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Two species of ravens nevermore? New research finds evidence of ‘speciation reversal’

Two ravens sitting on a tree branch.

For over a century, speciation — where one species splits into two — has been a central focus of evolutionary research. But a new study almost 20 years in the making suggests “speciation reversal” — where two distinct lineages hybridize and eventually merge into one — can also be extremely important. The paper, appearing March 2 in Nature Communications, provides some of the strongest evidence yet of the phenomenon in two lineages of common ravens. 

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Three UW Innovation Awards given to UW Environment faculty

College of the Environment faculty received all three of the University of Washington’s Innovation Awards for 2018. The awards are designed to stimulate innovation among faculty from a range of disciplines and to reward some of their most novel ideas, and are made possible by generous donors. Knut Christianson and Michelle Koutnik from the Earth and Space Sciences, along with David Shean from Civil and Environmental Engineering, were awarded $300,000 over two years to “build a digital glacier time machine” that will generate a high-resolution, 3-D time series of how glaciers have changed over time to help understand the future of water resources in the western United States. 

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Aquatic and Fishery Sciences' Chelsea Wood awarded Sloan Fellowship

Aquatic and Fishery Sciences' Chelsea Wood

Chelsea Wood, an assistant professor of aquatic and fishery sciences, is among five faculty members across the University of Washington that have been awarded early-career fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Announced on Feb. 15, Sloan Fellowships are open to scholars in eight scientific and technical fields — chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics — and honor those early-career researchers whose achievements mark them as the next generation of scientific leaders. 

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Simple rules can help fishery managers cope with ecological complexity

Schooling herring, one of the fisheries studied in this analysis.

To successfully manage fisheries, factors in the environment that affect fish — like food sources, predators and habitat — should be considered as part of a holistic management plan. That approach is gaining traction in fisheries management, but there has been no broad-scale evaluation of whether considering these ecosystem factors makes any economic sense for the commercial fishing industry. A team of ecologists and economists has addressed that question in the first study to test whether real-life ecological interactions produce economic benefits for the fishing industry. 

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Small hydroelectric dams increase globally with little research, regulations

Small dam with water flowing over its edge into shallow, rocky pond.

Hydropower dams may conjure images of the massive Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state or the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei, China. But not all dams are the stuff of documentaries. Tens of thousands of smaller hydroelectric dams exist around the world, and all indications suggest that the number could substantially increase in the future. These structures are small enough to avoid the numerous regulations large dams face and are built more quickly and in much higher densities. 

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