We are super excited that SAERI’s Executive Director, Dr Paul Brickle has been awarded the prestigious Ecological Society of America W. S. Cooper award (https://www.esa.org/) with co-authors, which recognises the outstanding scientific paper led by Dulcinea Geoff.
Full paper citation and link: Dulcinea V. Groff, Kit Hamley, Trevor J. R. Lessard, Kayla E. Greenawalt, Moriaki Yasuhara, Paul Brickle, and Jacquelyn Gill (2021). Seabird establishment during regional cooling drove a terrestrial ecosystem shift 5000 years ago. Science Advances, 6(43). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb2788.
The coastal tussac (Poa flabellata) grasslands of the Falkland Islands are a critical seabird breeding habitat but have been drastically reduced by grazing and erosion. Meanwhile, the sensitivity of seabirds and tussac to climate change is unknown because of a lack of long-term records in the South Atlantic. Our 14,000-year multiproxy record reveals an ecosystem state shift following seabird establishment 5000 years ago, as marine-derived nutrients from guano facilitated tussac establishment, peat productivity, and increased fire. Seabird arrival coincided with regional cooling, suggesting that the Falkland Islands are a cold-climate refugium. Conservation efforts focusing on tussac restoration should include this terrestrial-marine linkage, although a warming Southern Ocean calls into question the long-term viability of the Falkland Islands as habitat for low-latitude seabirds.
The Cooper Award
The Cooper Award honours the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession, or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors – such as glaciations and climate history – on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across platforms.