Jennifer Ruesink

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Jennifer Ruesink's CV
Photo of Jennifer Ruesink

Picture yourself on a windswept rocky coast watching the waves roll across bright molluscs and swinging kelp, or in any land or seascape you know well.Then scroll ahead 30 years in your mind: what will you see? and what can science provide to understand these changes and inform environmental decisions?

Humans currently overexploit 2/3 of fisheries, trawl more ocean bottom than they cut down trees, and transport thousands of species around the globe daily in ship ballast water alone. So it's almost impossible to consider basic and applied ecology as separate enterprises anymore, and many of the more interesting ecological questions occur at their intersection.

Among my current research concerns are: i) thresholds in species interactions: although fishery collapses and coral reefs, among others, provide evidence of nonlinear change, we know little about how common thresholds are or what causes them. ii) introduced species: any suitable species will invade a new area if biogeographic barriers are sufficiently reduced, but predicting a species' impact remains elusive. iii) energy sources supporting estuarine productivity: the "textbook" model of an estuary derives energy from terrestrial inputs. Here on the west coast, however, summer droughts and strong upwelling reverse the relative importance of ocean- and land-derived food in some locations. How common are these backwards estuaries, and how will they fare in the face of global change?

As in the rest of the department, context takes precedence over specific questions or systems: using experiments to reveal mechanisms underlying biotic patterns, with hypotheses framed and tested quantitatively. I expect students to motivate and design their own theses, but also provide opportunities for group side projects on local politically-charged marine issues: oil spill response, coastal development, aquaculture, protected areas. My aim is to foster independent but collaborative, creative scientists.

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Jennifer Ruesink's Publications: Link
UW Biology | University of Washington
Created by Lee McCoy, Updated by Jerome Tichenor, March 19, 2013