Holly V. Moeller
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
DATE: Wednesday, February 10th 2016
TIME: 4:00 – 5:30pm
PLACE: 126 Barrows Hall
TITLE: Trade, Borrow, or Steal: Acquired Metabolism in Community Ecology
ABSTRACT: An organism’s ecology is fundamentally constrained by its metabolism, which determines its ability to take up and transform sources of material and energy. What if an organism’s metabolism could be extended, within its lifetime, through interactions with other species? My talk explores this “acquired metabolism,” which may be obtained through gene transfer, the theft of cellular machinery, or the formation of metabolic mutualisms. I describe how such acquisitions can transform the fundamental niche of a species, with implications for community dynamics and ecosystem function, and highlight how our understanding of this phenomenon can contribute to a broader theory of community ecology.
BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Holly Moeller is a community ecologist and biological oceanographer who combines mathematical models with field and laboratory studies to develop new ecological theory. Her research on organism metabolism spans both terrestrial and marine systems, with an especial focus on how microbes mediate key energy and material transformations. As an environmental scientist, she seeks to connect her basic science research to its applications: For example, her projects have focused on invasive species, and on fisheries management. Holly is currently an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she studies the unusual and fascinating lives of marine planktonic mixotrophs–single-celled organisms that make their livings by combining photosynthesis and heterotrophy.