Environmental ecology for macro-ecologists (and vice versa)
Peter Steinburg (University of New South Wales, SIMS)
Microbes constitute most of the diversity and biomass on the planet. However, they have traditionally been largely overlooked in the development of ecological theory, and ecologists who study big things (barnacles, seaweeds, fish) mostly do not interact with environmental microbiologists. This is to the detriment of both sides.
One reason for the schism is that historically culture based tools restricted the ability of ecologists to identify and quantify 90%+ of the microbes in an environmental sample. With the now widespread – and increasingly inexpensive – use of molecular tools such as DNA fingerprinting and metagenomics, the situation has changed radically and we are discovering previously unheard of levels of diversity and remarkable new functions of microbes in the world’s oceans.
This symposium will focus on how the use of these new tools is increasingly opening up the interface between environmental microbiology and eukaryotic marine ecology, conceptual bridges across the disciplines and what lessons we can learn on both sides. Specific topics could range from diversity models, disease, larval settlement, grazing systems, bio-prospecting and others.