Monday, June 4, 2012
David Hooper, a professor at Western Washington University, has been crucial in development of the field of ecology and a key component in linking ecosystem processes with bio diversity. In his lecture "Effects of Diversity on Ecosystem Processes", Hooper talks about his publication "A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change". In his paper, Hooper and his colleagues used a method known as "broad analysis" or "meta-meta" analysis to look at resources in the science community and to compile an overall result of what is going on in an ecosystem. In this analysis, they looked at production vs species richness of primary producers, decomposition vs species richness of primary producers, decomposition vs species richness of consumers, and other environmental factors. They looked at 192 studies, 574 experiment, and 1417 effects size that all used randomized design to ensure that there was no criticism of the studies. Overall what they found was that species loss was comparable to other environmental factors.
One of the most interesting things in the talk by Hooper was his explanation for why there were such wide error percentages, which in class caused a lot of students to second guess the legitimacy of the paper. He explained that this was due to the fact that when you are doing a meta-meta analysis there will be a wide range such as a range of a loss of 60% - to a gain of 70% because it depends on the species that make up each monoculture and what is in that culture and the diversity and make up will directly effect those results.
After finishing up the talk on "A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change" he switched gears to another paper of his that is coming out in the next few weeks. This paper is a review paper that looks at types of diversity changes such as changes in number of types of "SPUs" and the effects of the absence of entire groups.
Hooper finishes with three main things that he thinks need to change to help in the advancement of biodiversity on ecosystem research. These were 1. there needs to be a better link between ecosystem functions and ecosystem services, 2. Expand our focus, and 3. Improve predictions. Right now in the linking processes and services, scientists are only looking at primary or decomposers, but he suggests that we need to look at the bigger picture and look at the two together. He suggests that we expand our focus by looking at patters of loss and by changing the scales of our experiments. When looking at patters of loss, we should look at interactions with environmental change, how much diversity is at risk, links between global and local species loss, and species richness vs functional traits of particular species. Finally, when changing the scales of experiments, he suggests looking at how change in landscape effect ecosystem services. With these suggestions, Hooper feels that the possibilities in advancement in this field are endless and invites students to really dive deep into the field of microbes and ecology.