©2018 Matthew Luskin

TYPES OF ECOLOGICAL CASCADES

Our lab investigates all types of cascades.

We want to understand how natural and disturbed food webs are structured and regulated.

We ask 'who are the keystone species for maintaining high diversity in this forest?'           

and 'What is the underlying reason forests differ their keystone species guilds?'

Our approach is to collect wildlife data in a range of Southeast Asian forests and quantify food web interactions under different scenarios.

TOP-DOWN 'TROPHIC CASCADE'

Predator loss in small forests or in poached forests releases prey populations. This leads to higher herbivory on plants.

 

(read more about studying predators HERE)

NATURAL ECOLOGICAL CONTROLS

Healthy ecosystems have a balance of top-down and bottom-up process to maintain species populations in a dynamic equilibrium.

 

(read more about ecological controls here)

TOP-DOWN DEFAUNATION CASCADE

Severe hunting (a human top-down predation effect) can eliminate all large mammals. This frees up resources for smaller animals like rodents to increase. Hunting can have less severe impacts on species reproduce fast like pigs, leading to a dominance switch from deer to pigs through apparent competition.

 

(read more about hunting in SE Asia here 

and about defaunation in SE Asia here)

BOTTOM-UP SUBSIDY CASCADE

Extra food during mast fruiting years enables herbivores to successfully reproduce. In the next time-step, predators may benefit from this additional prey and also increase. 

 

(read more about subsidies in SE Asian forests here)

Below - resource subsidies can also be provided to mobile species if they temporarily forage in adjacent ecosystem