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Moriarty Science Seminar: Who Belongs When No One or Everyone Does? Stewarding Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene
March 22, 2021, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Presents: Who Belongs When No One or Everyone Does? Stewarding Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene
Speaker: Nicole Heller
Conserving biodiversity is a scientifically and socially challenging enterprise. This is perhaps especially the case in the early twenty-first century when global environmental changes associated with the Anthropocene are impacting local ecosystems everywhere. Many ecosystems are characterized as novel; meaning they have unique assemblages of species and altered processes due to human land-use and behavior. Dr. Nicole Heller’s research explores the challenges inherent in setting conservation goals and finding effective stewardship practices in a world of novel ecosystems and ongoing global environmental and social change. Here Heller explores this research question in the context of stewarding ant communities in the Hawaiian Islands. The island biota evolved without ants, but over the last few hundred years an assemblage of approximately 60 ant species derived from around the world have become established, and the number of new species continues to rise annually. The ants have major ecological, economic, and social impacts. Determining “what is ‘natural’” and “who belongs” is not easily addressed using standard categories of native versus non-native that often drive conservation decision-making. In this talk, Heller will discuss this general topic area and present some preliminary research findings about this novel ant community and the struggles of people to manage their distribution and impacts.