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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Sarah Jane Rose's Doctoral Scholarly Seminar

Apr 27, 2016, 11:00am - 12:00pm
333 Kottman Hall with video link to 117A Williams Hall

Sarah Jane Rose, PhD candidate in Ecological Restoration, will present Unravelling a Complex Web – What We Know about Spiders and Disturbance for her Doctoral Scholarly Seminar.

David Wise, a renowned ecologist that studies food-web complexity, wrote in 1993 that “if the terrestrial world is a stage, then any predator as abundant and ubiquitous as the spider must be a major character in the ensuing ecological and evolutionary dramas.”  Spiders play this leading role despite their diminutive nature. Worldwide there are over 40,000 described species of spiders, with over 3,700 inhabiting North America. Spiders can live in almost any terrestrial ecosystem, from the Arctic to the Sahara and other deserts, from tidal zones to high elevation alpine ecosystems. As one of the most numerous and higher-level predators of the arthropod world they are good biocontrol agents of many pest and invasive species and are important natural enemies in many agro-ecosystems. They are a diverse group with multifaceted methods of prey capture, each that can serve as an indicator to the habitat in which they reside or utilize. They are also prey for many animals; including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and mammals. Spiders are abundant in most ecosystems, and are known to be pioneer colonizers in areas that have been recently altered or disturbed.  They are sensitive and respond quickly to environmental conditions, making them a good choice as bioindicators, especially when looking at how ecosystems recover to both natural and anthropogenic disturbances.

Restoration ecologists need an understanding of natural systems to assist them to conceive, formulate, and evaluate their efforts. In particular, ecosystem restoration efforts that emulate natural disturbance processes and the legacies provided by these disturbances are thought to be the most successful. Recently it has been noted that evaluating just the plant community (or one specific target animal) does not provide a holistic view of the impacts of disturbance on natural systems, and thus leaves a void in our understanding and ability to evaluate restoration efforts. Spiders can assist in providing insights and increase our understanding of ecosystem.  In this seminar I will review the current knowledge on how spider communities change following both natural and anthropogenic disturbance, and how this information can be used to help improve ecosystem restoration efforts.

The seminar will begin at 11:00 a.m. in 333 Kottman Hall with a video link to 117A Williams Hall.