Among species interactions-such as mutualism, competition, facilitation, predation, and parasitism-can strongly influence the structure and dynamics of ecological communities, with cascading effects for entire ecosystems. Studies in protected areas have provided ecologists with a rich body of predictions for how these interactions may change ecological dynamics. However, we still have a poor understanding of the interplay between multiple, simultaneous species interactions, particularly in environments with stressful or wildly fluctuating abiotic conditions. We also have a limited understanding of how interactions with humans may change outcomes and consequences of species interactions for ecological communities and ecosystems. 

Cities are among the most rapidly expanding habitats on the planet, and are home to more than half of the world’s humans. They tend to have high levels of chronic environmental stress that vary dramatically across urban habitat mosaics. However, they are still ecosystems, governed by many of the same ecological principles that are found in protected areas. In our lab, we strive to disentangle the complexity of species interactions in urban environments in order to understand the community consequences of species interactions in cities. We experimentally evaluate predictions from the rich literature on species interactions in protected areas.

Savage Lab Projects: Competition & Facilitation between urban ants & rodents; Effects of mycorrhizal mutualisms on arthropod diversity, ecosystem services, and human communities across urbanization and pollution gradients