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Past Winner
2010 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship

Diane Srivastava

Zoology

The University of British Columbia


Diane Srivastava
Diane Srivastava

How much of an impact can specific species have on their environments? Diane Srivastava, a researcher with The University of British Columbia's Department of Zoology, is exploring the relationship between species and their ecosystem. Her findings will shed significant light on the delicate balance of animals and their environments, and the far-reaching impacts of extinction.

Dr. Srivastava is examining how ecosystems are affected by the species within their food webs and the impact a specific species can have within that web. To do this, she will conduct similar experiments at three sites located in Central America, the Caribbean and South America using bromeliads, a plant family that includes pineapples. Bromeliads provide a micro-ecosystem for Dr. Srivastava, as they contain small aquatic food webs consisting of bacteria, mosquito larvae, detritivore insects and predatory insects, though the exact species can differ drastically from region to region. For instance, damselfly larvae are present in Brazilian and Costa Rican bromeliads, but not in their Caribbean counterparts.

The plants will be dissected and their food webs censused by the research team to determine the species contained within. By comparing how these differences in species between regions affect the functioning of the bromeliad, Dr. Srivastava will have the perfect opportunity to determine the impact the presence or absence of any particular species has on the bromeliad ecosystem.

The information Dr. Srivastava gathers will inform policy regarding animal conservation and ecosystem management, and provide a better understanding of the interaction between all forms of life.