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Dr. Hillary Young: Predicting the effects of Anthropocene defaunation on community structure and ecosystem function in changing environments
It is increasingly evident that the current wave of anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss can be a driver, as much as a symptom, of global change. Yet our ability to predict when and where defaunation events will cascade to affect community structure and ecosystem processes remains limited. Drawing on empirical work in two disparate ecosystems, Dr. Hillary Young explores the strongly context-dependent consequences of defaunation on community structure and stability, and ecosystem services – with a particular focus on the impacts for human health. The findings emphasize the importance of abiotic factors in predicting the ecosystem consequences of biodiversity loss, and thus highlight the likely synergistic effects between biodiversity loss and other forms of global change.
Hillary Young, Assistant Professor, is a community ecologist in the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara. Dr. Young received a B.A. degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. She then received an M.A. in Environmental Management at Yale University where she focused on applied forest management questions. Her PhD in Biology at Stanford University examined cascading effects of changes in plant communities on whole ecosystem and community structure. As a postdoctoral researcher jointly affiliated at Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University she examined the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on mammal communities and ultimately, on zoonotic diseases.