Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Center for Environmental Studies
Phone: +1 401 863 9676
My research examines how species invasions and climate change impact native species and ecosystems. I am particularly interested in understanding when species extinctions are likely and what strategies we can take to prevent them from occurring. To investigate these issues I conduct local-scale ecological research and biogeographic synthesis of regional and global patterns. I have also worked with collaborators to model species responses to climate change and to collect paleo-ecological data that informs our understanding of extinction dynamics over longer time periods. My aim is to improve our understanding of ecological systems so that we can inform natural resource policy and management.
My interest in conservation biology was sparked as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, where I investigated the impacts of non-native, eucalypt trees on native biodiversity. As a Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico, I examined the impacts of species invasions on plant diversity at local and global scales. At UC Santa Barbara and the University of Georgia, I explored how biodiversity has changed on oceanic islands around the world as a consequence of species invasions. At Brown, I have continued to investigate the impact of species invasions, but most of my research effort is now aimed at understanding species extinction dynamics, species responses to climate change, and climate adaptation strategies that can conserve natural resources.
Aldo Leopold Fellow (Class of 2009)
International Society of Biogeography; Ecological Society of America
I have previously taught courses (at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Georgia) on Conservation Biology, Species Invasions, Global Change and Global Ecology. At Brown I plan to teach two courses during the 2008/2009 academic year: 1) Conservation Biology and 2) a first-year seminar on climate change and species extinction.
BIOL 1470 Conservation Biology is the scientific study of the phenomena that affect the maintenance, loss, and restoration of biological diversity. Topics covered include: 1) the impacts of global warming, species invasions, and habitat destruction on biodiversity, 2) strategies developed to combat these threats, and 3) a consideration of key economic and ethical tradeoffs. Special attention will be paid to current debate and controversy within this rapidly emerging field of study. Readings will include the primary literature. A term-paper will be required.
BIOL 0190Q - This First-Year seminar will explore the newly emerging issue of how climate change will contribute to species extinctions. Two over-night field trips will familiarize students with how climate influences the distribution of species. Readings from a text book will consider the geographic distribution of species, species immigration, change in climate since the last ice-age, and the geography of previous species extinctions. Most additional readings will be directly from the scientific literature, ones that are too new to be described in text books, focusing particularly on future climate change and species extinctions. A group research project will be conducted, one that aims to perform original scientific research, focusing on questions we can address with data that already exist in online databases. This mini-project will take students through many of the major steps in scientific research and publication, with the goal of acquainting students with the scientific process of discovery.
Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Local Extinctions: A 300 year-Experiment. National Science Foundation, $395,364 (2010-2013). Lead-PI: Sax, D.F. ($695,055 total for collaborative project, with Co-PI Jackson, S.T.).
Toward a General Theory of Body Size Across Space and Time. National Science Foundation, $4,418 (2010-2011). PI: Sax, D.F. ($100,000 total for collaborative project, with Lead-PI Lomolino, M.V.).
Sax, D.F., McLachlan, J.S., and Hellmann, J.J. (2007-2009). Assisted Migration: Evaluating a New Strategy for Species Conservation. Cedar Tree Foundation, $102,000.
Sax, D.F., Hellmann, J.J., McLachlan, J.S. and Schwartz, M.W. (2007-2008). Collaborative Research: Interdisciplinary workshop on assisted migration - August 2008, Milwaukee, WI. National Science Foundation, $14,950 (Sax), $29,900 (total for collaborative project).
Sax, D.F. and Guo, Q. (2007-2008). An early warning system for plant invasions: predicting risk in the context of multiple environmental stresses. US Forest Service, Research Grant, $59,172.
Sax, D.F. (2006-2007). U.S. Graduate Student Travel to the International Biogeography Society Conference. National Science Foundation, $37,100.
Sax, D.F., Gaines, S.D. and Stachowicz, J.J. (2004-2007). Exotic species: a source of insight into Ecology, Evolution and Biogeography. National Center of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Research Project Grant, $58,700.
Lomolino, M.V., Sax, D.F. and Brown, J.H. (2000-2001). The foundations and future of biogeography. National Center of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Research Project Grant, $27,000.
Sax, D.F. (1997). Plant invasions of the Santa Monica Mountains. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Research Grant, $4,100.
Sax, D.F. (1997). Plant invasions of central Chile. Institute of Latin American Studies, University of New Mexico, Travel Fellowship Award, $1,276.
Sax, D.F. (1996-1998). Vice President's Graduate Research Fund & Student Research Allocation Council, University of New Mexico, Travel Awards, $840.
Sax, D.F. (1996-1999). Biology Graduate Student Association, University of New Mexico, Travel Awards, $575.