The theme of my research is ecosystem dynamics of multiple simultaneous anthropogenic stressors and their complex interactions in marine, coastal, estuarine, and wetland systems. With my research, I aim to understand, describe, and communicate the mechanisms and feedback loops of these complex interactions. My research program will increase understanding of these interactions by focusing on three related but separate questions: 1) How do multiple human-related stressors interact, affecting resilience of primary producers and filter feeders in wetlands, estuaries, and coasts? How do biotic responses interact to produce feedback loops? 2) Are there quantifiable levels of stressors – either individually or in concert – beyond which a ‘tipping point’ occurs such that ecosystems are no longer capable of absorbing change against a background of complexity and/or variability? Are such levels inherent or variable? If variable, on what do they depend? 3) How can indicators and communication efforts improve to bridge science and policy communities at appropriate magnitudes and temporal-spatial scales? Answering these questions enables more accurate prediction of responses to stressors. I will address such questions by ecological synthesis studies, modeling ecosystem response to stressors and resiliency, and improving indicators and warning signals. These approaches enable decision makers to make wise policy choices to minimize ecosystem degradation, and maximize effective restoration and environmental improvement.
You can contact Ben at ben [dot] fertig “at” ronininstitute [dot] org