Clare Aslan: Smith Postdoctoral Fellow of the Society for Conservation Biology
The potential contribution of non-native pollinators and seed dispersers to native plant conservation. Website
Clare Aslan (Smith Postdoctoral Fellow of the Society for Conservation Biology)
I am a conservation ecologist studying animal-plant interactions, with particular focus on mutualism formation and disruption. I am broadly interested in the role of mutualisms in the context of global change and the impact of mutualism failure on biodiversity. I am currently a Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in the Zavaleta lab. My PhD dissertation at the University of California, Davis, investigated the role of bird dispersal in tree invasiveness in California’s Central Valley. My current research addresses the following questions: Under what conditions does extinction of vertebrates break mutualisms and leave behind “widowed” plants that are themselves in danger of extinction? How predictable is such widowhood? What is the potential for taxon substitution of non-native vertebrates to restore mutualisms? What risks may be posed by taxon substitution?
In my time off, I enjoy camping, backpacking, creative writing, and spending time with my husband and two children.
Aslan, C. E., and M. Rejmánek. 2010. Avian use of introduced plants: ornithologist records illuminate interspecific associations and research needs. Ecological Applications 20:1005-1020. PDF
Bower, M. J., C. E. Aslan, and M. Rejmánek. 2009. Invasion potential of Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera) in California’s Central Valley. Invasive Plant Science and Management 2:386-395. PDF
Epanchin-Niell, R. S., M. B. Hufford, C. E. Aslan, J. P. Sexton, J. D. Port, and T. M. Waring. 2009. Controlling invasive species in complex social landscapes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8:210-216 . PDF
Aslan, C. E., M. B. Hufford, R. S. Epanchin-Niell, J. D. Port, J. P. Sexton, and T. M. Waring. 2009. Practical challenges in private stewardship of rangeland ecosystems: yellow starthistle control in Sierra Nevadan foothills. Rangeland Ecology and Management 62:28-37. PDF
Serpentine grasslands as a model system to assess impacts of non-random species loss on ecosystem function. Website
Holly Jones: Visiting Scholar 2010-2012
Ecosystem-based Adaptation strategies for climate change to maximize the well-being of both people and ecosystems. Website
Holly Jones (Visiting Scholar)
I am a restoration ecologist and work at the intersections of ecological theory, community ecology, invasive species biology, and ecosystem ecology. I have broad research interests that include using ecosystem resilience theory and ecosystem service theory to prioritize restoration, and using geospatial information to prioritize climate change adaptation strategies. My broad research questions are (1) How can current ecological resilience theory be used and built upon to guide ecosystem restoration efforts; (2) How can biodiversity contribute to ecosystem restoration and human well-being; and (3) How does global change affect coupled human and natural systems and what role can ecosystem restoration play in helping people adapt to climate change? I have used meta-analysis, small-scale field experiments, ecosystem-scale natural experiments, geospatial analysis, and modeling to address these questions. The unifying theme of my research is applying basic ecological theory to answer fundamental applied questions.
Using basic science to inform ecological theory and restoration practice
My pre-graduate work developed an innovative meta-analytic approach to quantify the effects of invasive rats on seabirds globally. The data were on disparate scales and had varying quality, so I developed a new way to account for this variability and different scaling. My dissertation work focused on ecosystem recovery following invasive rodent eradication on islands using an interdisciplinary approach. I looked at passive recovery and at the role that actively restoring seabird populations can play in speeding recovery.
Using ecosystem resilience theory to guide restoration priorities
My research interest in one particular perturbation and ecosystem has now expanded into an interest in a variety of perturbations across myriad ecosystems. Given the rise of human populations and continued exploitation of the ecosystems on which humans depend, restoration is becoming one of the most important tools in managers’ toolboxes. I am collaborating with two universities and an NGO to employ ecological theory to improve ways to guide restoration priorities. I have teamed up with Peter Kareiva of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Michelle Marvier of Santa Clara University, and my current postdoctoral advisor, Erika Zavaleta to work on a project that will explore the effects active restoration can have on ecosystem recovery outcomes and rates. We are evaluating ecosystem restoration with the same integrated approach I took to my dissertation research. We are combining empirical data of ecosystem recovery and restoration projects with ecosystem service valuation modeling to inform restoration prioritization. If you are interested in contributing to this project by helping us gather data, please email me.
Prioritizing climate change adaptaion to maximize human, economic, and biodiversity gains
I am working in collaboration with Conservation International to develop a first cut at global priorities for using ecosystem-based climate change adaptation strategies to protect coastal communities from sea level rise and increasing and more frequent storms. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) expressly recognizes the inherent ability of ecosystems to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. My role is to use my interdisciplinary training to gather global data sets that collate information on exposure to climate change effects, population sensitivity to those effects, and population adaptive capacity that would allow people to adapt to those effects. The ultimate goal is a geospatial map that identifies areas that have the highest priorities for EbA actions.
Beginning Aug 16 2012 I will be starting a new position as:
Department of Biology and Institute for the Study of Environment, Sustainability, and Energy
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Jones, H.P., D. Hole, and E.S. Zavaleta 2012. Harnessing nature to help people adapt to climate change. Nature Climate Change 2: 504-509. PDF
Jones, H.P. and S.W. Kress 2012. A review of the world’s active seabird restoration project. Journal of Wildlife Management 76(1): 2-9. PDF
Jones, H.P. 2010. Seabird islands take mere decades to recover following rat eradication. Ecological Applications 20(8): 2075–2080. PDF
Jones, H.P. 2010. Prognosis for ecosystem recovery following rodent eradication and seabird restoration in an island archipelago. Ecological Applications 20(5): 1204-1216. Reviewed on Faculty 1000. PDF
Jones, H.P. and O.J. Schmitz. 2009. Rapid recovery of damaged ecosystems. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5653. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005653. Featured on NPR National, in The Economist Magazine, Faculty 1000 and Nature Research Highlights. PDF
Jones, H.P., B.R. Tershy, E.S. Zavaleta, D.A. Croll, B.S. Keitt, and M.E. Finkelstein. 2008. Severity of the effects of invasive rats on seabirds: A global review. Conservation Biology 22(1): 16-26. PDF
Jones, H.P., R.W. Henry III, G.R. Howald, B.R. Tershy, and D.A. Croll (2005). Predation of artificial Xantus’s Murrelet nests before and after black rat eradication. Environmental Conservation 32(4): 320-325. PDF
Exploring interacting global changes at the land-sea margin, specifically sea-level rise and nitrogen pollution in central California estuaries, and effects on ecosystem functions and services. Website
Paul Selmants: Post-doc 2008-2011
Investigating the impacts of rising temperature on carbon storage and allocation in Hawaiian tropical wet montane forests. Website
Leah Samberg: PhD
Contracting with the Nature Conservancy on a project assessing the ability of conservation initiatives in developing countries to create economic benefits for local communities.
Human-environment interactions in Ethiopian southwest ecosystems, with emphasis on ecosystem goods and services vital to agricultural sustainability and livelihoods on the one hand, and deforestation and habitat modification affecting plant biodiversity patterns on the other. Website
Nicole Heller: Post-doc 2006-07
Synthesis of ecological recommendations for conservation under climate change. Website