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Deegan, Linda Senior Scientist


I am interested in the relationships between ecosystem dynamics and animal populations. As the trophic-dynamic model of whole ecosystems gained favor in the 1960's and 70's, the importance of animals in structuring ecosystems was neglected. New interest in the role of animals in ecosystems has been stimulated by work in community ecology that demonstrated that keystone species strongly influence community composition and work as "top-down" controls on productivity. We now know that grazing, predation and physical disturbance by animals can influence a host of processes at the ecosystem level. My research combines the ecosystem perspective of energy and nutrient flows with traditional population and community dynamics. I find aquatic ecosystems to be particularly interesting because of their importance in connecting landscape elements through the flow of water and animals. I have examined problems ranging from the importance of fish in exporting nutrients and carbon from estuaries, to the effect of habitat degradation on fish community structure in coastal embayments, to the response of upper trophic levels to increased nutrients in arctic streams. I use a combination of approaches to address these questions ranging from surveys of fish abundance and species composition to traditional gut content analyses as well as state of the art techniques such as measuring of the natural abundance and flows of 15N tracers in food webs.

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