Series

The Yahara River is relatively short in length and small in volume, but it plays an outsized role in Wisconsin given its location and status as the subject of detailed scientific research. A tributary of the Rock River, which in turn flows into the Mississippi, the Yahara is defined by the chain of lakes that are home to Madison and its suburbs, which are growing rapidly. Dominated for many decades by agriculture, the watershed drained by the river is increasingly becoming urbanized as its population increases. The region's water faces challenges in terms of quality and quantity that development and climate change are intensifying over the long term. University of Wisconsin scientists have long studied the lakes and how the surrounding landscape affects their condition, establishing the watershed and Madison area as a model for better understanding interactions between cities and the natural world around them.More
Ticks are a familiar nuisance around Wisconsin, but they also pose a growing health risk to the humans they feed on, exposing them to disease-causing pathogens. Deer ticks have spread across much of the state in recent decades, feeding on wildlife along with people and their pets. These ticks transmit Lyme disease, and the state is facing a persistently high rate of infection. Ticks spread other illnesses as well. Entomologists and public health researchers are investigating the relationship between ticks, their hosts and the surrounding environment, but continue to emphasize prevention as the best way to reduce infections.More
Energy is an essential necessity of human life that powers individual everyday needs and the economy as a whole. Its sources span millenia, from draft animals and wood to coal and oil to nuclear fission. Advancing technology continues to transform energy production, and renewable sources like solar, wind and biofuels are increasingly used. A growing number of homeowners, businesses and communities across Wisconsin are considering renewables as part of their own energy portfolios. The backdrop of a changing climate is one motivation for these shifts, as are changing consumer demand, investment opportunities and public policy incentives. As the state's energy landscape adapts to meet new opportunities, researchers are investigating the potential of renewables and evaluating challenges to pursuing sustainable and secure sources.More
The pursuit of knowledge about Wisconsin's flora and fauna is not just the province of professional researchers. Public participation in science has woven itself into Wisconsin's history of naturalism and conservation, an important complement to work in the state's research universities and regulatory agencies. People around the state have volunteered their time to help with everything from monitoring invasive insect pests to observing Wisconsin's bat and bird populations. People who participate in citizen or civic science have the opportunity to develop a closer connection with the natural world, and a chance to develop greater understanding of and consensus around environmental issues. Wisconsinites who aren't scientists in their daily lives also can and do undertake all sorts of projects to help address environmental challenges, from building rain gardens to fostering habitat for monarch butterflies.More
Nearly everything about wolves is controversial. Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states with a gray wolf population. After being hunted to the brink of extinction in most states, the state granted the species legal protections in the 1950s, followed by federal listing in the 1970s. Since then, wolf numbers have not only recovered, but they've seen a relative boom in population. These predators play a big role in their ecosystem by feeding on deer and other prey, but their hunts also cross paths with livestock, causing grievances among ranchers and farmers. A hunting season was briefly opened in the early 2010s, and there is plenty of other proposed legislation surrounding their management. Wolves also claim strong support among advocates for continued protection. Whatever policies are in place, this charismatic species drives public passion and scientific interest.More