Are the ghosts of nature's past haunting ecology today?
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Humans have decimated populations of large-bodied consumers and their functions in most of the world's ecosystems. It is less clear how human activities have affected the diversity of habitats these consumers occupy. Rebounding populations of some predators after conservation provides an opportunity to begin to investigate this question. Recent research shows that following long-term protection, sea otters along the northeast Pacific coast have expanded into estuarine marshes and seagrasses, and alligators on the southeast US coast have expanded into saltwater ecosystems, habitats presently thought beyond their niche space. There is also evidence that seals have expanded into subtropical climates, mountain lions into grasslands, orangutans into disturbed forests and wolves into coastal marine ecosystems. Historical records, surveys of protected areas and patterns of animals moving into habitats that were former hunting hotspots indicate that — rather than occupying them for the first time — many of these animals are in fact recolonizing ecosystems. Recognizing that many large consumers naturally live and thrive across a greater diversity of ecosystems has implications for setting historical baselines for predator diversity within specific habitats, enhancing the resilience of newly colonized ecosystems and for plans to recover endangered species, as a greater range of habitats is available for large consumers as refugia from climate-induced threats. Silliman et al. discuss the ecological and conservation implications of predators showing-up and thriving in ecosystems thought beyond their niche space
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.002
Publication InfoGaskins, Lindsay; He, Q; Hughes, BB; Nifong, J; Read, Andrew J; Silliman, Brian Reed; ... Tinker, MT (2018). Are the ghosts of nature's past haunting ecology today?. Current Biology, 28(9). 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.002. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17155.
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I investigate the impact of top predators on ecosystems through trophic cascade. By determining the relative impacts of top-down and bottom-up forces on ecosystem function and structure, this work will inform effective future management plans throughout coastal systems, and protect critical ecosystem services. I am a NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and graduated from Duke University in 2014 with my bachelor’s degree. My previous studies have also focused on top predators, specific
Stephen A. Toth Professor of Marine Biology in the Nicholas School of the Environment
Dr. Read's research interests are in the conservation biology of long-lived marine vertebrates, particularly marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles. Much of his current research documents the effects of human activities on populations of these species and attempts to find solutions to such conflicts. This work involves field work, experimentation and modeling. He is particularly interested in the development and application of new conservation tools.
Rachel Carson Associate Professor of Marine Conservation Biology
Brian Silliman is the Rachel Carson Professor of Marine Conservation Biology. He holds both B.A. and M.S. degrees from the University of Virginia, and completed his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. In recognition of his research achievements, Silliman was named a Distinguished Fulbright Chair with CSIRO in 2019; a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in 2015; a Visiting Professor with the Royal Netherlands Society of Arts and Sciences i
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