Invertebrate Ecology Laboratory
Ecology is the scientific study of processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms, and their interactions with each other and their physical environment. Research in our laboratory focuses on the ecology of aquatic, riparian, and grassland invertebrates (animals without backbones) in agroecosystems. Current research interests include examining the effect of various aspects of stream, riparian (streamside), and grassland condition on the abundance, diversity and community composition of invertebrates, and how these effects are translated through food webs involving fish and wildlife in adjacent streams and uplands. We focus on invertebrates that are significant providers of ecosystem services (i.e., ecological functions that humans value). Invertebrates provide many essential ecosystem services including pollinating plants that humans depend on, serving as food for other animals that humans value (e.g., fish, bats, birds), consuming crop pests, and disposing of wastes. Other research interests include using invertebrates to determine the effectiveness of stream and habitat restoration projects (i.e., biomonitoring), studying the effects of invasive aquatic species on aquatic communities, and examining how rangeland practices and grassland restoration impacts invertebrates and the services they provide. For more information contact Sandy DeBano or Dave Wooster.