CRITICAL AQUIFER, TROUT IN THE CLASSROOM, GRIZZLIE
The Ogallala Aquifer underneath the Great Plains and grizzly bears in Yellowstone are showcased.
Underneath the Great Plains, the Ogallala Aquifer holds a vast expanse of prehistoric water reserves, a vital source of moisture and a key asset for America's agricultural economy. But the Ogallala is now threatened by overuse in places like the Texas Panhandle, where farmers and ranchers now work with advisers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to find ways to maximize their efficiency in irrigation and protect their water for future generations. Students in the Sierras in California help to restore threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout by raising the fish from eggs and releasing them in an approved trout stream; in the process, they learn about the life cycle of the fish, its value as a native species in the local ecosystem, and how invasive fish are crowding it out of its habitat. Students also learn how to monitor water quality and raise awareness about protecting native trout streams. In the Yellowstone Ecosystem, grizzly bears have made a dramatic recovery since they were federally listed in 1975 as a threatened species in the lower 48 states, increasing from 146 bears at that time to at least 602 in 2010. Grizzlies have reoccupied areas where they had been absent for decades, and are now considered to be at ecological carrying capacity with subadults emigrating to areas outside Yellowstone National Park. In a partnership production with Wyoming's Game and Fish Department, this success story is described by leading bear experts. Just how do dragonflies pull off complex aerial feats, hunting and reproducing in midair? These four-winged insects pre-date dinosaurs and can fly straight up, straight down, or hover like helicopters. Researchers are getting some inspiration from these insects to improve small- scale aircraft design.