Navigation Links
Ecology research paper wins national award
Date:8/4/2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Humans are known to alter the planet. One efficient way is by adding new species to ecosystems. People accidentally (and oftentimes deliberately) transport species from place to place in airplanes, boats and cars. Humans are known, too, to even remove a species entirely from its ecosystem by overhunting or by destroying the species' habitat. What, if any, are the consequences of such actions? How do they impact ecosystems?

In May 2014, Ashkaan K. Fahimipour, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at the University of California, Riverside, and a colleague published a research paper in Ecology Letters, a top journal in the field of ecology, in which they manipulated many ecosystems at once to examine how the connections between species change over time.

That paper, titled "The Dynamics of Assembling Food Webs," has now been selected as this year's recipient of the Thomas M. Frost Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, sponsored by the aquatic section of the Ecological Society of America. Named for a creative scientist, the prize honors his commitment to aquatic ecology and graduate student education.

Fahimipour and coauthor Andrew M. Hein of Princeton University will receive a plaque and a cash award this month in Sacramento, Calif., at the 99th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.

"This study is really important because Ashkaan and his colleague followed the linkages among the species over a long time span; I know of no other experiment that does this," said Kurt E. Anderson, an assistant professor of biology at UC Riverside and Fahimipour's adviser. "The uniqueness of their data has already attracted great attention, with Ashkaan fielding many requests for data by researchers who are interested in conducting further analyses."

Fahimipour explained that ecosystems are collections of plants, animals, and other living things that grow and interact with one another around us. To protect and preserve our environment, we need to understand how they work, he said.

"If we're going to avoid destroying the environment around us, we need to understand how species are linked to one another and how our actions affect these linkages," he said. "But it's hard to look at a whole ecosystem such as an Alaskan forest or an African savanna at once because they are so big."

To circumvent this problem, ecologists often settle for smaller ecosystems to study and manipulate in a controlled waywhich is just how Fahimipour and Hein proceeded. In their study, one of the few to look at how linkages between species change through time, they studied small ponds (42plastic wading pools) and more than 130 speciesincluding algae, zooplankton, microcrustaceans, mosquitoes, flies, beetles, dragonflies, tadpoles and hitch-hiking mitesthey encountered living in them. They found many patterns that have never been seen beforesuch as changes in the network structure of interacting plants and animals within these ecosystems.

To do the research, Fahimipour and Hein added species (a mixture of zooplankton and insects) to half of their artificial ponds. In the remaining half they added no species. They then laboriously tracked all the species in all the ponds for about 10 weeks, which allowed them to study how species' interactions changed over the course of the experiment.

"What our experiments showed us is that life is unfair in these little pondsto put it simply," Fahimipour said. "A few species consume almost all of the resources and thrived. The rest did not, and dwindled in number. Many studies have shown that nature seems to exhibit striking regularities across habitats. So, if you look at a lake in North America and compare it to a community of soil microbes in Asia, they will have certain similarities, especially regarding the way in which species are connected to one another via interactions. Our study makes a step toward understanding how and why these regularities arise using a model system."

Because ecosystems are always changing, Fahimipour and Hein conclude that an ecosystem has to be examined more than once to understand how it works.

"These types of studies are rare," Fahimipour said. "It's a matter of theory far outpacing data in a scientific field. We have all of these ideas from mathematical models and simulations about how ecosystems should change through time, but no one has actually observed these hypothesized patterns before. We need to start understanding these changes over time. This is because ecosystems are so variable, and something that we learn about a particular ecosystem today may not be useful tomorrow because they change so rapidly."


'/>"/>

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scaling in ecology and biodiversity conservation explained in a book and an online tool
2. The Rim Fire 1 year later: A natural experiment in fire ecology and management
3. Fire ecology manipulation by California native cultures
4. UC Riverside entomologist receives international honor for chemical ecology contributions
5. Climate change and the ecology of fear
6. 10th International Symposium on Earthworm Ecology
7. Researchers receive top honors for ecology paper
8. Temperature and ecology: Rival Chilean barnacles keep competition cool
9. Steak-knife teeth reveal ecology of oldest land predators
10. Island Biology 2014: An International Conference on Island Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation
11. Linking social science and ecology to solve the worlds environmental problems
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Ecology research paper wins national award
(Date:6/9/2016)... -- Paris Police Prefecture ... to ensure the safety of people and operations in several ... tournament Teleste, an international technology group specialised in ... that its video security solution will be utilised by ... safety across the country. The system roll-out is scheduled for ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) ... million US Dollar project, for the , Supply ... Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated ... was selected for the most compliant and innovative ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... 2016 Favorable Government Initiatives Coupled ... Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System Market Through ... Research report, " Global Biometrics Market By Type, ... Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics market is ... account of growing security concerns across various end use ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... PUNE, India , December 2, 2016 ... Billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 7.3% during the ... segment while hospitals and diagnostic laboratories segment accounted for the largest ... ... Complete report on global immunohistochemistry (IHC) market spread across 225 ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016  GenomOncology today announced the appointment ... of Medical Affairs.  Dr. Coleman will oversee ... company,s proprietary knowledge-enabled platform. The GenomOncology software suite empowers molecular ... sequencing data and clinical decision support, from quality control through ... , , ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... RATON, Fla. , Nov. 30, 2016 ... biotherapeutic products, is pleased to announce the addition of ... Avenue Kearney, Nebraska . The 15,200 ... business on November 29th, 2016 and brings the total ... Ileana Carlisle , BPC,s Chief Executive ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016  Tempus, a technology company focused ... Penn,s Abramson Cancer Center have partnered to better ... to immunotherapy treatment based on next generation genomic ... of a research collaboration, Tempus will provide sequencing ... patient data to Penn. Utilizing next-generation sequencing, machine ...
Breaking Biology Technology: