Can targeted conservation facilitate recovery of intertwined species?
The Recovery & Resilience Lab at UC Santa Barbara is dedicated to finding out. Its marine ecologists examine how ocean ecosystems bounce back from disturbance and how sustainable management can promote ocean resilience in the face of global change. Using a suite of methods including field studies, mathematical modeling and synthesis, lab members explore the environmental and biological forces governing the recovery and resilience of the ocean.
They'll get a big boost in those efforts from their new colleague, postdoctoral scholar Kurt Ingeman, one of just five recipients of the 2018 David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship. The nation's premier postdoctoral program in conservation science, the Smith Fellowship provides two years of support to outstanding early-career scientists seeking to find solutions to the most pressing conservation challenges. The award is named after the late pediatrician David H. Smith, founder of the Cedar Tree Foundation, and an inventor and conservationist.
"We're thrilled to have Kurt join the lab as a Smith fellow," said Adrian Stier, principal investigator of the Recovery & Resilience Lab and an assistant professor in UCSB's Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology. "This fellowship is a unique opportunity for postdoctoral scholars to generate creative solutions to pressing conservation challenges by collaborating across traditional academic boundaries and working closely with established researchers in nongovernmental organizations and federal agencies."
Each fellow's research is conducted in partnership with a major academic institution and an "on the ground" conservation organization to help bridge the gap between theory and application. Ingeman's project, "Ecosystem-based recovery: Coordinating predator-prey management to optimize conservation outcomes and
accelerate restoration of marine food webs," will be conducted under the mentorship of Stier and in partnership with Jameal Samhouri of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Jodie Toft of The Nature Conservancy.
"The project will be a synthesis of the recovery trajectories of predators-prey pairs in the north Pacific, such as rockfish and lingcod, a long-standing challenge in conservation biology," Ingeman explained. "Using strategic modeling to explore how recoveries vary as a function of species characteristics and how those species interact, I will also analyze how management decisions can shape the success of those recoveries. The goal of the project is to find win-win solutions, because sometimes conservation opportunities for one species can create a challenge for another species."