CONTRIBUTIONS TO SCIENCE
Below is a sample of recent contributions to science made by Earthwatch-supported research:
2019 Dr. Cristina Eisenberg et al. (Restoring Fires, Wolves and Bison to the Canadian Rockies) found that the Kenow wildfire, a megafire, burned her study site with 98% extreme severity, but that this did not cause an eruption of invasive plant species, and increased detections of native grasses.
2018 Dr. Richard Bodmer et al. (Amazon Riverboat Exploration) determined from data collected over a decade in the western Amazon Basin that recent major floods have resulted in a 95% decline in terrestrial mammal populations. Fish, waterfowl, and giant river otter populations increased during the floods, while river dolphin and caiman numbers were stable, as were most arboreal species. Ungulates and large rodents are important sources of food and income for locals, and large declines in these animals has shifted resource use of people living in the flooded forests away from hunting to a greater reliance on fish—both as food and tradable commodity.
2017 Earthwatch research staff publish findings on use of “Measures of Success” evaluation tool for tracking and assessing project impacts. The use of such tracking tools help hold citizen-science projects accountable for project robust impacts and outcomes, while reinforcing the goals and values of institutions that support citizen science research.
2016 Dr. Joseph Dudley et al. (The Elephant Factor) expanded on their 1996 and 1998 work that first documented carnivory in the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious); their latest data showed that hippo carnivory causes increased anthrax mortality rates orders of magnitude higher than for other anthrax-susceptible herbivores.
2015 Dr. Lee Dyer et al. (Climate Change and Caterpillars in Costa Rica) found that host diversity affects the proportion of dietary specialists among insect herbivores, and that this shifts globally. The results of this study—which included more than 7,500 species—inform our understanding of how insect herbivores will respond to climate change.
2015 Dr. Charles Higham et al. (Origins of Angkor) re-dated the Angkor sites Ban Chiang, Non Nok Tha, Ban Na Di, and Ban Lum Khoa. Their data showed a new chronology for the Bronze Age, supporting the model that the Bronze Age occurred in the 11th century B.C. These results elucidate the timing of copper base technology in Southeast Asia.
2014 Dr. James Paruk et al. (Loons and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill) found that Common Loons (Gavia immer) wintering in the Gulf of Mexico two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill showed increasing concentrations and frequency of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These results demonstrated that the oil spill continues to impact loons wintering in the Gulf of Mexico.