Predatory Spiders in the Arctic Food Web
Meet the Team
Teacher - Nick LaFave
Nick LaFave is a National Board Certified Teacher who has been teaching science since 1997. He currently teaches Environmental Science in Clover, South Carolina. Mr. LaFave grew up close to the New York/Canada border between the St. Lawrence River valley and the Adirondack Park. Walking out the door of his childhood home to explore the nearby woods, or fish the river sparked a lifelong passion for learning about nature. Mr. LaFave uses a hands-on approach to teaching Environmental Science. He and his students manage a nearly 100 acre "outdoor classroom" where some of the unique learning opportunities include monitoring fish populations and water quality, studying turtle populations, and raising tilapia to control nuisance plant species. He also encourages his students to be active participants in community service. Outside the classroom, Mr. LaFave spends his time playing hockey, golfing, attempting to play guitar and mandolin, hiking, and camping with his wife (also a teacher) and daughter.
Researcher - Amanda Koltz
Amanda Koltz is a PhD candidate in ecology at Duke University under Dr. Justin Wright. Her research focuses on the relationship between community and ecosystem ecology (e.g. how species interactions can affect key ecosystem processes like decomposition and nutrient cycling). For her dissertation research, she is exploring how climate-induced changes in predatory spiders are influencing the structure and function of food webs in the Arctic. You can learn more about Amanda's research here.
Where are They?
What are they Doing?
For example, In the Alaskan Arctic, wolf spiders are the largest and most abundant invertebrate predators. A shift in their ecological role could therefore have an important impact on the entire food web. Evidence from Arctic Greenland shows that wolf spider body sizes are becoming larger in response to longer growing seasons. These increases in body size will likely lead to larger spider populations, which could imply an increase in predation on the rest of the community.
This project explores the role of wolf spiders within arctic communities and specifically, whether climate change is stimulating changes in these predators that could influence the structure and functions of arctic food webs. The research team will be using a variety of methods to examine the impact of wolf spiders, including sampling spiders from various locations around Toolik Lake and carrying out a manipulative experiment that looks at the entire food web.
|3,290 Miles From LI: Arctic changes, local impacts||4 August 2011||Newsday reporter Jennifer Smith blogs dispatches from Toolik Lake, Alaska about science underway at...||Web Link|
|PolarConnect: Public Event with Nick LaFave and the Predatory Spiders Expedition||In this one hour webinar, PolarTREC teacher Nick LaFave conducts live event for students and the...||Video|
|Arctic Ground Squirrels with Michael Sheriff||In the field with Michael Sheriff of the Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska...||Video|
|PolarConnect: Professional Development with Nick LaFave and the Predatory Spider Expedition||In this one hour webinar, PolarTREC teacher Nick LaFave conducts professional development for...||Video|
|Nick LaFave||Meet PolarTREC teacher Nick LaFave||Polar Profile|
|Flying over the Tundra||Giving a sense of how vast and open this treeless landscape is from a helicopter. Video by Nick...||Video|
|Nick LaFave and the Predatory Spiders Expedition: Public Event||17 July 2012||In this one hour webinar, PolarTREC teacher Nick LaFave conducts live event for students and the...||Event|
|Nick LaFave and the Predatory Spiders Expedition: Professional Development||9 July 2012||In this one hour webinar, PolarTREC teacher Nick LaFave conducts professional development for...||Event|
|Amanda Koltz||4 July 2012||Meet PhD student Amanda Koltz and learn about what motivated her to study science and research...||Polar Profile|
|Fish Pre-Op||Fish Pre-Op: Anesthetizing Fish with the FishScape Project. Video by Nick LaFave. To learn more...||Video|