Disentangling soil food web dynamics in the era of global change

Seminar Details
Thursday, February 9, 2023 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


Matt McCary, PhD
Assistant Professor, Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of BioSciences, Rice University


Contact eebsemaccess@umich.edu for Zoom password at least 2 hours prior to event.
1010 Biological Sciences Building

EEB Thursday Seminar

Our weekly seminar series featuring internal and external speakers in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology. This seminar will be in-person and livestreaming on Zoom (link this page).

Soils contain the most diverse community of organisms in terrestrial ecosystems, with essential roles in nutrient cycling and food-web dynamics. Human-induced disturbances remain a significant threat to the structure and functioning of soil food webs, yet our understanding of how they respond to environmental change is limited. I present two examples (i.e., plant invasion and resource subsidies) of how environmental change can influence soil food web dynamics. First, I show how garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)—a widespread North American plant invader—affects soil food webs by altering fungal composition and biomass. In a second example, I show how aquatic insect subsidies can affect subarctic food webs by adding novel resources, resulting in increased microbial activity, litter decomposition, and plant biomass. Together these two examples illustrate that soil food webs are highly sensitive to resource changes in the environment, leading to shifts in ecosystem processes and plant community dynamics.