Diversity-stability relationships and coexistence: new theory and empirical tests (DBI-1400370)

2017-05-06T13:05:32Z (GMT) by Andrew Tredennick
Funded National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (Intersection of Biology and Mathematics) award to Andrew Tredennick (2014-2017). From NSF website:<div><br></div><div>"NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Biology combine research and training components to prepare young scientists for careers in emerging areas where biology intersects with other scientific disciplines, in this case with mathematics and physical sciences. The Fellows are expected to be leaders of the nation's scientific workforce in the future. This fellowship to Andrew Tredennick supports research and training at the intersection of biology, mathematics, and statistics and addresses the relationship of ecological diversity versus stability using new theorical and experimental approaches. The host institution is Utah State University, and the sponsoring scientists are Peter Adler and Fred Adler. Plant biomass is the base of energy captured on Earth and necessary for all life. In an era of rapid environmental change, it is critical to discover the processes that promote the stability of plant biomass production over time. A deeper understanding of how biodiversity influences stability promises to inform conservation efforts as well as management decisions in many economically significant ways, including livestock production. </div><br>Almost all ecological systems are subject to fluctuations in environmental conditions through time. In plant communities, it is now widely observed that increases in the number of species present in a community can dampen the effect of environmental fluctuations and stabilize biomass production. This research seeks to develop a more mechanistic understanding of the processes that increase, or decrease, ecosystem stability than now exists. The research employs natural ecological communities to consider how population dynamics add-up to produce observed stability and how coexistence among species mediates their population dynamics. The research confronts new predictive theory with five long-term data sets of perennial plant communities from across the western United States. <br><br>Training goals include gaining expertise in theoretical and analytical approaches in ecology, including training in model-data assimilation using advanced statistical methods. The research promises new tools for ecological modeling, and public outreach includes producing a series of "Whiteboard Ecology" videos to introduce ecological theories."