Talk by Dr. Diane Debinski (Dept. of Ecology, MSU)

1/17/2019  Wilson Hall 1-144  3:10-4:00pm


Understanding the patterns and processes associated with the diversity of life on earth, or “biodiversity” is one of the major areas of study in the field of ecology. Biodiversity is comprised of diversity at the level of genes, species, communities, habitats, and ecosystems. As an ecologist, I have spent much of my career assessing and quantifying biodiversity and then using these data to try to understand how ecological systems change over time, both as a function of natural variation as well as a function of disturbance, management, and climatic variation. In grasslands, my research has focused on evaluating the use of fire and grazing in the context of managing for plant, bird, and pollinator communities. In montane meadows I have been conducting both observational and experimental studies of community responses to drought and environmental variation. In both systems, I have evaluated how communities may be expected to change as a function of climate change. As a lepidopterist, I find myself literally chasing butterflies when I conduct a biodiversity survey. As an ecologist, I have figuratively “chased down” biodiversity patterns and processes using a variety of statistical tools because many of these data sets have attributes that lead them to be considered “messy data.” In this seminar I will present some highlights from my research and use examples of how statistical tools were applied to help interpret biodiversity patterns and processes.