About Us

We are members of the Andrew Gonzalez lab , in the Biology Department at McGill University.
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why Biodiversity?

Living systems are repleat with variation at every scale and level of organization.  We are interested in how such diversity is maintained (coexistence), and what the consequences of varying levels of diversity are for system dynamics (process rates, functioning, stability).  
How many species are needed for a system to persist for multiple generations? 
How many species can survive without going extinct in areas with limited resources? (coexistence)
How does the number of species affect ecosystem processes such as productivity, stability, or other measures of functioning?
How do ecosystems respond to environmental changes or other external forces such as pollution, fragmentation, or climate change? (stability, resistance, resilience)
How do evolutionary processes affect ecological patterns and processes and vice-versa?

Gazing at Gaia's Navel

On a more philosophical note, studying biodiversity sometimes feels like "navel-gazing", while you are studying minute details of an immense biosphere, of which we are a part.  But, it's like looking at Gaia's navel, which so much more interesting than your own.

A diversity of reasons

Although our lab shares some common approaches to studying biodiversity, we each have our own personal reasons for choosing to work in this field.  We invite you to post your personal reasons in the comments section of this post.

1 comment:

  1. I am personally interested in diversity because I am consistently impressed with how interconnected biological systems are: each gener, cell, individual, and species interacts with other biological units, which is what makes biological systems so complex and interesting. We can not understand even the pieces without understanding their relationships to each other and the context in which they are built and exist.
    I have also learned to appreciate the value of diversity, as a form of insurance, and a necessary building block of adaptation.
    I feel there are lessons for society to be learned in there somewhere, at the very least in terms of the need for biological diversity in the systems we depend on for our own survival (water, food, climate, etc.). Industrial factories may be great at making cars, but have serious drawbacks when it comes to living systems like animals.