, you can support them on social media.

If you don’t live in a place where you can directly participate in the citizen-science project, this may feel like very little. But you can also help raise awareness about the Great Southern Reef by sharing blogs (like this one) and articles that discuss the Great Southern Reef to help raise broader awareness of this ecosystem and its plight.

Featured Image from: Australian Academy of Science

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Chris Loftus Among First to Earn SITES AP Credential

Chris Loftus, Senior Landscape Architect at Great Ecology has earned the SITES Professional (SITES AP) credential through Green Building Certification Inc. (GBCI), placing him among an elite group of professionals dedicated to elevating the value of landscapes in the built environment.

The SITES AP establishes a common framework to define the profession of sustainable landscape design and development. It provides landscape professionals the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise, and commitment to the profession. SITES APs possess the knowledge and skills necessary to support the SITES certification process, including participating in the design and development process, support and encouraging integrated design, managing the application and certification process and providing advocacy and education for the adoption of SITES.

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Podcast Episodes to Intrigue and Inspire You

By Liz Clift

It’s been a while since we posted about podcasts—which are a great way to learn new information, hear other people’s stories, or catch up on the news—so we decided it’s time to post about them again. But this time we want to do it differently.

Here are some podcast episodes we’ve loved that have a nexus with spending time outside or  improving/bolstering our understanding of the more-than-human world. There are plenty of podcasts available if you want the entire focus to be about the outdoors or ecology. This isn’t that. This time we’ll highlight particular episodes of podcasts that may be centered on science—or for which science may only be a small part of their focus.

Think of these as “tasters” for podcasts you may or may not already know—and which may or may not always focus on the outdoors, ecology, or related topics.

Podcast: Lore

Episode: 108 – Debris

Family Friendly?: Yes

Summary: Anyone familiar with Lore knows that host, Aaron Mahnke, does his research (with assistance from Marcet Crockett) on folklore. This episode focuses on our oceans—and the monsters we find within them. He covers tales of “sea monsters” that actually come with some pretty reasonable explanations, but also offers insight into the human psyche and why we create such mysteries around the depths of our oceans.

Podcast: StoryCollider

Episode: December 15, 2015 Adam Foote: The Sea Urchin Massacre

Family Friendly?: More or less (mentions sea urchin sex)

Summary: StoryCollider’s narrators tell true, personal stories about science. In this episode, Adam Foote wants to get sea urchins (shipped  from San Diego) into Pittsburgh during a polar vortex. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go exactly as planned.

Podcast: The Moth

Episode: Butterflies Beneath the Ice

Family Friendly: Yes

Summary: James McClintock discusses polar diving from the perspective of a chemical ecologist—and what it was like to dive under eight feet of sea ice—including seeing a collage of corals, urchins, and other animals. Things change when he sees a shrimp wearing a little orange backpack.

Podcast: Good Job Brain

Episode: 21 – Plants are Messed Up

Family Friendly: Yes

Summary: As a family friendly trivia podcast, Good Job Brain episodes are generally filled with nuggets of trivia coupled with some story-telling. This episode focuses on the bizarre world of plants. If you like this one, you’ll also want to check out Episode 10 – Animals are Weird (and it may make you think differently about some of your favorite sweet treats).

Podcast: Sawbones

Episode: Poison Ivy

Family Friendly: Yes

Summary: She’s a medical doctor, he plays a goofball who doesn’t understand things—but together this husband and wife team dissect weird aspects of medical history (and sometimes the(?) medical present). In this episode, they explore the medical history of poison ivy—which pretty much anyone who works in the field tries to avoid, since it can cause skin irritation (or worse for some people). You might be surprised by how it has been used in the field of medicine.

Podcast: Science for the People

Episode: 494 – The Tangled Taxonomic Tree

Family Friendly: Yes

Summary: You might still think about the tree of life or the evolutionary tree—but science has moved on to something much more complex. This podcast explores the tangled web of taxonomy in an accessible way.

Podcast: Undiscovered

Episode: The Long Loneliness

Family Friendly: Yes

Summary: Thousands of people each year spend a collective $2B annually to watch whales—but we haven’t always been so enamored with these massive creatures. In fact, Americans used to think of whales as the raw materials for margarine, animal feed, and fertilizer. This podcast explores what changed in the ways we think about these mammals.

Podcast: Escape the Zoo

Episode: Amber Jackson + Emily Hazelwood – Rigs-to-Reefs

Family Friendly: Yes (but fairly scientifically technical)

Summary: Great Ecology associates Amber Jackson and Emily Callahan Hazelwood discuss the transformation of oil rigs into productive reefing structures—which can provide valuable habitat for a variety of marine life. They also discuss how removing an entire “platform jacket” from one of these oil rigs can completely collapse the small ecosystem that formed around the rig. If you want to learn more about their work with converting rigs to reefs, check out their website or listen to their interview on Ocean Alison. They also appeared on Living Lab on NPR.

Podcast: On Being

Episode: Robin Wall Kimmerer – The Intelligence in All Kinds of Life

Family Friendly: Yes

Summary: Robin Wall Kimmerer provides an interview to Krista Tippet about the beauty and intelligence of the more-than-human world, including a discussion about how she became interested in pursuing science in a way that assumes part of the world’s beauty is through evolution. As an example, Kimmerer speaks about the combination of asters and goldenrods in a field, which appear beautiful to people because of their contrasting colors—but which also help attract more pollinators than either plant would alone. If you’ve read (or heard about) Braiding Sweetgrass or Gathering Moss, you’ll want to listen to this interview.

What podcast episodes that are related to ecology, biology, marine science, or botany have you particularly enjoyed? Remember, the goal isn’t that every episode of the podcast be focused on some branch of ecological science (although that may be true), but to find good podcasts that also include a solid basis in science or story-telling. Please link to your favorite episodes on your Facebook page about this blog!

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Hunter’s Point South Phase II – Best Urban Landscape Project

Great Ecology is pleased to announce that Hunter’s Point South, Phase II has been named the Best Urban Landscape project for 2019 by the Municipal Arts Society. We are so pleased with the work our team has put into this effort.

Members of the Great Ecology team designed the approximately one acre tidal wetland mitigation and habitat creation and provided extensive permitting support. This included a Wetlands Functional Analysis and an Evaluation of Planned Wetlands. Great Ecology’s design accounted for predicted sea-level rise to ensure long-term project success.

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