Mapping a way forward in the face of global change
Global change broadly refers to large-scale changes in the Earth’s system, which is made up of such elements as land, water, plants, atmosphere, and the polar regions. Understanding how species will respond to global change is a central challenge in ecology because their health is vital for the overall ecosystem and the survival of humans.
To understand and predict the impact of global change on animal movement and the survival of isolated populations of the same species, for instance, the field of spatial ecology examines everything from the size of the “patch” where animal communities live to the predators that threaten the survival of their prey. Spatial ecology also examines their adaptability to changes in climate, food availability, disease as well as their reproduction rate.
Through her work, Marie-Josée Fortin, Canada Research Chair in Spatial Ecology, will provide ecologists with novel network analytical methods that can be used to propose ways to facilitate the dispersal of species in fragmented landscapes, maintain the resilience of ecosystem services, or prevent the spread of disease.
This will lead to unique perspectives on how to address fundamental issues in the field of conservation biology by making novel network analytical models available to ecologists and evolutionists. This will allow for analysis and modeling of the complex spatial dynamics of the interactions of species across ecosystems.
Collectively, these models will have important implications for the protection of biodiversity and its role in maintaining ecosystem functions as well as human health. This research will also significantly contribute to advancing the fields of conservation biology, ecology, evolution, and landscape genetics and epidemiology.