The Unfamiliar Northern Invasion

Last Updated April 25, 2016 12:20 p.m. EST

 

Source: Pixabay, Stock Photo

The United States is covered with Canada Geese. These animals are a special kind of invasive species which can be found virtually everywhere and the knowledge their origins elude most people. A closer examination will uncover unknown characteristics and provide a bigger look at our natural environment.

Us Michiganders are certainly no strangers to invasive species. Our Great Lakes have become infested with zebra mussels. Our wood is overwhelmingly infected with the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. However, one particular species is a special type and doesn’t receive the recognition that the others do, Branta Canadensis, or the Canada Goose.

The Canada Goose is originally native to Alaska, Canada, western Greenland and some northern parts of the United States. Due to their migration patterns, they normally fly south to during the colder months, ranging from central U.S. to northern Mexico. However, lately a large number have taken up permanent residence in the U.S. This makes them unique in the they are somewhat native to certain areas and invasive to others.Below are pictures of Canada Geese I took right around where I live in Livonia, MI.

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“There are many problems that come along with their new found settlement plans.” said Anna Boegehold. “Anytime a species enter a new ecosystem, the dynamics change considerably. Things like food and space are challenged against other species, sometimes a matter of life or death. Resources are scarce and chances are the new species won’t have a predator to cull the numbers, as well as limit resource consumption.”

Ms. Boegehold is a PhD student in the Environmental Sciences department at Wayne State University and her knowledge of the zebra mussels invasion of The Great Lakes gives her insight into the repercussions of having a new species affect the food web.

Specifically to Canada Geese, there are many annoyances people find themselves exposed to around these creatures. One problem is their aggressive behavior, especially around the spring/summer months which are their mating season. They have been known to go after humans if approached. Below is a link on what to do if you’re under attack from a Canada Goose.

Another irritation is the droppings they leave behind. Almost everyone has been to been to an area that seems to be seemingly covered in these small droppings. A single goose can defecate every 20 minutes and up to 1.5 pounds each day. In addition to it just being generally unpleasant, the feces can contain parasites, bacteria, viruses and fungi that may be harmful to our health.

Canada Geese thrive in urban/industrial areas. They are very adaptable and can nest in essentially every environment that meets their weather standards. It is not uncommon to come across a goose in a parking lot or a residential neighborhood. Their aggressive nature and fecal matter is made worse by living so closely to us. Also things like driving and other day to day operations can be effected.

Canada Geese are notorious for making incredibly annoying sounds. Their honking seemingly goes on for as long as they are awake, sometimes deep into the night. Just another unfavorable aspect of them being constantly around us.

The hunting of Canada Geese is somewhat of a strange issue. Like most animals, they can be hunted during specified periods of the year and in certain areas. Michigan is home to tons of game areas and motivated hunters usually undergo little trouble finding one near them. However the problem resides in the fact that a significant population still resides in these urban/residential areas where hunting is of course out of the question.

How do we specifically cull the numbers here  or perhaps move them to a more acceptable area away from the general population? Also how can we differentiate between migratory and nonmigratory Canada Geese? Below is a map with some of the popular game areas pin-pointed around Michigan.

At least you can eat them…

But why are these geese switching from migratorial in the first place? The primary guess is an abundance of food and minimal predators. Up north, the geese were susceptible to bears, wolves, coyotes, eagles and other species. While the U.S. does consist of some of these, the concentration is far lower.

Kyle Kandilian works at the Environmental Interpretive Center at the University of Michigan Dearborn campus. Below is a video interview I conducted with Kyle on the history of the Canada Geese, the problems they have with them on campus and their current status as it pertains to populations and hunting.

Robert Brown works at the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, specifically Kensington, and deals with Canada Geese regularly. Below is an interview with Robert where he talks about DNR policy, geese health hazards and population control.

The Canada Goose flies under the radar when it comes to common knowledge of U.S. pests. While they are a mixed bag when it comes to aesthetic appeal, the problems they now cause with their permanent residency is something we are not fully prepared for yet. While everyday people may not be aware of this, the issue is on forefront of environmental organizations.

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Book Reflection: Going Viral by Karine Nahon and Jeff Hemsley

Last Updated April 5, 2016 7:34p.m. EST

Source: Book Review: Going Viral by Karine Nahon and Jeff Hemsley. Nikki Soo

The whole concept of viral content means different things to different people. Most see it as a source of entertainment while others condemn it for being a example of human’s connection to every other person on the planet. This book tries to formulate a criteria for what gives information virality, as well as the biological tendencies our species has to this content.

Virality was defined as…”A social information flow process where many people simultaneously forward specific information over a short period of time, within their social networks, to other distant networks, resulting in sharp acceleration in the number of people who are exposed to the message.”

This is a definition I can definitely get behind however reading on I found their definition to be inconsistent and the criteria changed.

One part that constituted a disagreement on my part was their stance on memes. According to them all memes did not qualify as viral because the context of the meme can change. The example they used was Lt. Pike who pepper sprayed some activists from the Occupy Movement.

Source: Lt. John Pike UC Davis Pepper Spray Victims Filing Lawsuit, Lalate News

This is a popular meme that had been dubbed throughout the years.The context does change significantly as illustrated from the original above and the parody below, however the integrity of the original idea lives on through these remixes. The scientific definition they use is not the one society follows. To most of us, this is viral.

Source: Lt. Pike Pepper Sprays Everything!, Break.com

Other concepts like gatekeepers were discussed as well. Gatekeepers are information barriers between information senders and receivers that decide what is allowed to pass through and reach social networks. Facebook is a popular example because of it’s widespread use. Facebook has a big say in what information gets posted and how far it’s allowed to travel. When cases of information censorship/deletion doesn’t occur, they can rank information and position certain things high or low on people’s news feeds.

Other honorable mentions in regards to concepts include; weak ties, information overload and it’s role in traditional vs social media, Sigmoid Curve and the slow-fast-flow model, among others. Overall I did think this book was an interesting read and it comes highly recommended. Some things don’t resonate with people when make things into a scientific formula.It was sort of tough to comprehend this perspective but nonetheless interesting.

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Reflection on the Nine Ethical Questions of Online Journalism and Social Media

Last Updated March April 2, 2016 11:56 p.m. EST

Source: Teodoraturovic

Ethics, while being a completely subjective concept, are something everyone must follow if they want to function correctly in society. The collective agreement of right and wrong is applied to all actions of everyday life. As a public relations student it’s import to familiarize oneself of proper online journalism and social media ethics. Below are the nine ethical questions one must ask themselves before utilizing these tools.

1. Can journalists use social networks to express opinions or advocate for causes?

Journalists can use social networking as a platform to post their opinions/advocate causes as long as the employer is always considered. It does seem like a grey area because restricting what a journalist says is always going to be looked at as censorship.

However, today people are constantly losing their jobs for saying things that conflict with their employers. As a journalist, I feel part of the job is to be a representative and thus should conduct themselves to a specific set of guidelines. Having separate professional and personal accounts is a good way to sort of widen the gap between the two.

2. What about retweeting, reposting or reblogging the opinions of others? Is that an acceptable practice for a journalist, and if so, how should it be handled?

Reposting, reblogging or retweeting is again sort of a grey area. The benefit of it is that it uses an outside source that takes responsibility for the content being sent out. Some people may subconsciously absolve themselves from the actual message, claiming that it isn’t them that is saying these things but someone else.

The negative side of things is that it still attaches a message to the person reposting, reblogging or retweeting. In a way it’s endorsement, which as illustrated above, may conflict with a person’s current employment.

3. Is it wise for a journalist to get in angry exchanges with the public on social networks?

Journalists should avoid getting involved in arguments with others over social networks at all costs. Any problems should be handled privately through email or other 1-1 communication channels. The internet has become a breeding ground for mindless negative communication. Trolls can’t be reasoned. It’s usually in the journalist’s best interest to avoid negative online confrontation.

4. To what degree is a journalist required to identify himself when using a social network?

A journalist should always identify themselves over social networks, especially on their professional accounts. I don’t agree with the exception of investigative reporting, which says identifying yourself is not always required. This exception isn’t clearly defined enough and can easily be abused.

5. What level of verification is needed for a journalist to share news over social?

Verification of news is flexible if the proper attribution is given. What makes this ethical is whether the reader can reasonably be aware of where the source came from/credibility from the shared news. It may be negatively impacting if rumors/information is shared from an unconfirmed/unreliable source. Try to share information from organizational confirmed accounts and reliable people.

6. Are there safety or security issues to consider when posting on social networks?

There are several safety aspects to take into account when using social networks. Make sure posted material doesn’t release information on where to find people. It’s a crazy world and there are a lot of people that want to do who know s what to informants. Also going back to negative online confrontations, antagonizing someone could raise safety problems.

7. Is it OK for a journalist to friend or follow a source?

It is usually acceptable for journalists to friend/follow sources. Keeping tabs on sources is part of the job.Sometimes an impartial employer will require someone to follow both the opposing side of the source. Whichever way, this is an important way to keep up to date on currently occurring issues.

8. Should any social network postings be considered private, necessitating permission before quoting them?

The general rule is nothing on social media is private. Using privacy settings is not full-proof and such safeguards should not be completely relied on. Some conservatives feel contacting the source and informing them of the quote is ethical. This ensures the quote accurately reflect’s the person’s tone/intentions.

9. What’s an ethical way to correct errors made on social networks?

Avoiding errors at all costs is the ideal approach for journalists. Telling themselves that they can edit the post if errors arise is lazy and harms their credibility. The best course of action is to create a new post with the right information and also noting the inaccuracies of the previous one while also leaving it up. When editing posts (like on Facebook), include what changed and why.

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State of the World

Last Updated March 27, 2016 7:00 p.m. EST

Source:nasa.gov, Earth stock photo

The state of the world is a comprehensive analysis on the current condition of our planet using a collection of tweets from credible scientific sources.

The construction of this post was created in reaction to the very little coverage of environmental issues in the 2016 presidential elections. Every issue needs to be addressed, not just the hot topics because these problems are a slow burn which is why most people so easily disregard them.

The following tweets are all articles of events that were tweeted in the past 12 weeks. Although not all events are necessarily related, each have a significant effect on the overall state of the planet in which we inhabit.

Solar energy is an important energy source because of it’s renewability. However implementation can be quite expensive and not all countries can afford such an undertaking. It’s good to see France is installing 621 miles of solar panels on their roads over the next five years. Anytime we can refrain from fossil fuels, the better it is.

Similar trends are popping up in Russia and Central Asia which are trying to go mostly renewable by 2030. Their model accounts for solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

2015 has been has been recorded as the hottest year since 2014. This is also the fourth time since 2000 that a global temperature record was broken. This is an alarming statistic which is no doubt linked to man-induced climate change. Solar energy, as stated above, is a good way to limit carbon emissions and thus decreasing these rising temperatures.

Currently, air travel and other shipping methods count for 5% on all of the greenhouse gases and are projected to account for 30% by 2050. These environmental aircraft standards are much too low and the 2028 fuel reduction plan doesn’t do enough combat the issue.

Global warming has been slowly melting away the glaciers. The Col du Dômeis being drilled to extract it’s ice core for transportation to Antarctica. There is can be properly stored and studied. Glacier cores have layers that get stacked on over time. Each layer has small pockets of air that contains pollutants which can tell us what were in the atmosphere at certain points in time.

One of the primary victims of global climate change is the vegetation. Native plants are struggling to continue existing in areas where they had no problems doing before, fuel burning and deforestation being the primary culprits. Plants are actually moving, their seeds are growing in areas they have not previously and are affecting the ecosystem. Not only are new ecosystems spawning  but some vegetation is unable to find a new place with acceptable circumstances for it to grow.

Michigan has awarded $3.6 million towards combating invasive species in the state which includes 19 projects. Invasive species are mostly brought in from their place of origin and can be extremely harmful to the food web. Right now Michigan’s big problem is their zebra mussels infestation in the Great Lakes. These mussels clog pipes, stick to boats, eat large amounts of plankton which the fish rely on and effectively kill them, and so on.

Beijing has raised the requirements to issue red alerts on air pollution. Beijing is already one of the most polluted cities in the world and there is absolutely no need to adjust such a criteria. If anything it needs to be lowered instead. This is an issue of public knowledge. Now the Chinese government is saying their already poor air quality is allowed to get worse and that it’s still healthy to breathe in.

It’s interesting to think of a farm growing something that is unintended to be consumed as food or something without a visual aesthetic appeal. In Veracruz, Mexico there is a crop that’s sole purpose to take carbon out of the air. If widely practiced, this method can take billions of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.

Honeybees are a large part of the environment, specifically in agriculture. In Europe, the average honeybee has ben discovered to have on average 57 different pesticides in their system at a given time. Honeybees pollinate 80% of Europe’s crops/wild plants. Pesticides damage their immune system causing an increase in the chance of contracting a virus or parasite.

The 2015 world record for most money invested in renewable resources was broke with $286 being spent in 2016. It’s easy to say progress is progress but environment issues are races against time. Making progress should definitely be celebrated as long as we don’t become to complacent with the results.

A device designed to pull in garbage from the oceans has gone viral all over social media. The Oceanic Cleanup, a nonprofit that deployed the invention, racked in an astonishing $2.2 million in crowdfunding alone. However there are questions about whether it can withstand the true might of the ocean or how it’ll effect the wildlife.

It’s a shame that it might not be a complete working prototype but the underlying message is important. Dependence on technology and advancement won’t solve all the problems. Some of it is simply never getting to that position in the first place.

In conclusion, the state of the world is still in trouble. Advancements are being made but and equal or greater amount of regression is occurring constantly. All my examples don’t even begin to scratch the number if issues we face and it is our responsibility as a species to figure out how to fix these things as quickly as possible.

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Living on Earth; Weekly Podcast on Environmental Issues

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Living on Earth is a weekly environmental news program that contains features, interviews, and commentary on a wide range of ecological topics. They broadcast from the University of Massachusetts and have episodes archiving back to 1991.

 

Anna Boegehold: Zebra mussels have been infesting the Great Lakes since the 1990s [VIDEO]

Last Updated March 19, 2016 10:38 p.m. EST

 

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dreissena_polymorpha3.jpg

 

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that has been disrupting the Great Lakes ecosystem for many years.

Today the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie, homes an explosive population of zebra mussels. They are an invasive species, native to Eurasia, and responsible for disrupting ecosystems around the globe.

As a filter feeding species, they eat food particles in the water thus filtering it and removing pollutants as well. However this can also be harmful because sunlight which previously was unable to reach certain areas can help grow macrophytes which damage water quality and taint beaches.

Anna Boegehold is a PhD student at Wayne State University (introduction above). She is currently researching how populations of zebra mussels react to certain kinds of bacteria in hopes of finding more information on zebra mussel population control.

Currently she is testing a type of cynobacteria that slows down reproduction  of the zebra mussels. Tracking the sperm swim patterns, the water containing cynobacteria has significantly hindered the sperm movement compared to water with healthy green algae.

“They messed up the entire food web.” said Ms. Boegehold. “They’re veracious consumers, eating lot of healthy green algae which some fish depend on. This problem magnifies as you move up the food web.”

The cost to fight these pests are over $500 million alone on just the Great Lakes, with an estimated $1 billion over the next 10 years. This includes categories like prevention costs, chemical treatments, planning/design/engineering, research/development and filtration efforts.

Via pub.med.gov

The zebra mussels have become an environmental epidemic, and their influence needs to be removed. It it no longer a Michigan issue. Significant signs of the species have been spotted southwest into the Mississippi tributaries and as far as the Colorado river.

There are many things you can do to help prevent further spreading as well as protect yourself against these invaders.

  • Wear water shoes whenever your in an infested area. The shells of the zebra mussels are sharp and can cut uncovered feet.
  • Clean out your boat’s rudders entering another body of water. Zebra mussels and stick to the bottom of passing boats.
  • Don’t move water from one area to another. A zebra mussel egg is invisible to the naked eye and can contain thousands of eggs in a relatively small amount of water.

 

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LinkedIn & Resume Workshop [PHOTOS]

 

Last Updated: March 1, 2016 11:12 p.m. EST

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On February 24, 2016, the public relations students at Wayne State University were treated to a LinkedIn and resume builder workshop, held at room 179 Manoogian Hall from 1:25-2:50. Here students were given advice from real-world PR professionals through an open Q&A, followed by personal sit-down critiques. Efforts to host this event were collaborated by Dr. Shelly Major and The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), Detroit Chapter.

The event was a remarkable success, filled with students eagerly looking for workplace perspectives. The panel was quite diverse as it represented three branches of PR; corporate, recruiting and agency. This allowed students to compare each one to see what parts they professionally identified with.

Many topics were covered such as…

  • Do I need an objectives part on my resume?
  • Do companies use LinkedIn to research new hires?
  • What should I consider when “connecting” with someone on LinkedIn?
  • Are references really a big deal?
  • And many more!

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Strives in Forest Conservation Hasten

Last Updated: Feb. 9, 2016 8:40 p.m. EST

Source: Profitable Plants Digest, Growing Walnut Trees for Profit

Canada moving legislation, protecting 85% of Great Bear Rainforest. Carbon levels expected to decrease with new regrowth.

On February 2, 2016, The Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia had legislation moved  to have 85% of it’s land protected. This bill will help limit commercial logging, effectively making 9.1 million acres unavailable for use. Talks have been underway since 2006, although The First Nations group, an organization representing the indigenous groups in Canada, have been leading the fight against the timber companies.

The Great Bear Rainforest is also home to 1,000,000 year-old cedar trees, as well as a plethora of wildlife including a variety of wolves, bears, mountain goats, otters, among others. It is also one of the last unspoiled temperate rain forests, meaning it’s climate is fairly moderate compared to the extremely hot temperatures of tropical rain forests.

Via Inhabitat

Ironically this legislation doesn’t protect bears as much as it does trees. The final deal still allows bear hunting in all parts. This is interesting because this forest is home to the rare “spirit bear”, a sub species of the black bear and coined by the groups of the First Nation.

Regrowing rain forests absorb carbon better than already existing ones. In fact, according to Mark Kinver, environment reporter at BBC News, studies show that newly grown forests take in 11 times as much. These plants require more carbon to grow in their struggle to compete for sunlight and nutrients. With 85% of the land now protected, this new vegetation will help us combat the rising carbon levels brought on by human induced climate change. Furthermore, the remaining 15% not protected is considered old growth and doesn’t consume nearly as much.

While understandably, all environmental legislation must take commercial interests into consideration, this seems to be overall a net positive. The regrowing of vegetation is most opportune in regards to our high carbon levels and while the wildlife might not have gotten the central attention, a win is a win.