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STEAM Cafe

"Life After Death: Ecological Impacts of Animal Decomposition" presented by Sarah Keenan, Assistant Professor in Geology & Geological Engineering. In life, animals provide critical ecosystem services and live within complex trophic networks, transporting nutrients to/from other organisms. After death, animals continue to play an essential role in ecological processes by releasing material held within soft tissues back to the environment through decomposition. From a paleontological perspective, decomposition represents the first step in forming our fossil record, yet we know surprisingly little about the timing, rates, and ecological impacts of decay. Following an animal’s death, tissues begin to decompose, releasing fluids, stimulating scavenger activity, and forming a “nutrient hotspot”. The longevity of these hotspots in environments, the consequences of hotspots on cycling of elements like carbon and nitrogen, and the impacts on soil microbial communities are largely unknown. This talk will explore recent research into vertebrate decomposition and highlight the remaining unknowns.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Hay Camp Brewing Company