WICI Speaker's Series: Matt Hammond, "Nature In a Bottle" - Designer Ecosystems Export this event to calendar

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 — 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM EST

‘Designer ecosystems’ may help to achieve sustainability by building the best attributes of natural ecosystems into engineered ones. Past agroecological systems that purposely employed natural complexity for human benefit – from ancient Hawaiian fish ponds to the Biosphere 2 project – highlight the promise and the pitfalls of designing complex systems. Avoiding the pitfalls will only be possible if we apply recent insights into the power of biodiversity and landscape heterogeneity to regulate ecosystems. Among other examples, I will discuss one such application from our lab – a biodiverse, indoor ecosystem that runs on kitchen waste to grow fish and plant crops.

The tension between humans and the environment is an ancient one. Yet the need for sustainable living is greater than ever. ‘Designer ecosystems’ may help to achieve sustainability by building the best attributes of natural ecosystems into engineered ones. But so far designer ecosystems fail to match the complexity and efficiency of their natural counterparts. Past agroecological systems that purposely employed natural complexity for human benefit – from ancient Hawaiian fish ponds to the Biosphere 2 project – highlight the promise but also the pitfalls of designing complex systems. Avoiding the pitfalls is essential and will only be possible if we apply recent insights into the power of biodiversity and landscape heterogeneity to regulate ecosystems. Our lab harnessed eight such sources of natural complexity (species richness, insurance effects, complementarity, habitat heterogeneity, food web topology, refugia, metapopulation dynamics and biological control) to build an indoor ecosystem that runs on kitchen waste alone to grow fish and plant crops. The stable and efficient functioning of this prototype shows that there is a promising future for designer ecosystems so long as we heed past and present lessons on working with complexity.

Meet our guest, Matt Hammond, from 2:00 -2:30 p.m.
Matt will present from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Questions and discussion to follow.

Light refreshments will be served.

Location 
DC - William G. Davis Computer Research Centre
Room 1302
200 University Avenue West

Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Canada

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