RW Moriarty Science Seminar: Emily Meineke
January 27, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Speaker: Emily Meineke
“Novel methods for untangling the history of species interactions”
Insects have been eating plants for nearly 400 million years, and these interactions have given rise to much of macroscopic diversity. Over the past 12,000 years or so, humans have altered these relationships by domesticating plants and moving them beyond their natural ranges, spraying pesticides, building cities, and changing the global climate. Long-term effects of global change on plant-herbivore interactions are of critical importance to ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services. However, effects of global change on these and other species interactions are understudied because longitudinal data spanning the period of anthropogenic environmental change are sparse. Here, Dr. Emily Meineke details two novel methods for determining how interactions between plants and insect herbivores have shifted with global change: citywide urban warming experiments and insect damage preserved within historical plant specimens. Together, these methods reveal that insect herbivore abundance and damage are likely to increase with continued climate warming and urbanization. However, urbanization has complex effects on herbivores that vary across feeding guilds. These results have clear implications for improving the management of urban forests to increase greenness, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.