Spring Seminar Series, TODAY with Dr. Brent Hughes (faculty candidate)

Please join the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences for its Spring Seminar Series. The SAFS seminar series consists of weekly presentations by eminent academics, prospective faculty members and the School’s own faculty members. Seminars are free and open to the public.

SAFS brings you a seminar with Dr. Brent Hughes, a candidate for the estuarine/nearshore faculty search in SAFS. Please continue reading for information on the seminar and Dr. Hughes.

TODAY, April 20, 2015 at 4:30 PM  Note different day and time
Social immediately follows

University of Washington
Fishery Sciences Building, Room 102
1122 NE Boat Street
Seattle, Washington (map)

View the full seminar schedule.

For more information, please contact SAFS Front Desk, safsdesk@uw.edu, or 206-543-4270.


Food Webs, Stability, and Functioning of Nearshore and Estuarine Ecosystems in the Northeast Pacific

A primary goal of ecology and resource management is to determine the relative effects of abiotic and biotic drivers on the functioning and stability of ecosystems. My research addresses the complex ways that these biotic and abiotic forces can interact to influence function and stability of dynamic nearshore and estuarine ecosystems, often exposed to intense anthropogenic pressure. Although most experimental and comparative studies to date have highlighted strong physical forcing in coastal systems, ecologists have been mostly limited to comparative studies for assessing the role of top predators. Here, I experimentally show that the recovery of top predators, sea otters, through the restoration of food webs can lead to enhanced functioning and stability across disparate ecosystems, such as seagrasses and salt marshes. I also demonstrate that human threats to coastal ecosystems, in the form of anthropogenic nutrient loading and subsequent eutrophication induced hypoxia, can propagate to adjacent ocean ecosystems with consequences to important ecosystem services, such as provision of biodiversity and fishery production, which in turn are mediated by climatic forcing. In this case, El Niño events across the northeast Pacific modulate hypoxic conditions and the nursery function of estuaries. Taken together, results from my research demonstrate that both top predator recovery and climate can fundamentally regulate ecosystem functioning and stability in the face of extreme anthropogenic stress, which ultimately will inform future research and conservation efforts in the northeast Pacific.


Brent HughesBrent Hughes is a David H. Smith Postdoctoral Conservation Scholar from the University of California Santa Cruz and Duke University. His primary research interest is determining the key biotic and abiotic forces that affect the stability and functioning of coastal ecosystems. Specifically his research examines the interactive effects between food web dynamics, climate, and anthropogenic stressors on the stability of foundation species, such as seagrasses, salt marshes, and kelps. In turn, he studies how variation in coastal foundation species influences the diversity and functioning of ecosystems, such as the provision of habitat for species of ecological and commercial importance. The goal of his research is to better inform management on the drivers of coastal ecosystem stability and resilience. He received his B.A. from Truman State University in 2001, his M.S. from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in 2007, and his Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2014 where he was a National Estuarine Research Reserve Graduate Research Fellow. In between all of these educational experiences he served in the AmeriCrops, was a community college instructor at Cabrillo College where he taught Ecology, a Research Analyst at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ Marine Pollution Studies Lab, and an Estuarine Ecologist at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.


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