University of Pittsburgh
July 29, 2010

Pitt Researchers Help Tout City’s Eco Restoration and Research to Global Audience During Aug. 1-6 International Ecology Conference

Pitt faculty and students will present their research and lead a tour of Pittsburgh’s rehabilitated urban ecosystems during the 95th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Once notorious for its tortured ecosystem, Pittsburgh will serve as a model of urban environmental restoration and ecology research for ecologists and environmental scientists from around the world during the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) 95th Annual Meeting August 1-6 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

As part of the conference, the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will exhibit some of Pittsburgh’s restored natural systems during an August 1 tour that examines the successes and challenges inherent in rehabilitating such urban ecosystems as Nine Mile Run. In addition, Pitt faculty and students will present their research—in areas ranging from how automobile emissions infiltrate water systems to the mating habits of freshwater crustaceans—at the convention center throughout the week. Media are invited to attend the tour and the research presentations. More information on the conference is available on the ESA’s Web site.

Pitt assistant professor Dan Bain, of the Department of Geology and Planetary Science in the School of Arts and Sciences, will lead the tour with Bryan Dolney of the Parks Conservancy starting from the convention center at 1 p.m. The first stop is Schenley Park’s formerly weed-choked Panther Hollow Lake to discuss the ongoing effort to make the lake suitable for swimming, boating, and supporting fish. The group also will visit nearby Four Mile Run in the Greenfield neighborhood to explore the city’s water management strategies, including the proposed effort to bring the now-buried Four Mile Run stream above ground again.

The tour culminates with a walk along the restored Nine Mile Run beginning around 3 p.m. at Duck Hollow along the Monongahela River and continuing upstream into Frick Park. The $7.7 million restoration of Nine Mile Run converted a heavily polluted area once used as a slag dump into a recreation area and revitalized marsh. Bain and his students helped monitor environmental quality throughout the project and continue to do so. More details about the tour are available on the conference Web site.

During the conference, Pitt faculty and students will present their research on various topics, including environmental restoration, the effect of toxins in the ecosystem, and factors promoting climate change.

The presentations include Pitt projects that have a earned national and international notice such as the decade-long investigation of the impact of pesticides on amphibians—and possibly humans—by Pitt biological sciences professor Rick Relyea; and Pitt geology and planetary sciences professor Emily Elliott’s findings that nitrogen oxides—the noxious byproduct of burning fossil fuels—taint waterways and urban water supplies more than scientists and regulators realize.

A full list of Pitt presentations is available on Pitt’s Web site.