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Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 12, 2004

Top scientists to honour ecologist at U of G colloquium

Several leading theoretical and field ecologists from around the world will visit Guelph this month to honour longtime zoology professor Peter Yodzis during a research colloquium April 23 and 24 in Rozanski Hall.

The event will mark the retirement and research contributions of Yodzis, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) five years ago. About 18 months ago, he was also injured in a fall.

Departmental colleagues have organized the “Peter Yodzis Colloquium: Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Ecological Systems” to recognize his research in theoretical ecology, specifically in using mathematics and modelling to help explain how complex ecosystems work.

Yodzis’s studies have helped highlight the complexity of the natural world and the need for scientists to focus not on one or two species in simplistic models but on food webs containing at least 20 species, said zoology professor David Noakes.

A model developed 10 years ago by Yodzis and a former post-doctoral researcher with funding from Forestry Canada has been used by governments in Ontario and Newfoundland to manage forestry operations while preserving populations of small pine marten, an endangered species in Canada. Yodzis’s work is also being used in extensive restoration work in Everglades National Park in Florida.

“People know of Guelph’s influence on ecology in enormous part because of Peter’s work,” said zoology professor Kevin McCann.

Yodzis came to Guelph in 1979 after completing a PhD in mathematical physics at New Mexico State University a decade earlier. After working in Hamburg, he became interested in theoretical ecology and in applying theoretical tools and ideas to the natural world.

The event will include talks by several keynote speakers:

· James Brown, distinguished professor of biology at the University of New Mexico, “A Metabolic Theory of Ecology”

· Don DeAngelis, U.S. Geological Survey and University of Miami, “Feedback Effects Between the Food Chain and Induced Defense Strategies”

· John Harwood, NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit and Centre for Conservation Science, University of St. Andrews, “Multispecies Function and Numerical Responses: What Do They Mean and How Do We Estimate Their Parameters?”

· Kirk Winemiller, Texas A&M University, “Interplay Between Scale, Resolution, Life History and Prediction of Food Web Dynamics.”

Participants must register for the conference by April 15 at

David Noakes
Department of Zoology
University of Guelph
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 52747

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