Although a difficult task, Dr. Dreyer knows it is critical to comprehend ecosystem functions, or all of the biological, geochemical, and physical processes that take place in an ecosystem, in order to identify and maintain ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are defined as any positive benefits ecosystems provide to people. For example, there are numerous essential ecosystem resources: food, drinking water, lumber, and clothing, to name a few. Ecosystem services focus on how ecosystems benefit humans and where humans fit within the ecosystem. Working with an ecosystem services framework places the wellbeing of humanity at the center of efficient and sustainable ecosystem function. Dr. Dreyer focused most of his graduate work around an Icelandic aquatic ecosystem. He studied the emergence of midges (order: Diptera, family: Chironomidae) from lakes and the effect of their emergence on surrounding terrestrial ecosystems (Dreyer et al. 2012). Midges spend the beginning of their lifecycle as aquatic larvae and emerge from the water upon pupation into their adult, terrestrial form. Following reproduction, the carcasses of adult midges are found surrounding the lakes in varying densities. Dr. Dreyer studied the effect of these densities on terrestrial arthropod communities that could potentially use the nutrients and resources the midge carcasses brought to the ecosystem. He found that increased densities of carcasses led to an increase in detritivores, herbivores, and predators, establishing profound effects of biomass movement across two ecosystems, the aquatic to the terrestrial.
Dreyer, J., D. Hoekman, and C. Gratton. 2012. Lake-derived midges increase abundance of shoreline terrestrial arthropods via multiple tropic pathways. Oikos. 121(2): 252-258.
Morgan Thompson is a 1st year graduate student studying multitrophic interactions of an agroecosystem with Professor William Lamp.