Brent Hughes

Long Marine Lab

University of California, Santa Cruz

Food webs, stability, and functioning of coastal ecosystems under multiple anthropogenic threats

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Pacific Forum—11:00 a.m.

One of the most pressing issues in ecology is determining the drivers of ecosystem functioning and stability. Researchers and managers of ecosystems and populations of concern are often faced with determining the relative effects of top down forces (top predators and lower level consumers), and bottom up forces (nutrient loading and climate) on the stability of ecosystems. I will show that the recovery of top predators, and sea otters through the restoration of food webs, can lead to dramatic changes to coastal ecosystems which often benefit their functioning and stability. I will also demonstrate that anthropogenic nutrient loading and subsequent hypoxia in estuaries can propagate to adjacent ocean ecosystems with consequences to important ecosystem services, namely fishery production, which is mediated by climatic forcing. These results demonstrate that both top predator recovery and climate can regulate ecosystem functioning and stability in the face of extreme anthropogenic stress.

Next: October 21—Andrea Fassbender

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