Rot at the Corvallis Science Pub

November 9, 2015

6:00PM – 7:30PM

We’ll be infusing art into the science pub! Come have a beer with me, ecologist Mark Harmon and artists Andries Fourier Bob Keefer and David Paul Bayles.

We may value forests most for timber, wildlife and scenic beauty, but the real treasure may lie largely hidden in the soil. It’s there among the insects, fungi and other ground-dwelling organisms that tree growth is fostered and maintained through the rot and recycling of dead trees.

Speakers at the November 9 Corvallis Science Pub will combine the science of tree decomposition with the creative vision of artists who explore the life that emerges from trees after they die. Mark Harmon, professor and holder of the Richardson Chair in Forest Science at Oregon State University, will present the results of nearly 30 years of decomposition research at the H.J. Andrews Forest in the Cascades east of Eugene.

Four artists — Leah Wilson, Bob Keefer, David Bayles and Andries Fourier — will discuss their efforts to understand the life of dead trees through the visual arts. They are all participating in a project, The Afterlife of Trees, organized by the Corvallis Arts Center in partnership with the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word at Oregon State. The show is scheduled to run at the Arts Center from January 15 to February 25.

“In many cases, dead trees are more alive than living ones,” said Harmon. “Dead trees are used by almost every group of major organisms in forests — plants, animals, microbes, protozoans and lichens. Dead trees are involved in all the processes that influence how forests grow and change their biomass as well as water flow and the formation and movement of soil.

“We need to make informed decisions about dead trees,” Harmon added. “In the past, we have not, and it has been costly economically and ecologically.”

By looking at dead trees through the eyes of science and art, the speakers hope to deepen understanding of forest ecosystems and suggest analogies to the human condition.

The Science Pub presentation is free and open to the public. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis. Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Held on the second Monday of the month, 6 to 8 p.m. in the Old World Deli, 341 2nd St. in Corvallis, Science Pub is sponsored by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Downtown Corvallis Association and Terra magazine at  Oregon State University.

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