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Birds and ice worms published in Ecology!

Glaciers support diverse, thriving ecosystems dominated by microbial life. However, in some cases, glaciers also support larger organisms like the glacier ice worm, Mesenchytraeus solifugus, in the Pacific Northwest. In this study, we detail a close connection between Gray-crowned rosy finches, one of the highest elevation nesting birds in the world and ice worms. Rosy-finches heavily feed on ice worms during a key reproductive time period. This raises an important, broad question: how important are macroinvertebrates living on glaciers to terrestrial food webs around the world?

Scott Hotaling publishes ecological stoichiometry paper in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution!

Permanent ice cover by glaciers and snowfields is a dominant physical force in mountain ecosystems. From an ecological perspective, constant ice cover places harsh controls on life including cold temperature, limited nutrient availability, and often prolonged darkness due to snow cover for much of the year. Despite these limitations, glaciers, and perennial snowfields support diverse, primarily microbial communities. In a new review, postdoc in the lab Scott Hotaling and colleagues we synthesize existing knowledge of ecological stoichiometry, nutrient availability, and food webs in the mountain cryosphere (specifically glaciers and perennial snowfields).

Ren, Z.*, Martyniuk, N.*, Oleksy, I.A.*, Swain, A.*, & Hotaling, S.† (2019) Ecological stoichiometry of the mountain cryosphere. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7:360. *co-first author; †corresponding author



Brown bear hibernation paper

Thrilled that our paper on gene expression changes in brown bears during hibernation is out today in @CommsBio with co-authors Shawn Trojahn, Heiko Jansen, Omar Cornejo, Charlie Robbins, and others.  #WSUbears A link to the article is here:


Alex Fraik at NOAA

Graduate student Alex Fraik started her 6 month NSF funded internship with Krista Nichols at NOAA. While most of her project will be analyzing existing datasets on fish before and after dam removal, she had a chance to participate in some fieldwork.

NHGRI Comparative Genomics Workshop

Joanna Kelley presented at the NHGRI Comparative Genomics Workshop in Bethesda, MD. It was a fantastic event bringing together ~115 genome biologists from around the country to discuss comparative genomics and the NHGRI strategic plan as it relates to comparative genomics. The schedule of speakers is here:

You can view Joanna’s talk here:

You can view the moderated discussion here:


Long-distance dispersal of ice worms

Our paper on the genetics of glacier ice worms, which shows long-distance dispersal of ice worms is out today! The paper is in  Proceedings of the Royal Society B! Birds eating ice worms may drive passive long-distance dispersal! Below is the first ever photographic proof of it, which postdoc Scott Hotaling took on Monday!

There is also a great write-up in the WSU Insider: