Historical contingency across habitat generations
contributed by Tadashi Fukami @TadashiFukami
Agriculture, Animals, Bacteria, Community ecology, Competition, Ecology, Experimental, Field, Fundamental research, Fungi, Interactions, Lab, North America, Observational, Plants, Succession, Terrestrial, Theory/Computational
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Toju, Hirokazu, Rachel L. Vannette, Marie-Pierre L. Gauthier, Manpreet K. Dhami, and Tadashi Fukami. 2018. Priority effects can persist across floral generations in nectar microbial communities. Oikos 127:345-352.
Tad is a community ecologist at Stanford University, focusing on historical contingency, or when and why the structure and function of ecological communities depend on the history of species immigration.
PB: Why did you become a biologist?
TF: I grew up near Tokyo, but my parents used to take me and my brothers to my grandparents’ place a few times each year for vacation. They lived in beautiful countryside in Wakayama, and I think my exposure to nature there as a child (tide pooling, insect catching, fishing, bird watching, etc.) was important for me to want to become an ecologist. Another key factor to me was the high-school biology teacher I had, who talked about natural history around the school in every class he taught. Having him as a teacher reinvigorated my interest in ecology.
PB: What is your favorite part about your job?
TF: Talking science with people in the lab
PB: What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are?
TF: Learning, as a non-native speaker, how to communicate well in English.
PB: What advice do you have for aspiring biologists?
TF: I think finding good mentors is important to success.
PB: Do you feel that any dimensions of your identity is invisible or under-represented/marginalized in STEM?
TF: Having grown up in Japan and coming to the US for graduate school, I naturally felt under-represented culturally, but I have been fortunate not to feel invisible or marginalized as a scientist. My mentors, colleagues, and friends have always been nice and supportive throughout my career, for which I am very grateful. This experience makes me want to give back, particularly to younger generations and under-represented groups.
Take home message of study
Once a plant becomes dominated by one type of nectar-colonizing microbe, either bacteria or yeasts, its flowers stay that way throughout the flowering season, due to colonization resistance by bacteria or yeasts against the other.
Microbes we study are in the nectar of Diplacus (Mimulus) aurantiacus flowers at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in California.
Key Research Points
Microbial community structure in Diplacus (Mimulus) aurantiacus flowers, as characterized by ordination (PCoA) on week-1 (a) and week-3 (b) sequence reads. Treatments where Neokomagataea (blue), Metschnikowia (beige), or no microbe (control) (grey) was initially introduced in week 0 are shown. Each data point represents a flower.
Nectar microbes we study can influence pollination of agricultural crops.