Thursday, 3 May
Graduate Invited Speaker
Professor Dept of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Floods, droughts, and river food webs: algal-mediated connections of rivers, oceans, and uplands
Food web interactions change down drainage networks, and over time as rivers experience discharge fluctuations. Spatial changes in environmental controls of organisms and food webs (e.g. radiation and disturbance regimes) change in a partially predictable fashion down river networks. In sunlit rivers, algal production fuels webs that link bacteria, algae, aquatic invertebrates, and vertebrates, and the birds, lizards, spiders, and bats that feed on algal export and insect emergence.
These interactions link rivers, watersheds, and nearshore ocean ecosystems in surprising ways. Mapping and explaining changes in environmental controls over key food web interactions is a necessary step towards predicting how river ecosystems will respond to future changes in climate, land use, or biota.
Dr. Mary E. Power is a Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley; Faculty Manager at Angelo Coast Range Reserve; and Director of the California Biodiversity Center, Berkeley Organized Research Unit.
Dr. Power’s work addresses three main questions: how do organisms respond to variation in the availability of their food, what factors constrain their responses, and how do their responses (or lack thereof) affect the ecosystems that they live in?
She has focused on food webs in northern California rivers and their watersheds since 1987, when she began her work at University of California, Berkeley. In particular, she studies how species attributes influence their effects in food webs, and how species interactions change under different environmental regimes. Current research topics include:
- the interplay of trophic dynamics with hydrologic and productivity regimes in rivers and potential effects of climate change on food webs in rivers and meadows;
- the impacts of invading exotic species food web links between rivers and their watersheds, specifically the influence of river-derived insect production on terrestrial consumers in watersheds (spiders, lizards, bats);
- the effects of fine bed sediments on juvenile steelhead and the food webs that support their growth changes in energy sources to food webs down drainage networks;
- landscape controls on stream metabolism, fluxes, and consumer-resource interactions;
- interplay between spatial fluxes of energy and nutrients to food webs and outcomes of local species interactions.
Much of her experimental work takes place in the South Fork Eel River and its tributaries, within the Angelo Coast Range Reserve in Mendocino County, CA. As Director of the California Biodiversity Center, she also works to foster collaborations between the Berkeley Natural History Museums, Berkeley's Natural History Field Stations, and other partners studying changes in California's biological diversity, past, present, and future. She focuses on uniting scientists familiar with museum-based, historical approaches and earth scientists using field observations and experiments to investigate contemporary processes.
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