October 11, 2011 – "Catchers in the Rye: Ecology, Society, and Climate Change
Joshua Tewksbury, Walker Professor of Natural History, Department of Biology, University of Washington
With the human population now exceeding seven billion, links between ecosystem conditions and human health, security, and well-being are increasingly clear. Human activities continue to alter natural systems at local through global scales, and these actions feedback to profoundly affect society. Ecology has an important role to play in managing these links, as our capacity to reliably forecast the consequences of our actions will depend on a detailed understanding of the specific properties of ecological systems (e.g. ecology and natural history). And yet ecology, as a discipline, will need to more expansive, collaborative, and responsive if it is to have a strong voice in directing our response environmental issues. Here I describe attempts in my lab to address these issues. I focus primarily on the impacts of climate change, at scales ranging from thermal physiology of insects to global food security. The research I describe provides an example of the importance of broad collaborative frameworks that are often needed for ecology to influence policy. Throughout, I focus on the importance of integrating specific knowledge (natural history) with portable knowledge (general mechanism and theory) as a blueprint for an ecologist's contribution to evidence based decision making.