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Spring 2018 Seminar Series

When: All seminars held Fridays from 11:10am to 12:00pm
Where: Fisher Hall 33-285

25 May 2018

To Unpathed Waters: The Realtionship Between Hydric State and Immune Function

George Brusch IV, PhD Candidate, Biological Sciences, Arizona State University

While the immune system is essential for survival, its performance is dynamic, varying with the physiological state of the organism. Resource availability is also extremely important to immune function, with most studies focusing on the competing allocation of energy into immune versus other physiological functions. As with energy, fluctuations in water availability can also alter various physiological processes (e.g., protein production, cellular composition, organismal development). While much of the previous research has explored limited energetic resources, I took a novel approach and explored how water (a fundamental, non-energetic resource) interacts with numerous physiological functions. Through experiments on multiple species and life-stages I have provided substantial evidence that dehydrated animals have enhanced innate immunity in field and laboratory settings. This research has greatly contributed to our understanding of immune function dynamics and has laid a foundation for the study of hydration immunology as a component of the burgeoning field of environmental immunology. Additionally, my research has expanded our understanding of how reproductive females can alter metabolic substrates to reallocate internal water sources during times of water scarcity, an important development in our understanding of reproductive investment and phenology. Further understanding the ecological and physiological impacts of water limitation is vital for understanding animal survival under resource-limited conditions.

"George Brusch IV received his B.S. in Biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His senior project investigating the impact of climate change on ectotherms in Costa Rica was the featured cover story in a top-tier ecology journal (Oecologia, Feb. 2016). Mr. Brusch is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University where his research uses integrative methods to answer questions regarding physiological functions in organisms inhabiting resource-limited environments, specifically how immune function may or may not fluctuate in environments with limited water availability. Recently, he traveled to Australia to collaborate with multiple universities to apply his research methods to conservation concerns associated with a highly invasive species." --excerpted from his ASU profile.


11 May 2018

The Marine Industrial Revolution

Douglas McCauley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara

The McCauley Lab research program seeks to understand how communities and ecosystems assemble and function in a rapidly changing world. Particular interests include: how animal body size shapes the ecology of communities and ecosystems; mechanisms and routes by which change propagates across complex food-webs; and how anthropogenic changes alter the structural and dynamical properties of communities and ecosystems.

4 May 2018

Serpentine: Evolution & Ecology on Strange Rock & Soils

Dr. Susan Harrison, PhD, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis

Susan Harrison is a professor of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis. Her teaching currently includes Principles of Ecology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her research seeks to understand the large-scale (biogeographic, evolutionary) and small-scale (ecological) forces controlling the diversity of plant communities. In recent years her interests have turned toward understanding the effects of natural climatic variability and anthropogenic climate change.

Dr Harrison received her B.S. (Zoology) 1983, M.S. (Ecology) from the University of California, Davis, and Ph.D. (Biology 1989) from Stanford University.

She has held positions including Research Associate, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford (1986 - 1989); Postdoctoral Fellow, Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies, Stanford (1989); Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College at Silwood Park, England (1990 - 1991).

Awards include International Recognition of Professional Excellence Award (International Ecology Institute, Oldendorf, Germany), 1996; Fellow, California Academy of Sciences, 2004; Fellow, Ecological Society of America, 2013.

27 April 2018

Big Data, Satellite Technology, and Research Synthesis for Ocean Conservation

Dr. Francesco Ferretti, PhD, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University

Francesco Ferretti is a quantitative and computational marine ecologist specialized in research synthesis. His scientific work is on marine conservation, fishery sciences, population dynamics, and quantitative ecology with a special interest in sharks and rays. Francesco combines ecology, statistical modeling, and computer science to approach questions on animal abundance and distribution, species interactions, large marine predators, top-down control, and structure and function of large marine ecosystems. He obtained his PhD in Marine Ecology at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) and now is a research associate at Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University working on ecological function and management of very large marine protected areas, analyses of telemetry data and stock assessment of sharks and other large marine predators, and on innovative ways to detect and combat illegal fishing in marine mega reserves and in the high seas.

20 April 2018

Immersive Learning, Conservation Mechatronics, and Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Dr. Sean Anderson, PhD, Director, Aerial and Aquatic Robotic Research Group and Chair & Professor, Environmental Science and Resource Management Program, CSU Channel Islands

Many of our communities–-from our ecosystems, to nation, to our very own CSU system–-are facing increasingly uncertain futures. The scale and nature of the factors stressing our natural, social, and institutional systems can be perplexing; plummeting budgets, a shrinking proportions of technical skills across our population, novel or ubiquitous assaults upon system resilience, etc. One interesting suite of related technologies emerging before our eyes offers some hope of addressing at least some of these challenges in more cost effective, engaging, and scalable ways than traditional approaches. I will discuss some of my Pirate Lab’s first steps into these novel technologies, including Immersive Learning, robotic technologies to aid monitoring and management (what we call Conservation Mechatronics), and the value of virtual environments both for our classrooms and a wide swath of conservation and resource management needs.

Professor Sean Anderson is a broadly trained ecologist and conservation biologist who works on a variety of coastal zone management issues across California, Louisiana, the South Pacific, and Middle East. Sean chairs the Environmental Science and Resource Management Program at California State University Channel Islands and is an elected or appointed member of numerous state, federal, and international governmental, and scientific advisory boards.

6 April 2018

Parasites and Food Webs

Kevin Lafferty, PhD, Senior Ecologist, USGS, Western Ecological Research Center 

Food webs are a conceptual framework for ecology. But, ecologists rarely put parasites in food webs. As a result, we have little idea about the roles that parasites play in complex ecosystems. Dr Lafferty will discuss work from his lab suggesting that parasites affect food webs in estuary, kelp forest, coral reef, stream, and lake ecosystems.  Furthermore, food webs affect parasites in ways best evidenced by comparing fished and unfished aquatic systems.

"Dr Kevin Lafferty's main interest lies in how parasites affect ecosystems and, in turn, how ecosystems affect parasites. He is also involved in research on the conservation of marine resources, investigating strategies for protecting endangered shorebirds, fish and abalone. He has also assessed the effects of marine reserves." -- excerpt from his profile page






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