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