Seth Darnaby Newsome




Why I Do What I Do

In order to curb accelerated losses of biological diversity and interruptions in the natural state of ecological communities,    scientists must understand the factors that control the behavior    and distribution of species over multiple spatial and temporal   scales. This requires research on two complementary areas:

Science needs a baseline understanding of

energy flow among organisms and their    

environments, which is essential for determining

how environmental conditions – natural or

otherwise – have shaped their ecology and



Ecology and conservation require a historic

context to determine if current declines in animal

populations are part of natural cycles forced by

climatic factors, or are unique events driven by

human perturbations of ecosystem function.

Isla Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) Estancia Harberton, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Snowy Mountains, Wyoming


NSF–LTER Proposal Funded! Our proposal entitled “Sevilleta LTER – climate variability and dryland ecotones” was recently funded by NSF–DEB Population and Community Ecology. I will be working with PIs Drs. Jennifer Rudgers, Marcy Litvak, Yiqi Luo, and Tom Miller, in addition to a talented cast of Senior Personnel from UNM on this 5-year project.

NSF OCE-BIO Proposal Funded! Our proposal entitled “The energetic assembly of biological communities: a test with deep-sea wood falls” was recently funded by NSF Biological Oceanography. I will be working with PI Dr. Craig McClain (LUMCON).

NSF DEB-PCE Proposal Funded! Our proposal entitled “Moving beyond causation: the ecological consequences of the Pleistocene extinction of North American megafauana” was recently funded by NSF Population and Community Ecology. I will be working with PI Dr. Felisa Smith (UNM) and Co-PI Dr. Kate Lyons (Smithsonian) on this three year project.

UNM Center for Stable Isotopes (UNM–CSI)! With generous support from the University of New Mexico, the National Science Foundation, and NASA we have created a new interdisciplinary center dedicated to enhancing research and training in the application of stable isotope analysis in the biological, geological, anthropological, and biomedical sciences. Our new website ( has been launched but is still under development.

My use of biochemical proxies to study the flow of energy within and among ecological communities, that I often couple with a deep temporal perspective, provides unique insights into these topics.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Nest    Santa Catalina Island, California

Tessa Changing the Column on the GC-C