MSc, BSc-Honours (University of British Columbia)
Research on ecological effects of climate change has traditionally focused on direct, physiological effects on species; however, we are beginning to recognize its potential to alter ecological communities and ecosystem processes indirectly, by affecting species interactions. Foundation and keystone species exert particularly strong effect on communities, and thus present a high potential to mediate ecological effects of climate change. In Monteverde, Costa Rica, water-filled bromeliads provide habitats (i.e. are foundation species) for diverse invertebrate food webs and occur along a climate (elevation) gradient. The keystone predator (damselfly-larvae) is absent from bromeliads in the relatively cool and wet high elevation bromeliads. Thus, these miniature ecosystems are ideal systems to examine the relative importance of direct and indirect ecological effects of climate change. I am combining observational, experimental, and modeling techniques to tease apart which factors best explain community composition: climate; habitat; or predators. Moreover, I use modeling techniques to predict community and ecosystem changes under future climate scenarios.