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This project - jointly funded with the Chinese National Science Foundation (NSFC) - will study the relationships among ecological/evolutionary measures of biodiversity, and ecosystem functions. In particular, the investigators will investigate the hypothesis that succession drives changes in biodiversity, which in turn causes altered ecosystem function. Researchers will study the biodiversity of plant and insect assemblages on islands in the Thousand-Island Lake in China. This man-made lake was created in 1959 as the result of dam construction. As the water level rose, previously continuous terrestrial habitats were fragmented into islands. The project will investigate three dimensions of biodiversity on islands of different successional stages, their interrelationships, and linkages to ecosystem function. Field surveys of plant and insect communities will be combined with experimental manipulations of biodiversity, and laboratory-based functional and genetic analyses of plant and insect samples to examine biodiversity and ecosystem function patterns in this unusual habitat.

The proposed research will allow this international team to gain a better understanding of linkages among the multiple dimensions of biodiversity, ecosystem function, and habitat fragmentation, by taking advantage of the highly replicated, natural, insular environment of Thousand-Island Lake. This project will serve as a long-term platform for collaborations between US and Chinese scientists and students. Results of this study will be disseminated through publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference presentations, and teaching/training activities. The project will provide high-quality research opportunities for young scientists and students through hands-on research and via organized workshops. It will emphasize the involvement of underrepresented groups in science via existing student outreach programs at the researchers' home institutions. The researchers will work with local managers and tourist groups on the Thousand-Island Lake islands to promote public education about biodiversity in the face of habitat fragmentation.


National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology

Chinese National Science Foundation


January 2014 — December 2018