Marine defaunation, or human-caused animal loss in the oceans, emerged forcefully only hundreds of years ago, whereas terrestrial defaunation has been occurring far longer. Though humans have caused few global marine extinctions, we have profoundly affected marine wildlife, altering the functioning and provisioning of services in every ocean. Current ocean trends, coupled with terrestrial lessons, suggest that marine defaunation rates will rapidly intensify as human use of the oceans industrializes. Dr. McCauley will discuss management strategies and ways forward to preserve marine wildlife. Though protected areas are a powerful tool to harness ocean productivity, especially when designed with future climate in mind, additional management strategies will be required. Overall, habitat degradation is likely to intensify as a major driver of marine wildlife loss. Proactive intervention could avert a marine defaunation disaster of the magnitude observed on land.
Doug McCauley, University of California, Santa Barbara
In the McCauley Lab we use a diverse suite of methods to answer pressing questions in community and ecosystem ecology. Research in the lab is directed at understanding how community structure influences ecosystem dynamics, in determining how ecosystems are interactively and energetically coupled to one another, and quantifying how humans perturb these dynamics and shape patterns of biodiversity. We engage these questions using tools from the disciplines of community ecology, biogeochemistry, spatial analysis, ecological modeling, conservation biology, and anthropology. An important aim of research in the McCauley Lab is to generate results that both advance the pure science of ecology and that can be of practical service to decision makers responsible for shaping the future of our environment. We conduct research in a variety of ecological contexts (e.g. coral reefs, tropical savannas, Californian ecosystems) pursuing the philosophy that first principles in ecology can be most effectively derived via observation of pattern and process in diverse settings.