University of Vermont

Taylor Ricketts Lab

tricketts projects


Below is a sampling of current projects, which range from field studies to modeling exercises, and from local Vermont work to global efforts. All tend to combine natural and social sciences and to link rigorous research with real-world conservation problems.

Crop pollination services - ecology and economics

Research assistant working on pollination research

Roughly 70% of the world's most economically important crops benefit from animal pollination. As managed honeybees decline in North America and elsewhere, it has become increasingly important to understand how communities of wild bees provide pollination services and what determines their dynamics in agricultural landscapes. We conduct field studies in Vermont and elsewhere to understand the ecological importance and economic value of crop pollination services. We work with a global group of collaborators to distill general lessions from these field studies. And we are developing simple models that predict pollination services across agricultural landscapes and are using them to estimate consequences of land use change. We aim to use these models to support land use decisions and policies both in Vermont and around the world.

Key collaborators:
Eric Lonsdorf, Claire Kremen, Jim Regetz, Rufus Isaacs, Neal Williams, Vermont farmers, Leif Richardson

Key publications:

Nicholson, C.C., I. Koh, A. Beauchemin, L.L. Richardson, and T.H. Ricketts. 2017. Farm and landscape factors interact to affect the supply of pollination services. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 250: 113-122. PDF

Koh, I., Lonsdorf, E. V., Williams, N. M., Brittain, C., Isaacs, R., Gibbs, J. & T.H. Ricketts (2016) Modeling the status, trends, and impacts of wild bee abundance in the United States. Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1517685113 PDF

Ricketts, T.H., E. Lonsdorf (2013). Mapping the margin: Comparing marginal values of tropical forest remnants for pollination services. Ecological Applications 23(5): 1113-1123. PDF

Garibaldi, L.A., et al. (2013). Wild pollinators enhance fruit set of crops regardless of honey-bee abundance. Science 339(6127): 1608-1611. PDF

Ecosystem Services: ecological dynamics and economic values

inVEST workshop

Ecosystems provide multiple interacting services that support human economies and livelihoods (e.g., carbon storage, water purification, recreation opportunities, coastal protection). We collaborate widely to map sources of ecosystem services across landscapes, estimate their economic value, quantify trade-offs among them, and predict consequences of likely land use and climate change. This work includes spatial cost-benefit analyses for forest conservation across regions, as well as global studies to analyze the congruence of important regions for ecosystem services and biodiversity. We are part of the Natural Capital Project, a collaboration among universities and NGOs to develop simple models to map and value ecosystem services and to apply them around the world to support conservation. The ultimate goal of this work is to make quantifying ecosystem services so straightforward and routine that they are mainstreamed into all major resource decisions by governments, banks, and NGOs.

Key collaborators:
Andrew Balmford, Elena Bennett, Gretchen Daily, Brendan Fisher, Peter Kareiva, Robin Naidoo, Steve Polasky, Mary Ruckelshaus

Key publications:

Ricketts, T.H., Watson, K.B., Koh, I., Ellis, A.M., Nicholson, C.C., Posner, S., Richardson, L.L. and Sonter, L.J., 2016. Disaggregating the evidence linking biodiversity and ecosystem services. Nature communications, 7, p.13106. PDF

Sonter LJ, Watson KB, Wood SA, Ricketts TH. Spatial and temporal dynamics and value of nature-based recreation, estimated via social media. PLoS one. 2016 Sep 9. PDF

Watson, K.B., Ricketts, T.H., Galford, G., Polasky, S. & J. O’Neil-Dunne (2016) Quantifying flood mitigation services: The economic value of Otter Creek wetlands and floodplains to Middlebury, VT. Ecological Economics 130: 16-24. PDF

Posner, S.M., E. McKenzie, and T.H. Ricketts. (2016) Policy impacts of ecosystem services knowledge. PDF

Ecosystems and Human Health

reef fishing

Ecosystems not only provide economic benefits to people, they support human health as well. Forests, reefs, and wetlands can provide nutrition to rural communities, regulate air and water quality, and control infectious diseases. We collaborate widely to investigate the linkages between ecosystems and human health. With a grant from SESYNC, we are using global health surveys to relate ecosystems, resource governance, and health indicators. In collaboration with UVM's Complex Systems Center, we are using social media to relate exposure to nature with mental health metrics. And as part of the Planetary Health Alliance, a broad consortium of universities and conservation organizations, we are working to strengthen and connect the global community investigating these links.

Key collaborators:
Chris Danforth, Ruth Defries, Brendan Fisher, Chris Golden, Kiersten Johnson, Mark Mulligan, Sam Myers, Steve Osofsky

Key publications:

Herrera, D., A. Ellis, B. Fisher, C.D. Golden, K. Johnson, M. Mulligan, A. Pfaff, T. Truer, T.H. Ricketts (2017). Upstream watershed condition predicts rural children’s health across 35 developing countries. Nature Communications 8: 811. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00775-2. PDF

Ellis, A.M., S.S. Myers, T.H. Ricketts (2015). Do pollinators contribute to nutritional health? PLoS ONE 10(1): e114805. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0114805. PDF

Myers, S., L. Gaffikin, C.D. Golden, R.S. Ostfeld, K.H. Redford, T.H. Ricketts, W.R. Turner, S.A. Osofsky (2013). Human health impacts of ecosystem alteration. PNAS 110 (47) 18753-18760. PDF

Global biogeography and conservation priorities

Global map

Understanding the distribution and abundance of organisms, and the mechanisms driving those patterns, is fundamental to ecology. It also helps identify conservation priorities, understand global extinction dynamics, and optimize research and conservation investment. We continue to explore how biodiversity is distributed, how these patterns relate to important drivers of change, and how this understanding can strengthen conservation efforts. Projects vary from identifying vertebrate species facing most imminent extinction to quantifying levels of global concordance among richness and endemism for different taxa.

Key collaborators:
Andrew Balmford, Neil Burgess, Pablo Imbach, Colby Loucks, Robin Naidoo

Key publications:

Imbach P, Fung E, Hannah L, Navarro-Racines CE, Roubik DW, Ricketts TH, et al. Coupling of pollination services and coffee suitability under climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci . 2017; doi:10.1073/pnas.1617940114 PDF

Brendan Fisher, Andrew Balmford, Paul J Ferraro, Louise Glew, Michael Mascia, Robin Naidoo, Taylor H Ricketts (2013). Moving Rio Forward and Avoiding 10 More Years with Little Evidence for Effective Conservation Policy. Conservation Biology 28(3): 880-882. PDF

Butchart, S.H., et al. (2012). Protecting important sites for biodiversity contributes to meeting global conservation targets. PloS ONE 7:e32529. PDF

Last modified October 10 2017 12:37 PM