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November 2017

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Science Seminar: How Predators and Herbivores Impact Ways Plants Defend Themselves

Science Seminar: How Predators and Herbivores Impact Ways Plants Defend Themselves

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
Event Location
Schmidt Conference Center

Speaker: Colleen Nell, University of California, Irvine

Pre-registration Required
No

Event Details

Our midday seminars are open to the public. Because they are directed to a scientific audience, they are more technical than our evening lectures. To learn more about our free Bay Optimism evening lecture series, visit our evening lecture homepage.

Summary:
Plant-herbivore interactions have traditionally been framed in only two dimensions, focusing on the direct effects of plant defensive traits on herbivores, and the direct effects of herbivores on plants. However, the ecological and evolutionary outcomes of such pairwise interactions depend on the complex ecological communities in which they are embedded. Dr. Nell's work brings new insight into plant-herbivore interactions by bringing in a third dimension: insectivorous bird predators. In this seminar, Nell will discuss (1) plant traits that mediate herbivore resistance through indirect interactions with predators, (2) dynamic feedbacks between plant and predator diversity, and (3) implications of this three-party system for conservation.

11:00AM - 12:00PM
 
 
 
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How soil texture and metals impact carbon storage and wetland microbes

How soil texture and metals impact carbon storage and wetland microbes

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Event Location
Schmidt Conference Center

Speaker: Stephanie Yarwood (University of Maryland, College Park)

Pre-registration Required
No

Event Details

Our midday seminars are open to the public. Because they are directed to a scientific audience, they are more technical than our evening lectures. To learn more about our free Bay Optimism evening lecture series, visit our evening lecture homepage.

Stephanie Yarwood is an associate professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Maryland, College Park, in the department of Environmental Science and Technology. Her research focuses on the ecology of soil microbes, specifically how human activity impacts microbial communities and their functions in wetlands, urban environments, and farming systems. Part of her research involves trying to improve wetland restoration, by understanding the mechanisms that allow for carbon storage in natural wetlands. This research has been conducted in freshwater tidal wetlands, and includes both field observations and manipulative experiments. 

3:00PM - 4:00PM
 
 
 
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Microbial Populations and Biogeochemical Processes Impacting Aquatic Dead Zones

Microbial Populations and Biogeochemical Processes Impacting Aquatic Dead Zones

Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
Event Location
Schmidt Conference Center

Speaker: Sarah Preheim, Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

Pre-registration Required
No

Event Details

Our midday seminars are open to the public. Because they are directed to a scientific audience, they are more technical than our evening lectures. To learn more about our free Bay Optimism evening lecture series, visit our evening lecture homepage.

Summary: Oxygen depletion, which impairs many water bodies in the U.S., deteriorates the habitat of many aquatic animals. Low oxygen also drives microbial processes that alter nutrient cycles (e.g. denitrification) and generate potent greenhouse gases (e.g. methane). Understanding the dynamic chemical and microbial changes occurring in aquatic dead zones will improve computational models that guide remediation efforts. 

In this talk, I will present our efforts to understand how competition, cooperation and infections between microorganisms control the dynamics of microbial populations mediating major biogeochemical cycles impacting aquatic dead zones. First, we used 16S rRNA gene surveys, metagenomic sequencing and a previously developed biogeochemical model to identify microbial populations implicated in major biogeochemical transformations in a model lake ecosystem (Upper Mystic Lake). By looking at co-occurrence patterns of dominant microbes and reconstructing microbial genomes from complex assemblages of microorganisms, we identified additional biogeochemical processes that would significantly alter the predicted chemistry of the lake, if active. We plan to apply a similar strategy to understand microbial population dynamics in the Chesapeake Bay. Second, we are developing a high-throughput, culture-independent technique to identify viral infections in natural microbial populations. Viruses of bacteria (phage) are the most pervasive predators on the planet and can account for almost all bacterial mortality in oxygen deplete dead-zones. Yet, current methods linking viruses to their hosts are poorly suited to assess infection networks and identify specific infections within natural samples. We hope to identify infections with our high-throughput, culture-independent approach to improve our understanding of the impact of viral infections on biogeochemical cycles and trophic structure. Although this method is currently under development, preliminary data suggests the approach can identify specific infections in the environment and reveal the complex network of viral infections in natural microbial communities.

11:00AM - 12:00PM
 
 
 
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