Ant-Eating Bears Help Plants

by Matthew Roby

According to Dr. Grinath, ants can compose as much as one-third of a black bear’s diet in mountain meadow ecosystems.

Josh Grinath, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Community and Global Change Ecology at Idaho State University who studies global change impacts on ecosystems, spoke recently  for the University of Arizona School Of Natural Resources and the Environment seminar series held weekly in the Environment and Natural Resources – 2 building.

The bearded, first-generation college graduate from Maryland looks like an ecologist. He wears a plaid shirt and hiking pants with zippered pockets. Grinath’s research reveals the complex interplay among organisms. By studying connections between bears, insects and plants in a mountain meadow, he found that ant predation by bears can benefit plant reproduction by increasing seed growth. To understand this link you need to follow a cascade of species interactions.

In a mountain meadow ecosystem in Almont, Colorado, the population of treehoppers—tiny insects that feast on sap plants use for growth—is controlled by lady beetles. Predation by lady beetles limits how much sap treehoppers mine from plants. However, this interaction is modified by a synergetic relationship between ants and treehoppers.

Ants protect treehoppers from predation by lady beetles in exchange for a sweet liquid derived from plant sap that treehoppers secrete. Grinath found that when bears eat ants, more lady beetles are free to eat treehoppers. Fewer treehoppers means less sap loss, leaving plants with more nutrients to grow seeds.

“The bears were a surprise for me,” said Grinath, who noticed bear-damaged ant nests at his research site. By comparing plants near damaged nests with those near intact nests, Grinath had a natural experiment to ask how bears modify the relationship between plants and insects.

“Josh opens the black box,” said Yue “Max” Li, a Conservation Research Scientist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Whereas most studies examine the net outcome, this work reveals the “internal mechanisms of interplay” that help us “pinpoint the direct and indirect effects of each player in the system,” said Li.

Studying multiple species interactions can help us understand global change impacts on whole ecosystems, said Grinath.

“Ecology is highly context dependent,” and by studying plants, herbivores and predators together—instead of in isolation—we can better understand that context and estimate global change impacts on real systems.

Now he is asking if humans modify this interplay. By adding small amounts of fertilizer to experimental plots, Grinath can test if mountain meadow ecosystems respond to the settling of excess airborne nitrogen linked to human activities.

Adding nitrogen appeared to make plants less responsive to ant predation by bears. Grinath suspects that plants used the extra nitrogen to grow faster and produce insect-defense chemicals.

This work helps “unravel how complicated the environment is” and highlights why “preserving as much as we can is important,” said seminar attendee Sierra Lauman, a graduate student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Lauman said research results depend on study timing, location and scale. Whereas nitrogen addition benefits plant growth in the short term, large-scale nitrogen application can favor invasive species that exploit nutrients and outcompete native plants, Lauman said.

Grinath said long-term monitoring can help detect trends amid these complexities.

“Ecology is inherently messy,” said Grinath. But complexity is not an excuse to ignore the effects of global change on ecosystems. Even if we don’t understand the complete picture, we can still make informed conservation decisions, Grinath said.

Adding nitrogen appeared to make plants less responsive to ant predation by bears. Grinath suspects that
plants used the extra nitrogen to grow faster and produce insect-defense chemicals.
This work helps “unravel how complicated the environment is” and highlights why “preserving as much
as we can is important,” said seminar attendee Sierra Lauman, a graduate student in the School of Natural
Resources and the Environment. Lauman said research results depend on study timing, location and scale.
Whereas nitrogen addition benefits plant growth in the short term, large-scale nitrogen application can
favor invasive species that exploit nutrients and outcompete native plants, Lauman said.
Grinath said long-term monitoring can help detect trends amid these complexities.
“Ecology is inherently messy,” said Grinath. But complexity is not an excuse to ignore the effects of
global change on ecosystems. Even if we don’t understand the complete picture, we can still make
informed conservation decisions, Grinath said.

Anthropogenic Sources Stimulate Resonance of a Natural Rock Bridge

 

Rainbow Bridge in Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah. Photo courtesy of U.S.G.S.

by Denise Meeks

 Rainbow Bridge is a spectacular geologic wonder. And, like many of the bridges and arches in Utah, it has been singing for hundreds of millions of years. A unique collaboration among geologists, cultural anthropologists and members of Native American tribes gave it a voice that humans can now hear. And Rainbow Bridge has a lot to tell us.

This story began when members of the San Juan and Kaibab tribes, part of the Rainbow Bridge Native American Consultation Committee, contacted the National Park Service.  Concerned about the sound effects that tour helicopters might have on Rainbow Bridge and Utah’s other bridges and arches, tribe members asked the National Park Service to investigate. The task was given to Erik Stanfield, Cultural Resource Technician for the National Park Service at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Stanfield, who has a sense of human relationships with the land, is completing a master’s degree in sociocultural anthropology at Northern Arizona University, where he was about to give a presentation on Rainbow Bridge.

Differences [in how one views the bridge] are based on cultural background. Some look at it scientifically, but local tribe visitors have a different relationship with the land,” Stanfield said. “It speaks to their history and ancestors. It brings out strong positive emotions.”

Stanfield became the advocate for the tribes. He explained that the National Park Service doesn’t have the expertise or resources to evaluate the physical health of Rainbow Bridge, so he contacted University of Utah Geology & Geophysics Associate Professor Jeff Moore, who holds a doctoral degree in civil engineering. Moore is a geologic hazards researcher who began his academic career at the University of Arizona where he earned a Bachelor of Science in geologic engineering. He is an advocate for the health of Utah’s natural structures.

“It’s natural sculptural perfection,” Moore said. “It’s special because it has a perfect, curving, bulky and smooth form. The scale and the sculpture are special. It also bears a resemblance to an inverted catenary arch.”

Moore and his team, including his geology doctoral student Riley Finnegan, were already performing seismic studies of 20 other arches and several towers in Utah, including Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch. Those studies have not yet been published.

Finnegan wanted to engage in research that had an impact on society and our relationship with conservation and the environment, so she joined Moore’s team.

“It’s an incredible landform, it looks perfect,” Finnegan said. “The form that makes it a strong bridge, shaped by nature, [but] society has advanced technologically, [and] we don’t know how technology will affect natural systems in the future and what our impact will be.”

Finnegan now studies anthropogenic effects, vibrations induced by human behavior, technology and man-made structures that affect arches and bridges. Her research analyzes the frequency of the sounds, both those we can and cannot hear, produced by helicopters. Finnegan determined that helicopters can generate very low frequency sounds, between 11 hertz (cycles per second) and 15 hertz that humans can’t hear. These frequencies may shake geological structures.

“[There are] forces that the bridge grew up with rather than what its dealing with now” Moore said. “We have to think about how the forces compare to the normal force that the bridge feels normally just under winds.”

In March 2015, to measure these anthropogenic forces, Moore and his team placed two sensors on the bridge and two nearby on the ground. For 22 hours these sensors listened as the bridge vibrated. The team detected three earthquakes. One was a human-induced earthquake near the Kansas-Oklahoma border.

“The energy that arrived from that earthquake was perfectly tuned to shake Rainbow Bridge at about 1 hertz,” Moore explained. “Rainbow Bridge was perfectly attuned to pick up those vibrations.”

That one event didn’t damage the bridge, but the possible cumulative effect of years of human activity is unknown.

Lake Powell might also damage the bridge. In 1980, Lake Powell, created by the Glen Canyon Dam, filled to its maximum elevation of 3,700 feet. The 40 years that have passed are the blink-of-an-eye compared with the bridge’s 200 million years of harmonious existence with wind and rain.

Moore explained that one of his colleagues analyzed data around lakes all over the world and found that lakes, including Lake Powell, naturally generate seismic energy at 1 hertz, the frequency of the waves moving across a lake surface due to wind. That 1 hertz frequency corresponds perfectly to the natural frequency of Rainbow Bridge, generating continuous, but very small vibrations in the bridge.

“The lake is shaking the bridge,” Moore said.

The team doesn’t have enough data yet to understand long-term effect of Lake Powell on the Bridge.

Rainbow Bridge is more than a fantastic geologic structure. Finnegan explained that the bridge is a sacred site for the tribes at the Four Corners area. Each of the tribes has its own stories and connections to the bridge.

“Anybody who visits Rainbow Bridge will recognize its uniqueness. It provides an inspiring feeling to anyone who goes there,” Finnegan said. “It’s a window the next the world, a way to communicate with ancestors.”

The tribes’ concerns about helicopter noise was the result of lawsuits between the tribes and the federal government in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s based on potential cultural property damage. One outcome of these suits was the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000, requiring air tour operators flying over national parks or tribal lands to apply to the FAA for permission. The Act requires the FAA and the National Park Service to create air tour management plans for parks or tribal lands if tour operators submit applications.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 allowed the FAA and the National Park Service to enter into voluntary agreements with air tour operators instead of developing management plans. The 2012 amendment exempted national parks with 50 or fewer annual tours from the management plan and voluntary agreement requirements.

At Rainbow Bridge, the air tour operators and the National Park Service created voluntary agreements to “give the bridge a rest,” Moore explained.

The team has determined that helicopters are unlikely to damage the bridge because they don’t create the vibrations that are in tune with the bridge’s structure, but they don’t have enough long-term data to be sure.Even though air tours are regulated by the FAA, the National Park Service acted as an advocate for the tribes, who are concerned about preserving their cultural heritage. The National Park Service is also concerned with protection of national geologic treasures, and the FAA is concerned about safety.

“Everybody felt like their voices were heard,” Moore said.

Some members of the research team returned to Rainbow Bridge in 2017 and 2019 to remeasure the Bridge’s natural frequencies. Their data showed that the natural frequencies had not changed since they began their measurements in 2015. Moore said this suggests that there has been no permanent damage to the Bridge during that time, but that they don’t know the long-term effects.

Moore and Finnegan visit schools and give public lectures to help people connect to the Bridge and other natural wonders.

To help the public understand the importance of Rainbow Bridge and other natural bridges and towers, Moore and his colleagues converted the sounds made by the bridges into sounds that humans could hear. They increased the frequency by a factor of 25 and posted it on their public website. Moore played the sounds for 10,000 children at the 2018 STEM Expo. Now we can all hear the arches and bridges sing. We need to listen.

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Congratulations are in order for our colleagues’ many accomplishments!

Many of our colleagues published essays or stories in the Blue Guitar, an online literary magazine sponsored by the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. For more about the Arizona Consortium for the Arts, visit: www.artizona.org

Several of our colleagues published pieces in the Blue Guitar this spring!
http://www.theblueguitarmagazine.org
http://www.theblueguitarmagazine.org/resources/Blue+Guitar+Spring+2020_Enjoy.pdf
http://www.theblueguitarmagazine.org/resources/Blue+Guitar+Spring+2020_Enjoy.pdf
http://www.theblueguitarmagazine.org/resources/Blue+Guitar+Spring+2020_Enjoy.pdf

One of our colleagues, Vianney Cardenas, published several stories this semester in the Arizona Daily, including this story (which she wrote for her internship with the Star) about an important EPA grant.

https://tucson.com/news/local/epa-awards-255k-in-grants-for-environment-health-on-arizona-mexico-border/article_9cc09922-677c-5d0d-942e-0265a97c5a46.html

 

My name is Madison Bigham and I’m a junior at the University of Arizona studying French and Natural Resources with an emphasis in conservation biology. I’m originally from Phoenix, Arizona, but I’ve found a home here in beautiful Tucson. I hope to highlight this city’s wondrous biodiversity through my studies as well as learn more about how to protect it going forward. After I graduate, I plan to continue my studies in a graduate program in the biological sciences. Although I love the hard sciences, I’ve always been interested in environmental journalism and its role in environmentalism. My dream is to work in the realm of conservation, specifically dealing with endangered species, and I hope that my understanding of journalism will help me in my career path. Outside of academia, I enjoy playing tennis, reading mystery novels, and engaging in a low-waste lifestyle.
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My name is Kim Blashak. I’m a 25-year-old part-time student majoring in natural resource management and wildlife conservation. In order to pay the bills I work full time at a retail store fulfilling online orders and shipping them out. I have three pets: two old cats and a senior cockatiel who has been with me since I was three. Animals are my life and I definitely prefer their company more than other people most of the time. Surprisingly it isn’t difficult to keep a small bird and cats at the same time. Both cats are terrified of the scrawny old bird and will instantly back off if he hisses at them. I’m not sure exactly what I’d like to accomplish careerwise at this point, but I do know it will have something to do with trying to protect wildlife. I have a soft spot for apex predators, especially gray wolves. It has always been a dream of mine to observe them in the wild, and I hope I can one day help show the world just how important they are. I would love to spend some time working in Yellowstone so that I might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse into the lives of its most elusive residents. I’m also fascinated with big cats, crocodilians and sharks, though that might just be a side effect of growing up in Florida where rumors were often spread about the illusive Florida Panther, alligators could be found in just about any residential neighborhood and sharks were always being spotted at the beaches (though usually they were just babies). I believe a large part of my love for wildlife came from growing up in a place so rich in species.

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Vianney Cardenas is a 22-year-old Tucson native. She is currently an undergraduate senior at the University of Arizona, double majoring in journalism and Latin American Studies. Cardenas comes from a Mexican-American family and is the middle child out of three. Her favorite time of the year is during the holidays, when her family comes into town and she gets to spend quality time with them. During this time, she cooks homemade food and uses it as a way to bond with her family. During her free time, she likes to watch the news and read about the hot topics impacting her community, country and world. Her favorite pastime is listening to podcasts of all kinds, investigative, horror and (of course) comedy. Cardenas is passionate about journalism and hopes to pursue it past college. While she loves reporting and print journalism, she hopes to move over to digital journalism. She would like to create documentaries about issues that affect people in Latin America. Cardenas is interested in United States politics and government, but has more experience with Latin America government and U.S.-Mexico border issues.

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My name is Jenna Christensen and it is my fourth year in school at the University of Arizona. I am studying environmental science with an emphasis in leadership, sustainability and communication. I currently work at PetSmart and Rover but am looking into possible careers in national park services or conservation law – but I’m keeping my eyes open to everything. For the last four years, I have been in an honorary music and service sorority, Tau Beta Sigma, and in the Pride of Arizona Marching Band. Some things I like for fun are painting, playing video games, hiking, camping, listening to music and attending music festivals.

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Karolina Delgado is an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona studying natural sciences, specifically ecology, management and restoration of rangelands with a minor in Spanish. Delgado was born in Houston, Texas, but moved to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico where her family is from. After elementary school she and her family moved to Arizona where Delgado finished middle school and high school. In high school she her extra-curricular activities included: cheer, dance, winter guard and color guard. In college she marches color guard with the Pride of Arizona and is part of a non-profit organization called Lepas for Lives dance company. Delgado is a color guard/winter guard/dance instructor at a high school and has filled related leadership roles since high school. She enjoys the outdoors, learning new things, speaking up about what she believes in, helping out, performing and spending time with her three-year-old brother and her two dogs Schnooky and Penelope.

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Shannon “Shay” Harris was born and raised in Tucson, AZ. She is a senior at the University of Arizona majoring in creative writing with a minor in environmental studies. Prior to the University, she attended Pima Community College and spent time volunteering in her community. She has been published in the Pima Community College literary magazine, Sandscript. She is currently an intern with Make Way for Books and is waiting for her script Penelope Perch to be published on their mobile app. Shay will graduate in the fall of 2020 and is looking to pursue a career in writing and has an interest in working for an environmental non-profit or a community organization.

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Nina Kolodij is a second year science and environmental journalism Master’s student at the University of Arizona. Her interests include science journalism and communication, historical journalism, geology, environment and conservation, photojournalism and travel. In her spare time, she is an avid reader, artist, equestrian and ballroom dancer. After growing up in suburban Pennsylvania, Nina decided to explore her passions in Tucson, Arizona. She received her B.S. in geology with a minor in planetary sciences in spring of 2018. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, Nina decided to stay in Tucson to combine her love of science and writing in the form of a master’s degree. Her master’s project focuses on the science of science of communication. Through a series of interviews, she is collecting perspectives from “stakeholders” involved in communicating science: scientists, science journalists, policy influencers and the public. The interviews will be published on a website called Speaking Science-ese in an attempt to analyze the issues present in science communication, as well as to present ideas and opinions on how to better communicate science. Although Nina’s ultimate goal for the future is to pursue a doctorate in either earth science or science communication, her main objective right now is to gain experience as a science writer. After spending time interning the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Nina realized that working for an organization that shares and encourages her love of the natural world is incredibly important. Because of this, her dream job would probably involve working at a zoo, aquarium, museum, national park or something along those lines.

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Nathan Martinez – No bio available 

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Denise Meeks – no bio available

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Pamela Pelletier has coordinated the outreach programming for the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research for the past seven years. She is currently a full-time Ph.D. student in Arid Lands and Art and Visual Culture. Pamela is interested in how visual imagery can be used to communicate science. She can often be found roping her two kids into doing some crafty project or DYI project in her backyard.

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Alexandra Sharon Pere is a senior at the University of Arizona studying journalism and religious studies for her undergraduate degree while also starting her master’s in science journalism. Alex is intrigued by the intricate ways in which human beings interpret the meaning of their world. She says she’s never felt a pull toward any belief system which makes her a great candidate to ask why people think the way they do (this goes for science and religion). She has a passion for science journalism because it’s something our world needs desperately right now. With new research coming out every day, Alex says we need journalists at the frontlines to examine and relay this information to the public. Science informs us, challenges us and protects us. Born in Louisiana, She’s a sassy Cajun with a big personality who loves hearing people’s stories. It doesn’t matter who you are or how simple you think your story is: she will listen. Journalism gives Alex the opportunity to listen. Asking smart people dumb questions is her specialty and she hopes her articles will inspire others to ask dumb questions. But more importantly, she wants her articles to help people find a relationship to nature. Environmental science continues to make her see the world through a lens of awe. Nothing is “normal” to her anymore. From the instinctive migratory paths of monarch butterflies, to the niche shifts in species interactions with climate change, she finds herself seeing the natural world as divine. These highly intricate systems may not exist anywhere else in the entire universe. Apart from all that cool stuff, she loves traveling, hiking and spending time with her partner and their dog, Luna. She looks forward to finishing her degrees and working with a non-profit news organization.

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Heather Peters is an environmental science student at the University of Arizona. Her goal is to promote an understanding of sustainability and eco-friendly practices and their importance in the community. Heather enjoys gardening and is passionate about encouraging others to grow their own food. She is starting her honors thesis project in the fall. Her thesis will focus on using photography to communicate the importance and relevance of sustainability initiatives in Tucson. The project’s main goal is to bridge the gap between scientists and the general public that is caused by complicated and confusing scientific writing.

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Matthew Roby is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment where he studies ecohydrology and land-air exchange of carbon, water, and energy. His research asks how water availability controls the uptake and release of carbon in semiarid ecosystems. The goal of his research is to enhance understanding and develop strategies to conserve plant, soil, and water resources in the context of global environmental change. As a Carson Scholar, he is interested in science communication and environmental writing. Matthew enjoys playing music, cooking and exploring western landscapes by bike, foot and raft.

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Nick Smallwood is a photographer, cinematographer and actor based in Tucson, Arizona. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Arizona School of Journalism, where he is studying visual storytelling. When he is not busy working as a production technician for Arizona Public Media’s Emmy-award-winning television shows, Arizona Illustrated, and Arizona 360, as well as for the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts, Nick enjoys hiking, cycling and exploring the great outdoors. You can view Nick’s work on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mr.nick1/ or on his website http://www.nicksmallwood.com.

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Brittany Uhlorn, Ph.D.*

I am a fifth-year cancer biology doctoral candidate at UArizona. My research focuses on the interactions between Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the innate immune system. HPV is the most commonly transmitted infection, and importantly, persistent HPV infections lead to 5% of all cancers worldwide. Through several techniques, I have discovered a novel regulatory mechanism of the innate immune system. I have also shown that HPV efficiently evades detection by the innate immune system during both initial and persistent infection. I am currently writing my dissertation and will defend in April 2020. I am also pursuing a graduate certificate in Science Communication. Following graduation in May 2020, I plan to develop a multifaceted career that supports the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of others. I hope to write journalistic pieces about the life and health sciences to make complex discoveries accessible by people of all identities and educations. Secondly, I am currently enrolled in a yoga teacher training course with a local studio. Following the completion of my certification in September 2020, I plan to teach yoga to support the physical and mental health of others. Lastly, I aspire to be a mental health advocate, especially for students. Following my comprehensive exam at the end of my second year of graduate school, I experienced a mental health crisis. I quickly developed an eating disorder as an unhealthy coping mechanism to protect myself from stress, anxiety and distress I experienced. Through three years of daily therapy and working with a dietician, I have been able to recover from my eating disorder and find balance in my life. I am passionate about denouncing the negative stigma surrounding mental health and desire to use my experiences and passion to support the mental wellbeing of others. In my spare time, I enjoy immersing myself in the beauty of my backyard – the Santa Catalina Mountains. I am an avid hiker and yogi, and I love experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes. On a (rarely) cloudy day, you can find me curled up on the couch with my husband, coffee and a psychological thriller novel.

*Dr. Uhlorn successfully completed her Ph.D. dissertation defense in May 2020.

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Maury Urcadez is an aspiring sports journalist. She is a senior attending the University of Arizona and will be graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Urcadez came to UArizona as a transfer student from Pima Community College where she also played competitive soccer for two years. She has interned at two Tucson TV stations: KVOA and KOLD. She is currently a social media intern for the professional soccer club, FC Tucson. Urcadez is a Tucson native and dreams of becoming a sideline reporter for a major league soccer team. In six years, she sees herself as a reporter or analyst at the 2026 FIFA World Cup reporting in English and Spanish.

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Maddy Werbelow – no photo or bio available

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
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  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.