Diversity, ecology, & ecosystem services of urban insect populations
About Dr Amy Savage
Dr. Amy Savage is an Assistant Professor in the Biology department and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Rutgers University-Camden. Dr. Savage is a community ecologist who specializes in the effects species interactions on biodiversity and the ecology and evolution of urban ecosystems. In her research, Dr. Savage strives to meet the needs of basic and applied ecologists simultaneously, by addressing basic ecological questions in systems with management and/or conservation significance. More specifically, she is interested in understanding how the interplay among species interactions, chronic stress, and disturbance shape the diversity, composition and resilience of ecological communities, particularly in the context of rapid human-driven global changes.
The world is becoming increasingly urban, and more than half of the world’s humans live in cities that cover just ~4% of the planet’s terrestrial area. The ecological footprints of cities expand far beyond their borders, and cities are home to species that are likely to have the strongest influences on human health and well-being. It is therefore surprising that we know very little about the ecology & evolution of the species that share our cities. Contrary to popular depictions, cities are not monolithic deserts of concrete populated only by buildings and automobiles. Instead, they are complex mosaics of many different kinds of habitats. A first step toward understanding the ecology and evolution of urban ecosystems is to assess and experimentally evaluate patterns of local diversity, the interaction between community composition and ecosystem processes & services, and the rate of rapid evolution across these different urban habitats. In this talk, I will present research about the diversity and resilience of urban arthropod communities in the face of extreme weather, the consequences and benefits associated with ants feeding on urban food waste, and the influences of different types of species interactions on the diversity and ecosystem services of urban ants.