UNBC researcher part of plant & animal interaction study

By CKPGToday
February 22, 2019 - 1:48pm

PRINCE GEORGE - A new study, 'Seed predation increases from the Arctic to the equator and from high to low elevations,' was released this week that reveals interactions between plant and animal species are much stronger in tropical regions and lower elevations. 

UNBC Adjunct professor Dr. Sybille Haeussler conducted some of the experiments from Hudson Bay Mountain, near Smithers. Researchers from 13 institutions across the Americas were involved and have deployed 7,000 seed depots distributed from Alaska to the equator. In northern B.C., Dr. Haeussler set up a transect with five sites extending from Highway 16 to the rocky alpine tundra above the Smithers ski resort. 

"Theory predicts that interactions among species — like predation and competition — will be strongest in the warm, productive, biodiverse ecosystems of the tropics and low elevations," says Hargreaves, an evolutionary ecologist in McGill’s Department of Biology. "For example, the spectacular diversity of tropical trees is thought to result partly from stronger interactions between plants and the animals that prey on their seeds, which shapes how and where plants grow and adapt."

"Biotic interactions like those between plant seeds and seed-eating animals form the basis of the complex ecosystems that support human life on earth," says Haeussler, a community-based research scientist stationed at the Bulkley Valley Research Centre in Smithers. "It is essential that we better understand global patterns in these key interactions, given the enormous task of managing and restoring ecosystems under stress from human population growth and climate change."


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