Home Research Publications Courses People Contact Wbiology

Ecosystem Engineering

Clive Jones and colleagues coined the term ecosystem engineer to refer to those species which significantly alter the physical environment. The classic example is the beaver, which, by constructing dams, alters the hydrology of an area, creating new aquatic habitat. An ecosystem engineer modifies the environment via nontrophic interactions (the consumption of trees by beavers is not engineering, though the use of cut trees in assembling dams is). There are many examples of ecological engineers including: leaf rolling caterpillers, canopy trees, earthworms, burrow forming animals and reef builders. In our lab, we describe how the actions of a species on the abiotic environment can alter population dynamics and examine how our management plans should change as a result.


Other Reading