The Alabama Center for Ecological Resilience (ACER) Consortium came together to investigate how biodiversity influences an ecosystem’s resilience, or its ability to resist and recover from disturbance, specifically the ecosystems of the northern Gulf of Mexico to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. ACER is focusing on the coastal ecosystems (marshes, beaches and estuaries) of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Over the next 3 years, ACER scientists will examine the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem resilience across a gradient of oil exposure. Taxonomic, genetic and functional diversity will be considered at several scales and in many different groups of organisms. Experiments will be conducted both in the field and in large-scale controlled environments. Several ecological processes (primary productivity, nitrogen cycling, predation) as well as aspects of ecosystem structure (density, biomass, biodiversity) will be measured. Ecosystem services, such as shoreline stabilization and the availability of habitat, will also be assessed. Research results will not only allow for an assessment of oil spill impacts, but more generally, may also help to predict the impacts of other types of disturbance.
At the recent American Elasmobranch Society (AES) Meeting in June, Emily Seubert, a graduate student in the ACER Consumer subgroup, presented her research titled “Species and functional diversity of apex and mesopredators in the northern Gulf of Mexico.”
Remember back in high school biology when you studied genetics and learned about DNA, nucleotides and gene sequencing? Join us for this week’s Tool Talk as we clear away the cobwebs on gene sequencing and learn how ACER scientists are using this process to study the microbial community composition.