Bringing theory to real-world ecosystems
Bill Robertson and the Mellon Foundation have invested substantially in ecology, but the impacthas been far beyond the considerable dollars spent. The reasons are in the vision Bill Robertson had, andin his ability to connect people of diverse expertise to provide unification across ecology. Bill invested in people more thananything, but his vision came to fruition through investments in carefully chosen field studies, and a judicious investment in just enough theory to create a broader picture of how ecological systems are organized.
In my case, I only now realize the extent to which Bill’s insightshelped shape the directions my own research took, first in the general theory of spatial patterning, thenin collaborative work with Hal Mooney in the serpentine grassland at Jasper Ridge and with Jane Lubchenco and Bruce Menge in the intertidal, and finally in efforts to understand the structure of savanna ecosystems in South Africa. This lecture will touch on some of the theoretical studies that emerged from these studies, with emphasis on recent work with Carla Staver and Sally Archibald, Lars Hedin and Duncan Menge, in Kruger National Park and beyond.