On Oct. 16, the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences Seminars will welcome Berry Brosi, Ph.D., associate professor at Emory University, who will present, “Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: The Role of Behavioral and Morphological Plasticity.”

The seminar begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, and a Q&A will be held afterward. Light refreshments will also be served afterward. You can view the full schedule of the fall 2019 quarter SEFS Seminars here, and all seminars will be recorded and posted to the SEFS YouTube page here.

Here is the abstract for his talk:

“Biodiversity is a key driver of several ecosystem functions that are critical for supporting life on Earth. Accelerating anthropogenic environmental changes underscore the importance of mechanistically understanding the functional consequences of biodiversity losses. Research on diversity-functioning relationships has primarily concentrated on single-trophic-level plant communities, and furthermore has largely operated under the assumption that functional traits are fixed within species. But many ecosystem and community functions are driven by species interactions across trophic levels, and both morphological and behavioral plasticity are ubiquitous in biological systems. In this talk I will present results from studies exploring diversity-functioning relationships in plant-pollinator systems, where the functional outcome (pollination) is driven by interactions across species in two trophic levels, and where rapid behavioral plasticity in foraging is a defining feature of the system.

“This work includes species removal experiments in the field and highly controlled behavioral experiments in the lab using a unique system of computer-controlled artificial flowers. Together, these studies suggest stronger functional consequences of biodiversity loss compared to work in single-trophic-level plant communities. I will also discuss two lines of future work: the first focused on mathematical modeling of the consequences of plasticity on diversity-functioning relationships; and the second on the experimental manipulation of morphological plasticity in response to biotic interactions in single-trophic-level plant communities. Finally, I will briefly cover a separate but related line of research: data-driven policy work on the administration of the Endangered Species Act, the most important legal framework for the protection of biodiversity in the US.”

The SEFS Seminar Series is made possible with support from the Corkery Family Environmental and Forest Sciences Director’s Endowed Chair fund.