Faculty Profile: Dov Sax

Dov Sax
Dov Sax
Associate Professor
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Center for Environmental Studies
Work: +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.

Biography

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.

Grants and Awards

Aldo Leopold Fellow (Class of 2009)

Affiliations

International Society of Biogeography; Ecological Society of America

Funded Research

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.

Teaching Experience

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.

Courses Taught

  • Conservation Biology (BIOL 1470)

Selected Publications

  • Sax, D.F. and Gaines, S.D. (2008) Species invasions and extinction: The future of native biodiversity on islands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105:11490-11497. (2008)
  • Brown, J.H. and Sax, D.F. (2007) Do biological invasions decrease biodiversity? Conservation Magazine 8:16-17. (2007)
  • Fridley, J.D., Stachowicz, J.J., Naeem, S., Sax, D.F., Seabloom, E.W., Smith, M.D., Stohlgren, T.J., Tilman, D. and Von Holle, B. (2007) The invasion paradox: Reconciling pattern and process in species invasions. Ecology 88:3-17. (2007)
  • Mittelbach, G.G., Schemske, D., Cornell, H.V., Allen, A.P., Brown, J.M., Bush, M., Harrison, S.P., Hurlbert, A.H., Knowlton, N., Lessios, H.A., McCain, C.M., McCune, A.R., McDade, L.A., McPeek, M.A., Near, T.J., Price, T.D., Ricklefs, R.E., Roy, K., Sax, D.F., Schluter, D., Sobel, J.M., Turelli, M. (2007) Evolution and the latitudinal diversity gradient: Speciation, extinction and biogeography. Ecology Letters 10:315-331. (2007)
  • Vellend, M., Harmon, L.J., Lockwood, J.L., Mayfield, M.M., Hughes, A.R., Wares, J.P. and Sax, D.F. (2007) Effects of exotic species on evolutionary diversification. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22: 481-488. (2007)
  • Sax, D.F., Stachowicz, J.J., Brown, J.H., Bruno, J.F., Dawson, M.N., Gaines, S.D., Grosberg, R.K., Hastings, A., Holt, R.D., Mayfield, M.M., O'Connor, M.I. and Rice, W.R. (2007). Ecological and evolutionary insights from species invasions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22: 465-471. (2007)
  • Sax, D.F. (2007) Review of "Plants on Islands", Cody, M.L., 2006, University of California Press. Ecology 88:1068-1069. (2007)
  • Smith, K.F., Sax, D.F., Gaines, S.D., Guernier, V. and Guegan, J.F. (2007) Globalization of human infectious disease. Ecology 88:1903-1910. (2007)
  • Gibbons, W. and [Sax, D.F. – principal author of text] (2007) Why not let the aliens take over? Part 2. New York Times Regional News Group (publisher of 14 regional news papers), Sunday, April 22. (2007)
  • Cassey, P., Blackburn, T.M., Lockwood, J.L. and Sax, D.F. (2006) A stochastic model for integrating changes in species richness and community similarity across spatial scales. Oikos 115: 207-218. (2006)
  • Lomolino, M.V., Sax, D.F., Riddle, B.R. and Brown, J.H. (2006) The island rule and a research agenda for studying ecogeographic patterns. Journal of Biogeography 33:1503-1510. (2006)
  • Sax, D.F. and Gaines, S.D. (2006) The biogeography of naturalized species and the species-area relationship: Reciprocal insights to biogeography and invasion biology. In, Cadotte, M.W., McMahon, S.M. and Fukami, T., editors. Conceptual ecology and invasions biology: reciprocal approaches to nature. Springer, Netherlands. (2006)
  • Smith, K.F., Sax, D.F. and Lafferty, K.D. (2006) Evidence for the role of infectious disease in species extinction and endangerment. Conservation Biology 20: 1349-1357. (2006)
  • Brown, J.H. and Sax, D.F. (2005) Biological invasions and scientific objectivity: Reply to Cassey et al. (2005). Austral Ecology 30:481-483. (2005)
  • Sax, D.F., Stachowicz, J.J. and Gaines, S.D. (2005) Capstone: Where do we go from here? In, Sax, D.F., Stachowicz, J.J., and Gaines, S.D., editors. Species Invasions: Insights into Ecology, Evolution and Biogeography. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. (2005)
  • Sax, D.F., Brown, J.H., White, E. and Gaines, S.D. (2005) The dynamics of species invasions: Insights into the mechanisms that limit species diversity. In, Sax, D.F., Stachowicz, J.J., and Gaines, S.D., editors. Species Invasions: Insights into Ecology, Evolution and Biogeography. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. (2005)
  • Sax, D.F., Stachowicz, J.J., and Gaines, S.D., editors. (2005) Species Invasions: Insights into Ecology, Evolution and Biogeography. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. (2005)
  • Rice, W.R. and Sax, D.F. (2005) Testing fundamental evolutionary questions at large spatial and demographic scales: Species invasions as an underappreciated tool. In, Sax, D.F., Stachowicz, J.J., and Gaines, S.D., editors. Species Invasions: Insights into Ecology, Evolution and Biogeography. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. (2005)
  • Sax, D.F., Kinlan, B.P. and Smith, K.F. (2005) A conceptual framework for comparing species assemblages in native and exotic habitats. Oikos 108:457-464. (2005)
  • Brown, J.H. and Sax, D.F. (2004) An essay on some topics concerning invasive species. Austral Ecology 29:530-536. (2004)
  • Brown, J.H. and Sax, D.F. (2004) Geographic gradients in diversity. In, Lomolino, M.V., Sax, D.F. and Brown, J.H, editors. Foundations of Biogeography: Classic Works with Commentaries. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. (2004)
  • Sax, D.F. and Whittaker, R.J. (2004) Dynamics of species diversity. In, Heaney, L.R. and Lomolino, M.V., editors. Frontiers of Biogeography: New Directions in the Geography of Nature. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. (2004)
  • Lomolino, M.V, Sax, D.F. and Brown, J.H., editors. (2004) Foundations of Biogeography: Classic Works with Commentaries. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. (2004)
  • Sax, D.F. (2004) Review of "The Structure and Dynamics of Geographic Ranges", Gaston, K.J., 2003, Oxford University Press. Quarterly Review of Biology 79:100-101. (2004)
  • Sax, D.F. and Gaines, S.D. (2003) Species diversity: from global decreases to local increases. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18:561-566. (2003)
  • Whittaker, R.J. and Sax, D.F. (2003) A 21st century Pangea? The emergence of a new international forum for Biogeographers. Journal of Biogeography 30:315-317. (2003)
  • Sax, D.F. (2002) Equal diversity in disparate species assemblages: a comparison of native and exotic woodlands of California. Global Ecology & Biogeography 11:49-58. (2002)
  • Sax, D.F., Gaines, S.D. and Brown, J.H. (2002) Species invasions exceed extinctions on islands worldwide: a comparative study of plants and birds. American Naturalist 160:766-783. (2002)
  • Sax, D.F. (2002) Review of "Trees and shrubs of California", Stuart, J.D. and Sawyer, J.O., 2001, University of California Press. Diversity & Distributions 8:309-310. (2002)
  • Sax, D.F. (2002) Native and naturalized plant diversity are positively correlated in scrub communities of California and Chile. Diversity and Distributions 8:193-210. (2002)
  • Sax, D.F. (2001) Latitudinal gradients and geographic ranges of exotic species: implications for biogeography. Journal of Biogeography 28:139-150. (2001)
  • Sax, D.F. and Brown, J.H. (2000) The Paradox of Invasion. Global Ecology & Biogeography 9:363-372. (2000)