Dr. McGarvey Receives Career Grant From NSF
November 24, 2015
Dan McGarvey, Ph.D. has been awarded a National Science Foundation Career Grant for his project entitled, "CAREER: A Size-Based Test of Species-Energy Theory in Stream Ecosystems – Linking Individuals, Communities, and Underrepresented Minorities". Funding will be for five years and will create a rigorous undergraduate research program that will teach basic fieldwork skills in stream ecology to underrepresented STEM minorities, expose them to new environments, and gradually increase minority participation within the ecological/environmental sciences.
Studies of the predictable increase in biodiversity that occurs moving from the poles to the equator – known as the latitudinal diversity gradient – can reveal key drivers of biodiversity. Such knowledge is essential for basic science as well as applied efforts to conserve biodiversity in a rapidly changing world. One hypothesis that is often cited to explain the latitudinal diversity gradient is the species-energy hypothesis: biodiversity may be greatest in the tropics because the basal food resources that sustain organisms are most abundant there. This project will perform a direct test of the species-energy hypothesis using stream communities, sampled across a broad latitudinal gradient (10 to 44 degrees north latitude), as a model system. In each of eight study streams, fishes and invertebrates will be intensively sampled. Models of the relationship between average individual size and community-level abundance, which reflect the transfer of energetic resources between predators and their prey (large predators are less abundant than smaller prey), will then be used to test the species-energy hypothesis.
VCU Rice Rivers center extends hearty congratulations to Dr. McGarvey and his team.