The functioning of ecosystems involves the transformation
of matter from organic to inorganic compounds and vice versa.
The fauna and flora of earth mediates these transformations
via processes such as decomposition, nutrient mineralization,
photosynthesis and respiration. Consequently, changes in
the composition and distribution of species are expected
to have important effects on ecosystem functioning
Goal: This seminar will review the information
available up to date in an attempt to answer the question
proposed by Loreau et al, 2002: Can the current decline
in biodiversity alter the functioning and stability of ecosystems
and of the Earth System?
Meetings will begin with a 1-hour discussion, led by the
previous meeting presenters. The discussion will be based
on papers from the primary literature assigned by the presenters.
This will be followed by a presentation of a new subject
from two or three new presenters, who then assign a new
set of papers for discussion the following meeting,
Presentations: Each student will give
at least 2 or 3 presentations in groups of 2 or 3. Each
group will determine both to divide up the topic and present
independently or to co-research and co-present the entire
topic. Students select from a list of suggested topics.
Presentation will address background information needed
to understand the papers assigned for later discussion.
Discussions: Each group of presenters
chooses 2 or 3 additional papers for discussion in the week
following their presentation. Papers are from the primary
literature including peer-reviewed journals, and annual
reviews. Papers should be relevant to the subject of their
presentation and add more information to the topic of interest.
All students are required to read the papers and bring two
written questions about each paper. A student chosen randomly
will be called on to give a very brief summary of each paper.
Critical Reviews: 1 to 2 pages reviewing
the discussion papers during the semester. These reviews
are assigned to those students not presenting and are due
the day the subject papers are discussed
Review Papers: Each presenter writes a
paper 5 to 10 page long on an aspect of their second presentation.
Review papers are not collaborative. The paper is due the
week after the presentation.
Here is a list of tentative projects that I find extremely
interesting. Please read the articles associated with each
of them and rank them based on your own interest:
1. Contribution of the Crum woods to the
global carbon cycle: a sink or a source?
• Smithwick, E.A.H. et al. 2002. Potential upper bounds
of carbon stores in forests of the Pacific Northwest. Ecological
Applications, 12(5): 1303-1317
• Dukes, J. 2003. Burning buried sunshine: human consumption
of ancient solar energy. Climatic Change, 61(31): 31-44
2. The role of exotic worms in the Crum
woods: are there more worms in the west side where the vegetation
of native species is reduced?
• Liu, Z.G. and X.M. Zou. 2002. Exotic earthworms
accelerate plant litter decomposition in a Puerto Rican
pasture and a wet forest. Ecological Applications, 12(5):
• Levine, J.M. et al. 2003. Mechanisms underlying
the impact of exotic plant invasions. Proceeding s of the
Royal Society of London. B, 270: 775-781
3. How to re-vegetate the open lands in
and around the Crum woods? What are the benefits of doing
4. Any other suggestions?
Research Proposal: Final paper for BIO 137