Children in an Adi village. (Photo: Anirban Datta-Roy)

Forests, Weeds and Farms: Shifting Cultivation in the Eastern Himalaya

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View from a shifting farm. (Photo: Anirban Datta-Roy)

Karthik Teegalapalli is a graduate research scholar with the Nature Conservation Foundation in India. As part of NCF’s Eastern Himalaya Program, he is studying forest recovery following shifting cultivation in the Upper Siang district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, in the Eastern Himalaya. He is currently visiting the US as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Virginia. He will share insights from his work as described in this synopsis he has provided:
Shifting cultivation, a form of forest farming in which the land under cultivation is often rotated annually, is a predominant mode of subsistence agriculture in the hilly tropics. The practice involves felling of forests for temporary cultivation; therefore, it is blamed for causing deforestation, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and for contributing to global climate change. Nevertheless, some argue that shifting cultivation is the only viable agricultural practice in parts of the hilly tropics. They also consider the practice ecologically and culturally appropriate and, under certain conditions, the best means of retaining biodiversity in the landscape. Monoculture plantations, pastures, large-scale permanent agriculture, logging for timber, oil-palm plantations and other such economic activities have all been shown to affect a landscape in more destructive ways than shifting cultivation.
In north-east India, where the practice is widespread among diverse tribal communities, increasing human population density and forest loss have resulted in short fallow cycles (4-5 years is the period between two cultivation cycles) and arrested succession in many areas, often due to invasion by exotic weedy species. To understand vegetation recovery following shifting cultivation and to document the practice in relatively more ideal conditions, I undertook my research in a study site where the practice is undertaken systematically with relatively long fallow periods in a landscape with primary and secondary forests. The specific objectives of my research were: 1) to understand the diversity of the shifting cultivation practice of the Adi community in selected villages, 2) to understand the patterns and processes of vegetation recovery following shifting cultivation, 3) to inspect factors that affect the spread of Mikania micrantha, an invasive climber species in the landscape. In my talk, I will be presenting the results of this research that was undertaken over the last four years.
Children in an Adi village. (Photo: Anirban Datta-Roy)

Children in an Adi village. (Photo: Anirban Datta-Roy)

When: Monday, 5 January 2015, 7:00 PM

Where:  Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact:  559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family:

Caves as Recorders of Natural History – Spelean Tales from the Underworld

This December, join us for an exploration of the underground realm, when geologist and caver John Tinsley takes us into the realm of caves, with tales from California, Missouri, Tennessee, and Indiana.

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Caves record a region’s natural history in multiple and fascinating ways. Solution caves as physical systems will be a recurring theme this evening. Records of changing climates, paleo-temperatures, rainfall, earthquakes, glaciations, the hydrology and sedimentology of ebb-and-flow springs, and paleontology are contained in caves and are amenable to scientific study. Caves are one of the few places remaining on earth, except the oceans, where explorers can quickly go where no human has gone before. This evening’s presentation recounts a potpourri of relatively recent findings from Sierran caves that inform us of aspects of the natural history of the Sierra Nevada and summarize ongoing efforts to discern the paleoseismology of the major central and eastern US seismic zones, where damaging earthquakes occur so rarely that seismic building codes generally are ignored. 

John C. Tinsley is a Scientist Emeritus presently volunteering with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park, California.  He is trained in the sedimentology of sedimentary basins and specializes in the discipline of Quaternary stratigraphy, mainly as applied to evaluating and mapping regional earthquake hazards, including recency of fault movement, earthquake-triggered liquefaction, landslides, and relative intensity of ground shaking. Tinsley also has led an underground existence exploring and studying caves since 1964. In California, since 1976, most of his cave studies have been conducted under the banner of a non-profit corporation, the Cave Research Foundation (CRF) at nearby Lilburn Cave in Redwood Canyon or at Lava Beds National Monument (LABE) in northern California.  He served on the CRF Board of Directors from 1983-1998 and managed the CRF Karst Fellowship Program; from 1983-2014, he managed CRF’s operations at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. He presently manages CRF’s operations at LABE. Tinsley retired early in 2013 after more than 40 years of conducting earth science in the public service at the USGS. He is the author or co-author of >100 publications in the earth sciences. He conducts paleoseismic studies of caves in the central and eastern United States to discern and date past major earthquakes associated with the New Madrid seismic zone, the Wabash seismic zone, and the East Tennessee seismic zone. 

When: Monday, 1 December 2014, 7:00 PM

Where:  Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact:  559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family:

Particle Fever: a conversation with Fresno State physicists who participated in the hunt for the Higgs-Boson

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Have heard about the Large Hadron Collider? Do you know about the Higgs-Boson particle? And the Nobel Prize winning theory of the Higgs field which gives mass to elementary particles? If you’ve been intrigued by any of these, you are in for a treat at our next event.

This November, join us for a special event: an evening with a panel of physicists from the Physics department at California State University, Fresno, who were involved in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, which confirmed the existence of the Higgs-Boson particle. This will be a mixed media event, where we will see excerpts from the movie “Particle Feverwhich movingly retells the story of the Large Hadron Collider, and why it has had everyone in the physics world excited in recent years. The film gives us a ringside seat to watch a remarkable scientific experiment unfold. Dr. Yongsheng Gao was actually inside the ring, participating in the experiment, along with postdoctoral scholar Dr. Harinder Bawa, and students from the Physics department! Dr. Gao and colleagues will show us parts of the film and share their own insights from the ATLAS project.

Here’s a trailer for Particle Fever:

Since showing the entire film + panel discussion will put us well over our usual 60-90 min Café evening, we have arranged a special showing of the film at Peeve’s Pub on the preceding Sunday (2 Nov 2014) afternoon. Come hang out at the pub to watch the movie first, and then come back for the panel discussion the next evening after you’ve had a chance to digest some of the content of the film. You can also watch the film online on Netflix or iTunes. As mentioned above, we will also show some key excerpts of the film before the panel discussion, in case you are unable to see the whole film. So watching the film is basically like optional extra-credit homework which will help you get more out of the panel discussion, but is not absolutely necessary to participate!

When: Monday, 3 November 2014, 7:00 PM (panel discussion); Sunday, 20 Nov 2014, 4:00 PM – film screening.

Where:  Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact:  559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family: