University of Vermont


Friday May 8, 2015
Seminar And PhD Defense

Native Bees and Working Landscapes: The Influence of Agriculture on Pollination
By: Charlie C. Nicholson

Friday, May 8th 2015
Seminar: (10:00, Aiken 311)
Defense: (11:00, Aiken 311)

Taylor Ricketts, Professor, RSENR, Advisor
Alison Brody, Professor, RSENR, Chair
Jennifer Pontius, Research Assistant Professor, Biology
Nicholas Gotelli, Professor, Biology

The increase in global food production has come at the cost of biodiversity loss and impaired ecosystem services. Managing agricultural expansion and intensification holds promise as means to decrease impact on the natural systems on which human wellbeing ultimately depends. Pollination is a critical ecosystem service for crop production that can be improved by conserving mobile organisms, including but not limited to bees. Pollination management requires a landscape perspective, yet to-date conservation efforts have been limited by a lack of information about the local and landscape factors that most directly influence the activity and biodiversity of pollinator communities. To address this information gap I will identify the spatial scale and landscape attributes most relevant to pollinator conservation. Farm-level decisions are important as well; building on current models, I will improve our ability to predict pollinator response to land management scenarios. Moreover, I propose to expand our understanding of the benefits of pollinators in agricultural landscapes by testing whether there are effects on adjacent native plant reproductive success. Finally, I will examine the differential response of pollinator communities to ordered and random extinctions in order to demonstrate the potential stabilizing effect of biodiversity for ecosystem services. The results will provide land managers with explicit information about the effects of landscape conservation for pollinators, as well as the forgone benefits that result from biodiversity loss.
Tuesday May 19, 2015
Seminar And PhD Dissertation Defense

The Impact of Ecosystem Services Knowledge on Decisions
By:Stephen Mark Posner

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Seminar: 10am, Gund Conference Room
Defense: 11am, Gund Conference Room

Taylor Ricketts, Professor, RSENR, Advisor
Asim Zia, Professor, CDAE, Chairperson
Jon Erickson, Professor, RSENR
Walter Poleman, Senior Lecturer, RSENR


The need to protect diverse biological resources from ongoing development pressures is one of today’s most pressing environmental challenges. In response, “ecosystem services” has emerged as a conservation framework that links human economies and natural systems through the benefits that people receive from nature. In this dissertation, I investigate the science-policy interface of ecosystem services in order to understand the use of ecosystem service decision support tools and evaluate the pathways through which ecosystem services knowledge impacts decisions. In the first paper, I track an ecosystem service valuation project in California to evaluate how the project changes the social capacity to make conservation-oriented decisions and how decision-makers intend to use ecosystem services knowledge. In a second project, I analyze a global sample of cases and identify factors that can explain the impact of ecosystem services knowledge on decisions. I find that the perceived legitimacy of knowledge (whether it is unbiased and representative of many diverse viewpoints) is an important determinant of whether the knowledge impacts policy processes and decisions. For the third project, I focus on the global use of spatial ecosystem service models. I analyze country-level factors that are associated with use and the effect of practitioner trainings on the uptake of these decision support tools. Taken together, this research critically evaluates how ecosystem service interventions perform. The results can inform the design of boundary organizations that effectively link conservation science with policy action, and guide strategic efforts to protect, restore, and enhance ecosystem services.
Monday May 25, 2015

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