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Laura Dee (Colorado Boulder): Putting ecological theory to work for conservation

12 October 2021 @ 9:00 - 10:00 PDT

Abstract. Two grand challenges of our time are climate change and biodiversity loss. This talk focuses on the fundamental question of: to what extent can ecological theory help us understand the consequences of these global changes to inform conservation?  I will present two examples investigating this larger question: 1) the consequences of extreme events in boreal forests for ecological stability versus ecosystem services outcomes’ and the 2) vulnerability of food webs versus ecosystem services to species losses in coastal food webs.  In the first case, commonly used ecological measures also fall short of predicting disturbance impacts on forest ecosystem services–  exhibiting low correlations or systematic biases. In the other case, food web robustness is strongly related to ecosystem service robustness in aggregate, but different types of ecosystem services vary dramatically in their robustness to species’ losses. Together, this work highlights that the complex nature of socioeconomic and ecological systems create challenges for extrapolating ecological theory to understand threats from global change for conservation goals .  Thus, I will highlight exciting research avenues for discussion on how ecological theory to contribute to conservation and interdisciplinary research in our inherently socio-environmental systems. 


12 October 2021
9:00 - 10:00 PDT
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