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Saturday,October 8, 2016

Jackson Hole Center For the Arts, 265 S Cache St, Jackson, WY 83001

Saturday University is a collaborative program connecting popular UW professors with Wyoming residents who have a desire to learn.  Saturday University is sponsored by the University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming Foundation and thinkWY|Wyoming Humanities. The program is presented locally by Wyoming Humanities Jackson Office, Central Wyoming College, National Museum of Wildlife Art and Jackson Hole WILD Festival.

 Flight of the alpine bumblebee in cold, thin air

 Michael Dillon - Associate Professor of Zoology & Physiology, University of Wyoming

The challenges of high altitude to human mountaineers are widely appreciated. Reduced available oxygen (“hypoxia”) makes it tough to breath, such that most climbers require supplemental oxygen to summit the highest peaks. And bitterly cold temperatures can penetrate even the fanciest of outdoor gear. Imagine, then, the challenges faced by animals living in these extreme environments without supplemental oxygen or technical gear! Small flying insects have the highest oxygen demand of any organism, but their ability to acquire and use oxygen may be severely compromised by both hypoxia and cold temperatures. Compounding the problem further, flapping wings produce less lift at altitude because air density is low. Despite these challenges, bumble bees are abundant and diverse at high elevations (> 17,000 ft), presenting a compelling physiological paradox: how do bumblebees flourish at high altitude despite the compounding physiological challenges of limited O2, cold temperatures, and reduced aerodynamic lift? In this talk, I'll discuss my ongoing work that attempts to address this paradox.

The Ecological Impacts of Our Plastic Footprint: Microplastics in Aquatic Environments

Kirsten Kapp - Professor of Biology and Math, Central Wyoming College

Humans have enjoyed the benefits of plastic for over a century. So much so that global plastic production increased 38% between 2004 and 2014. Yet there are costs to our love affair with plastic. Kapp will explain why plastics constitute an environmental contaminant and why leading scientists continue to express concern over this serious yet largely unnoticed environmental problem. Kapp and her students research the presence of microplastics in the Snake River Watershed and her talk will highlight the science on microplastics and their local impact.  

When the planet warms up will social relationships cool down? A furry tail

Merav Ben-David - Professor of Zoology & Physiology, University of Wyoming

Coastal river otters (Lontra canadensis) exhibit an unusual social organization with higher sociality among males. Telemetry tracking, captive observations, and individual-based modeling revealed that otter sociality is largely driven by cooperative foraging on schooling pelagic fishes that are seasonally available in the nearshore environment. Climate-change induced increases in ocean temperatures diminish the availability of these fishes, leading to declines in otter abundance and sociality. By foraging in the sea and depositing urine and feces on land for scent communication social individuals fertilize the terrestrial vegetation along the coast. Declines in otter abundance and sociality will reduce community diversity, resilience, and carbon sequestration capacity of Alaska’s coastal forests.


We invite you to stay after Saturday U to enjoy the  WILD Festival which takes place every fall in Jackson Hole. This year, the Festival will have a SCIENCE theme, immersing you into the world of science through listening, feeling, touching, tasting and discovery! 
Join us as we celebrate the wonders of everyday science, where all ages can explore our world and test the boundaries of discovery. Science is integrated in virtually every aspect of our lives, which will be showcased by our own community of science, engineering, and technology innovators. 


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