Impacts of Species Interactions
Our work in local coastal systems focuses on how species interactions interact with abiotic factors to shape community diversity and ecosystem functioning. Beginning with a focus on non-consumptive effects, the lab's interest has grown to consider how predators, prey, competitors, and mutualists all interact (sometimes!).
The ability of predators to regulate community structure has long been recognized by ecologists, but traditional views of predation have focused on the consumptive effects of predators (how much they eat) on a single prey. Recently, however, ecologists have increasingly recognized that the mere presence of predators can have vast impacts on a system. We have demonstrated these effects may have been overlooked even in well-studied systems and may be a major pathway by which keystone predators influence communities. These non-consumptive interactions may also be impacted by environmental variation such as habitat complexity and temperature. Our work in marine systems focuses on integrating these fear effects into the larger context of community ecology and management, including recent work considering how predators impact biogeochemical cycles.
Related Articles (* indicate undergraduate author)
Gosnell, J.S., Spurgin, K.*, and Levine, E. Caged oysters still get scared: Predator presence and number influence growth in oysters, but only at very close ranges. 2017. Marine Ecology Progress Series 568: 111–122.
Needles, L. A., Gosnell, J. S., Waltz, T. W., Wendt, D. E., and Gaines, S. D. Trophic cascades in an invaded ecosystem: Native keystone predators facilitate a dominant invader in an estuarine community. 2015. Oikos 124: 1282–1292.
Gosnell, J.S., and Gaines, S.D. 2012. Keystone intimidators in the intertidal: non-consumptive effects of a keystone sea star regulate feeding and growth in whelks. Marine Ecology Progress Series 450:107-114.
New work in the lab is focusing on how mutualisms in salt marshes impact marsh restoration practices and change across nutrient gradients.