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Kim M.D. Cuddington

Associate Professor

Kim M.D. CuddingtonBachelor of Science (BSc) Guelph, Master of Science (MSc) Calgary, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Guelph

Email: kcuddington@uwaterloo.ca

Telephone: (519) 888-4567 ext. 33669

Office: Biology 2 241

Lab: Biology 2 241, ext. 31084

Website: ecotheory.uwaterloo.ca

Research interests

Ecosystem engineers

Many important ecological relationships are non-trophic. For example, beavers build dams that determine the hydrology, species composition, and productivity of entire regions. However, almost all ecological theory regarding species interactions and population regulation ignores relations that occur via an abiotic medium. We are engaged in developing and parameterizing models of “ecosystem engineers” in an effort to establish the importance of this pervasive phenomena.

Invasive species

The prediction of which species will become invasive, and which will which will go extinct is hampered by the failure to recognize the importance the variation of environmental conditions and ecosystem engineering. Positive autocorrelation in factors such as temperature my lead to “runs” of good or bad conditions that determine establishment probabilities and spread rates. Moreover, some species may modify environmental conditions such that their success in increased. For example, the aquatic plant Spartina alterniflora alters current flow, sedimentation rates, and ultimately the tidal innudation height of those coastal regions where it occurs. We develop predictive tools of these phenemona and test them using laboratory populations, and field data.

Biological control

Spatial structure in the environment, like the branching morphology of plants, may alter movement, predation, reproductive rates and ultimately, the dynamics, of predator-prey populations. The fundamental mechanism which causes these alterations appears to be the anomalously slow rates of displacement of randomly moving individuals in spatially complex environments. I'm testing whether this "diffusion-limitation" mechanism occurs in a well-controlled, yet realistic experimental system with biological control implications (peas-aphids-insect predators). The work suggests that we can design plants that optimize the ability of beneficial predators to control pests.

Philosophy of ecology

I am interested in the role of metaphor and mathematics in shaping ideas about ecology. I also explore how theories change in the discipline, and what parsimony might mean in the context of ecological theory.

Selected publications

Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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