Biosciences Seminar Series - Michaelmas 2013
07 November 2013 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)
(please note change of date due to strike action on October 31st)
The more the merrier?
When, where and why does biodiversity matter for ecosystems.
(University of Swansea, UK)
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This week we go local! I mean, our seminar speaker this week will be Dr. John Griffin, lecturer at our Biosciences Department. John's research, though, is 'well-travelled' as his study sites range from rock pools on Welsh coasts, to seagrass system in the southern US, to high-altitude sites in Tibet.
Underlying this diversity of study sites is one common question - how does biodiversity change due to human influences and how does this affect the structure and services provided by ecosystems to humans? Whilst this is an important and urgent question under current global change, it has however proven difficult to drive generally applicable conclusions. John might, however, have found a solution:
Variety is the spice of life, right? Unfortunately, human activities are reducing this variety by driving local and even global species extinction. I am interested in how such changes to the diversity of organisms will influence how ecosystems function, and ultimately the quality and quantity of services provided to humans.
Diversity in ecological communities can be considered in two simple dimensions – horizontal (the diversity of species sharing resources within a trophic level) and vertical (the number of trophic levels within a system). Using field and laboratory experiments based on a range of different ecosystems – from rocky shores to Tibetan alpine meadows – I investigate the importance of both these dimensions of diversity.
I’ve found that effects of diversity on ecosystem function are (not surprisingly – this is ecology after all) highly context-dependent, varying both within and among studies. The cool thing is though, this context-dependency can be explained by considering how the traits of species interact with their environment. So, it may just be possible to predict the impacts of biodiversity changes within specific ecosystems and contexts.
Everyone will be welcome, as usual!