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NSF Award from the Division of Environmental Biology

LTREB: Ecological Dynamics in an Experimentally-Tractable Natural Ecosystems

  • Principal Investigator: John Wootton, PhD, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
  • Start Date: September 1, 2009
  • Total Award Amount: $439,744

Project Description

A core challenge for ecologists is to develop frameworks to predict how complex natural communities and ecosystems will respond to environmental impacts such as species extinction and global change. Because ecological interactions are comprised of complex networks, meeting this challenge requires an integration of mathematical frameworks with empirical data. In this project, the investigator will extend several long-term multi-species data sets for marine rocky intertidal organisms and environmental conditions, and use these data to estimate species interaction strengths in dynamic, multi-species models. These results will then be used to test for general patterns of interaction strength and to generate predictions for different potential environmental impacts. Long-term species manipulation experiments in this intertidal habitat will be used to validate predictions generated by multi-species models.

Results of this study will significantly enhance the ability to address an urgent societal need - the prediction of natural ecosystem responses to global change, including climate change. In the process, the study will increase collaboration and data sharing among university researchers and governmental management agencies (Tribal and NOAA National Marine Sanctuary staff), provide advanced training for Ph. D. students, and facilitate research experience for undergraduate in ecological science. Data associated with the project will be publicly available through the University of Chicago, the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity, and through the Ecological Society of America's Ecological Archives.

This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, NSF Award number: 0919420

John Wootton

John Wootton, PhD,
Department of Ecology and Evolution, Committee on Evolutionary Biology