Allen at the
University of Wisconsin calls community ecology,
issue at the center." Community
interactions are the result
behavior, population dynamics, predation, competition and abiotic
constraints operating over a
range of spatio-temporal scales. As a consequnce, communities
of organization that integrate the greatest degree of ecological
complexity, if they even exist that is.
Robustly defining an ecological community is a challenge.
Community descriptons are confounded
observation the measurements one
are working to
general approaches for defining communities based on their intrinsic
nature, not preconceptions about their structure. Our
goal is to determine if and why an amalgam
of organisms interacting
over some period of time in some place is an entity greater than the
sum of its parts,
i.e. a community, and what environmenal factors
impart the greatest influence on species richness and
We use reef
in the Gulf of California, fish in the California Current and
phytoplankton cultures, and large scale experimental manipulations to
study links between
community structure and ecosystem processes.
In one project,
we are studying
how variability in net primary production, driven by El Nino
Southern Oscillation, affects reef fish community dynamics over time
and space. In
another, we are combining theoretical and empirical approaches,
to characterize how predator foraging behavior influences the
evolution of prey populations.
particular, we are studying how niche
breadth and stoichiometry relate to food web stability, and
resource availability and community structure are
related to invasibility and resilience at different levels of
ecological organization. In limnocorrals, we
alter nutrient conditions
communities with different species composition, trophic structure and
nutrient cycling, and then record changes in all three in response to
perturbations and invasions to test predictions from models.
goals are to
dentify the attributes of communiites that vary predictably
in response to changes in environmental conditions.