Research Themes Our lab spans a wide range of research interests, many falling under the rubric of use-inspired basic research.
Linking Organisms and Ecosystem Processes For many years our lab has been engaged in research aimed at understanding linkages between organisms and the ecosystems they are embedded in. Research around this theme has included work on organisms as ecosystem engineers that shape their physical and chemical environments, migratory fish as material and process subsidies in river ecosystems, consumers as nutrient recyclers in an ecological stoichiometry context, and work on biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships. We often try to place our work within the context of understanding which species and under what environmental settings do we see strong roles of organisms from an ecosystem perspective, in order to gain insights into when species losses or invasions are likely to matter to the way that ecosystems function.
Sustainability Science We are working on a variety of sustainability themes including strategic hydropower planning in the Amazon Basin, climate-ready fishing communities, and environmental tradeoffs involving different animal-source food systems. We work closely with computer science colleagues, including Carla Gomes, in the emerging field of Computational Sustainability, which uses state-of-the-art computation to tackle complex sustainability problems. Please see the web site here for more information on our Amazon Dams Computational Sustainability Working Group. You can watch this 3-minute video for more information on Computational Sustainability.
Rapid Evolution in an Anthropogenic Context We continue to work on rapid evolution and eco-evolutionary dynamics in nature. Rapid evolution in an ecosystem context has been the theme of our past work with many colleagues on Trinidadian guppies, as described here under The Guppy Project. Currently, we are exploring fisheries-induced evolution as well as rapid evolution in relation to the construction and removal of dams and other barriers.
Vulnerability of Species to Climate Change We have been interested in understanding whether species from tropical and temperate systems differ in their vulnerability to climate change. This was one of the major motivations of EVOTRAC, a collaborative project originally funded by a Dimensions of Biodiversity NSF grant. EVOTRAC research based in the Ecuadorian Andes and the Colorado Rockies tests ideas on differential sensitivities of species to changing temperature and precipitation regimes in a comparative geographical context. More information on EVOTRAC can be found here.