Weiss, Amelia: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

College: 
Graduate School
Department: 
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Project Title: 
Invertebrate community structure in aquatic caves of Quintana Roo, Mexico
Project Abstract: 
Resource movements across landscapes play vital roles in community and ecosystem ecology. Resource subsidies—nutrients or energy that flow between ecosystems—can have profound impacts on how recipient communities function. Yet, research on aquatic nutrient dynamics is challenging due to the complexity of pathways linking most aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. By contrast, aquatic cave communities are isolated and rely heavily on subsidized resources, making them excellent models for subsidy research. I propose to examine how subsidy quantity, source, and nutritious quality drive patterns in population size and species diversity in recipient ecosystems. I will survey invertebrate communities and analyze nutrient chemistry in caves along a suspected gradient from marine to terrestrial-dominated resources in Quintana Roo, Mexico. In doing so, I hope to elucidate the resource dynamics that moderate community structure and ultimately generate insights that will help us better protect these hotspots of endemic biodiversity.