Ecology and Organismal Biology
Climate change. Pollution. Biodiversity Loss. Invasive species. Habitat fragmentation. Disease emergence. These are a few of the topics being addressed by faculty in the Ecology and Organismal Biology group at Virginia Tech. This group includes faculty from seven departments and four colleges (Science, Natural Resources and Environment, Engineering, and Agriculture and Life Sciences). In addition to applied research, numerous members of this group are also engaged in research addressing more fundamental questions in ecology and organismal biology. These include questions relating to animal behavior, stress physiology, biomechanics, carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems, and community structure and function. Researchers work in wide array of systems, from Virginia to the Andes to Antarctica, and with a diverse array of organisms, including everything from microbes to plants to birds to “flying” snakes.
In the first year of funding, support from the Fralin Life Science Institute is primarily promoting collaborative research for graduate students within this group. Recently funded graduate student projects include: a survey of parasites in Virginia streams in relation to water quality, an examination of the role of bacteria and archaea in nitrification in soils of varying pH, and an investigation of the impacts of an invasive, introduced tree on native plants.
In the future, funding will also support summer research experiences for undergraduates, graduate student recruiting, and statistics and mathematical modeling workshops on campus.