1. Win free parking for a year!
2. Research: Warming trends bring earlier migrating Ruby-throats; will flowers and small insects stay in sync?
3. Parking and Transportation: commitment to sustainability brings efficiencies to campus
4. Seeking teams for $100K ACC clean energy challenge
5. Pass it on: Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership opportunities for your students
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An almost forgotten, overstuffed file cabinet together with weather station thermometers that had been running since the 1880s, exposed the reality of migrating ruby-throats and the mystery of what they might find in the spring welcome-mat of flowers and small insects.
Warming temperatures have brought earlier flowers, insects, and migratory birds in some places, but the timings vary because different organisms respond to different environmental cues. Local temperatures may be a key factor for some plants and insects but migratory birds are influenced by photoperiod (length of daylight) and conditions where they winter and migrate. One question is how the timing fits together for birds and the services they provide such as pollination or pest insect suppression.
Jason Courter and others evaluated the timing of spring migrations for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds using about 40,000 observations reported by networks of “citizen science” volunteers who contributed from across the eastern U.S where the birds are found. Enter the shabby old file cabinet with historical first-arrival dates (1880–1969), which the North American Bird Phenology Program recognized as a scientific fortune in historical, hand-written, post-card records. More recent arrival dates (2001–2010) came from Journey North, hummingbird.net, and an army of present-day citizen scientists who report their observations each year. The large number of observations allowed comparisons of historical to current arrivals from southern to northern portions of the U.S.
Hummingbirds inspire and fascinate us. They also pollinate about 19 species of plants and consume small insects and spiders. Although weighing only 3-4 grams (less than a nickel), ruby-throats migrate from wintering grounds in Central America to breeding areas in eastern North America, typically flying across the Gulf of Mexico each way.
The research found that Ruby-throats arrived earlier in the more recent period throughout the eastern United States but these advances varied by latitude from 11.4 to 18.2 days, with less pronounced changes in more northern states above about 41°N. At mid to southern locations in their North American breeding grounds, warmer winter and spring temperatures correlated with earlier arrivals in the more recent period. Surprisingly, warmer winters and springs at more northern latitudes correlated with later arrivals in relation to conditions. This fascinating result may indicate extended migratory stopovers below about 40°N during these years. Moreover, ruby-throats seem to be responding more to local weather variables during migration in the recent than in the historical period.
The reason for the delay below about 41 N is unclear but may relate to food or foraging opportunities or effects of winter or spring temperatures on plants or other organisms that ruby-throats rely on. For example, we know that some plants, such as our South Carolina peaches, respond best in spring if they have sufficient winter cold to meet dormancy requirements. Some plants that ruby-throats need may also have winter dormancy requirements. Hummingbirds may also have an innate reluctance to venture into more northern areas too early, even though conditions seem suitable, because unexpected northern cold fronts could affect their survival.
The finding of relatively later arrivals in northern areas when winter and spring conditions were actually warmer, signals potential for mismatches between ruby-throats and the flowers or small insects that they rely on. These results also raise questions about other bird species, especially long-distance migrants, and whether climate trends might over time affect pollination or insect pest suppression services.
We are indebted to the early naturalists who recorded migratory bird arrivals onto cards and sent each one through the mail, eventually to reach that old file cabinet. We are also grateful for today’s observers or citizen scientists who report similar observations unfailingly each year, typically with a computer. The foresight of so many people is becoming a database that will hold stories to come of birds in a changing world.
You might have heard about the widely publicized “Bendy Bus,” Clemson Area Transit’s (CAT) new articulated bus that’s the first of its kind in the state. With many of its parts made right here in South Carolina, this American-made vehicle has been widely lauded for its ability to carry 56 percent more riders than our current 40-foot buses, save an average of 18 percent on gas and reduce the congestion along the overcrowded Red Route, which runs between Clemson and Central. No doubt that the bus will contribute to efforts toward sustainability both on and off campus.
But CAT isn’t the only agency interested in sustainability. Clemson’s own Parking and Transportation Services team also has its eye turned toward sustainability and continues to introduce strategies to reduce the carbon footprint on campus.
“We’re charged with reducing demand for vehicles on campus,” said Dan Hofmann, director of Parking and Transportation Services. “The key to our success is improving the transit system. We need to provide more of a convenience to attract riders to buses.”
Toward that end, Hofmann and his team are researching the possible use of a special reduced-price parking placard where drivers can park in a special off-campus area and bike the rest of the way to work.
“We’re going to roll out a pilot program during Sustainability Week where drivers can park at the Campus Beach and use their bikes after that. There is a bike lane that leads from the beach directly to campus,” Hofmann said. “As part of the program, we’ll distribute passes that drivers can use during inclement weather days.”
Along with reducing the carbon footprint, Parking and Transportation Services is charged with enhancing efficiencies in other areas that contribute to sustainability.
To further reduce carbon emissions, Clemson invested in LED lighting in R-4 parking lot near the Lightsey Bridge apartments. The lighting was fully installed in September and is already realizing some good savings.
The LEDs are controlled remotely, and officials are able to adjust the lighting levels as needed. In fact, during Spring Break, Hofmann’s team reduced the use of lighting from 29 to 13 units and ran the remaining units at 50 percent.
“Because students were off campus, we were able to customize our campus lighting to reduce usage,” said Kat Moreland, senior associate director of Parking and Transportation Services. “It’s the same concept as turning down the lights when you leave the room. You save energy and create efficiency.”
Parking and Transportation Services will continue its use of the lighting and will install LED lights at Sirrine Hall’s (E-4) parking lot as part of a summer paving project.
Wasting a lot of gas searching for an open parking meter? Try downloading the Parker app (streetline.com/find-parking/parker-mobile). Available for both iPhone and Android users, this app gives information on open parking spaces and offers drivers step-by-step directions on how to locate those spots. For safety, these directions are available with voice guidance. The app also shares profile information about each lot including parking space types, pricing and payment options.
“As part of a pilot program, we’ve contracted with Streetline, the makers of the Parker app, which is active in the Hendrix Student Center lot at this point,” said Hofmann. “But because of its success, we have plans to expand the Parker system to all metered spaces on campus.”
The parking meter that can communicate
Not too many people would look at a parking meter in awe. But new back-end technology has made parking meters more interesting, even … cool. Parking and Transportation Services has teamed with Parkeon, which offers the myParkfolio Web-based application to monitor campus parking meters.
Using a dashboard, myParkfolio gives Hofmann’s team real-time information on all parking meters. If they malfunction, are low on parking receipt paper, or need to be emptied, Hofmann’s team knows about it immediately and can perform targeted maintenance quicker and more efficiently.
“It used to take our team four hours per day to go to 125 meters three times each week,” explained Hofmann. “This new system helps us reduce emissions and lower labor costs. We’re using technology to enhance sustainability.”
An end result is smarter costs. Hofmann’s team knows that the more money you save, the more can be invested in other efficiencies. And through these efforts, energy is being saved and costs are being reduced toward the development and maintenance of a sustainable campus for faculty, staff, students and the community.
“It boils down to dollars and cents,” said Hofmann. “We’re the pass-through, so it’s incumbent upon us to be fiscal watchdogs and be good stewards of the University’s money.”
Clemson University teams are being sought for the $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge, supported by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Teams must submit a business plan with commercialization potential in the clean energy space, including projects related to renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements and advanced fuels/vehicles.
Undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and industry personnel can participate on a team.
The winning Clemson University team will advance to the final round April 8-9 at North Carolina State University (NCSU).
The overall winner of the ACC Clean Energy competition will receive a $100,000 prize and compete this summer in the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan finals in Washington, D.C.
Visit www.accnrg.org for much more information about rules, deadlines, etc. and to enter your team.
Should you decide to enter your team, or if you have questions, contact Douglas Hirt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 656-0822.
Do you know a student who has made a positive difference socially or environmentally? Encourage them to enter Social LaunchPad by March 1st and they could be eligible for $5,000 in prizes!
All Clemson students can apply for SocialLaunchPad! All they have to do is create a three-slide presentation about the problem they saw, the solution they created and the impact their action had on the problem. Click here for details and guidelines.
Clemson Student Entrepreneur of the Year
Do you know a student-entrepreneur? Here’s the chance for them to be recognized for their hard work and ingenuity. Students should apply by March 1 for a chance to win up to $1,000 and be recognized at the 2013 Celebration of Clemson Alumni Entrepreneurs! Click here for more information and to download an application.