Monster Seminar JAM - Why Experimental Ecology Matters for Conservation Biology
Dr. Mark Bertness, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University
While conservation biologists often portray experimental ecology as interesting, but frivolous science that isn't particularly useful, experimental ecology can play a leading role in elucidating how communities work and thus lead to effective conservation and management practices. I outline three examples of ongoing work in my laboratory that illustrate the linkage between experimental community ecology and the conservation and management of natural communities. In the first example, experimentally elucidating the assembly rules of salt marsh plant communities allows us to predict how eutrophication is currently impacting salt marsh communities. In the second example, testing the widely assumed lack of consumer control in southern salt marshes reveals strong consumer control and suggests that over harvesting consumers such as blue crabs may lead to the collapse of southern marsh systems. In the final example, experimentally testing the widely applied but rarely tested alternate community stable state hypothesis in seaweed canopy/mussel bed habitats on rocky shores in the Gulf of Maine showed that these communities are actually highly deterministic consumer-driven community states. Whether communities are stochastic or deterministic has important implications for the conservation and management of natural communities. Together these examples demonstrate that experimental ecology can be a critical tool for conservation biology.
Date and Time:
February 19, 2004,
11:00 am - 12:30 pm