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K-State Today

April 14, 2022

Matt Whiles to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Matt Whiles, professor and chair of the soil and water science department at the University of Florida, will present his research "Assessing the Ecological Consequences of Declining Freshwater Biodiversity: Impacts of Catastrophic Amphibian Declines on Central American Streams" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 18, in 221 Ackert Hall. The seminar is also available via Zoom.

Amphibian populations have declined dramatically around the world in the last two decades, with catastrophic losses occurring even in relatively undisturbed regions of the tropics. Many of these declines have been linked to infection by a chytrid fungus. The Tropical Amphibian Declines in Streams, or TADS, project team followed a disease wave moving through Central America in order to quantify the ecological consequences of these sudden losses of consumer diversity from tropical streams. Using techniques from small-scale tadpole exclusion manipulations to whole stream addition of a Nitrogen-15 tracer, the TADS project has demonstrated that healthy stream-breeding amphibian populations influence ecosystem structure and function in a variety of direct and indirect ways. Pre- and post-decline studies show numerous ecological responses to declines, including increases in algal biomass, changes in invertebrate communities, reduced nutrient uptake rates and declines in riparian predators. These field-based studies of the whole stream reach provide insight into the ecosystem-scale consequences of the current biodiversity crisis.

If you would like to visit with Whiles, please contact Walter Dodds at wkdodds@k-state.edu.