Recent CALS Spotlights

  • Agriculture is big business in Arizona, and industry leaders in Yuma County are teaming up with the University of Arizona to arm growers with science and information they need to swiftly tackle threats to their profitability.

    The recently launched Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture - YCEDA – will provide the latest research and information in pest management, food safety, plant diseases, water conservation and more.

    Yuma, the winter vegetable capital of the world, is home to more than 175 different crops, with an annual gross economic return of $3.2 billion. About 90 percent of leafy greens consumed in the United States and Canada in the winter come through Yuma.

  • Say what you will about the parasitic lifestyle, but in the game of evolution, it's a winner.

    Given that about half of all known species are parasites, biologists have long hypothesized that the strategy of leeching off other organisms is a major driver of biodiversity. Studying populations of Galápagos hawks (Buteo galapagoensis) and feather lice that live in their plumage (Degeeriella regalis), a group led by University of Arizona ecologists and evolutionary biologists has gathered some of the first field evidence suggesting that a phenomenon called co-divergence between parasites and hosts is indeed an important mechanism driving the evolution of biodiversity.

  • What does it mean to be a "grown-up?"

    Once upon a time, a spouse, children and a home were among the most typical hallmarks of adulthood. But that definition may be changing, says one researcher involved in an ongoing University of Arizona study of young adults.

    The UA launched the Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students study – also known as APLUS – in 2007, with the goal of better understanding the financial knowledge and behaviors of young adults.

  • Those who experience persistent sleep problems after a divorce stand to suffer from more than just dark circles. They might also be at risk for potentially harmful increases in blood pressure, a new study finds.

    A growing body of research links divorce to significant negative health effects and even early death, yet few studies have looked at why that connection may exist.

    Divorce-related sleep troubles may be partly to blame, suggest the authors of a new study to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Health Psychology.

  • A fishing expedition of microscopic proportions led by University of Arizona ecologists revealed that the lines between virus types in nature are less blurred than previously thought.

    Using lab-cultured bacteria as "bait," a team of scientists led by Matthew Sullivan has sequenced complete and partial genomes of about 10 million viruses from an ocean water sample in a single experiment.

    The study, published online Monday by the journal Nature, revealed that the genomes of viruses in natural ecosystems fall into more distinct categories than previously thought. This enables scientists to recognize actual populations of viruses in nature for the first time.

  • In mid-September of 2013, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced $4.5 million in grants to launch the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at universities around the country, including a $1.5 million grant to the University of Florida for a partnership with institutions across the U.S., including the University of Arizona.

    At the University of Arizona, the program is located in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and led by William Mannan, Professor and Chair, Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program, as well as Scott Bonar, Unit Leader of the Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Associate Professor in the Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program.

  • Thandi Mweetwa, graduate student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Natural Resources and the Environment, has received the Russell Train Fellowship award from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for her conservation work in Africa.

    Mweetwa began research on lion populations in Zambia when she started graduate school at the University of Arizona in January 2014. Her research, titled “African lion demography across two critical populations in Zambia,” is performed under the advisement of Dave Christianson, assistant professor for Wildlife Conservation and Management.

  • Since October, we've had very low precipitation – averaging less than half of average across large portions of the state – accompanied by low snowpack and temperatures that have been well above average.

    The combination of these factors, along with bursts of dry winds that are typical for the spring, gives us conditions of above-normal fire potential, which is what the Southwest Coordination Center, the main fire prediction center for our region, predicted beginning in late January.

  • A setback this spring for the proposed Veterinary Medical & Surgical Program at the University of Arizona has forced program leaders to rethink their strategy.

    Nearly two years have passed since word first came of a veterinary program at the state’s only land-grant university. The university’s board of regents voted Sept. 27, 2012, to ask the state legislature to authorize $3 million for planning and staging of a veterinary program in Tucson. University officials subsequently asked the state legislature for a more modest $250,000 state appropriation for the initial study in spring 2013. The proposal went to Gov. Janice K. Brewer for her signature, but she did not include it in her 2013-2014 budget request. 

  • Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators.

    In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers have found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers.

    When the calories from one feeding off a flower fuels only 15 minutes of flight, as is the case with the tobacco hornworm moth studied, being misled costs a pollinator energy and time.