Thursday, August 10, 2017: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Portland Blrm 258, Oregon Convention Center
Kwasi M. Connor, University of Southern California
Samantha Leigh, University of California, Irvine
Sarah E. Gilman, The Claremont Colleges
Species and communities across the globe are experiencing environmental changes that are leading to new and increasing abiotic stressors. An organism’s ability to persist in the face of stress depends in part on its ability to acquire enough energy to mount appropriate physiological responses. Nutritional ecology is defined as the study of the integration of recourse acquisition, bioenergetics and fitness. Energy acquisition is a complex process, operating across multiple organizational scales and encompassing fields as diverse as biochemistry, digestive physiology, and community ecology. We aim to develop a more integrative understanding of how energy acquisition may constrain species’ responses to climate change by initiating a dialog among researchers in these disparate fields.
A fundamental requirement of life is the acquisition of energy, which in turn drives cellular activity and organismal homeostasis. For many organisms, access to resources is inextricably linked to the prevailing environment, which fluctuates along temporal scales of minutes to decades. The breakdown of energy-bound polymers by digestive enzymes is a critical component of energy acquisition processes in disparate organism, from unicellular to multicellular. Contemporary research in the field of digestive physiology has established a new understanding of the effects of abiotic conditions on resource assimilation. It is critical that these ideas are integrated into our growing understanding of how organisms will be affected by climate change.
Environmentally driven changes in resource acquisition by a particular species will cascade across a community via interactions with symbionts, competitors, predators, and prey. These indirect effects may be greater than the direct effects of environmental stress. For example, temperature can affect the foraging behavior of a predator, and subsequent mortality rates experienced by prey. Conversely environmental changes may alter prey growth or survival, fundamentally changing the foraging opportunities of the predator. Simultaneous assessments of environmental fluctuations, energy acquisition strategies, and ecological processes are necessary to fully understand current states of ecosystems and generate accurate predictions of future changes.
Speakers in this session will provide examples across multiple scales of organization, from biochemistry to community ecology in the context of global climate change. Speakers will address perspectives from both physiology and ecology, across terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and draw on examples from microbial, plant, and animal systems.