A central problem in ecology is to quantify the flow of energy and materials within and among ecosystems. Tracking these flows helps unravel the functional structure of ecological systems and allows us to diagnose the factors that control change and stasis. Because I am interested in energy flow, species interactions, and adaptation, I often meld biochemical with morphometric and phylogenetic analyses to provide a holistic understanding of the role of energy transport in the assembly and maintenance of communities. My research has three overarching foci, all of which are unified by the common currency of energy and its role in organizing ecological communities. By quantifying niche breadth at multiple levels of biological organization –– individuals to communities –– I am generating unique information to better understand the energetic basis of community assembly and structure. Second, I often adopt a deep temporal perspective that compares species interactions in modern and ancient ecosystems to provide unique information on the true range of behavioral and ecological flexibility important for long-term management and conservation strategies. Third, my use of chemistry (stable isotope analysis) to quantify energy flow requires knowledge of how individual organisms assimilate and metabolize the elements they consume and use them for tissue biosynthesis. Thus, I have started several controlled feeding experiments of vertebrates in the laboratory in which the stable isotope composition of dietary macromolecules can be varied to trace and quantify how animals process protein, lipids, and carbohydrates.
Seth Newsome is the Associate Director of the UNM Center for Stable Isotopes and an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1999, a Ph.D. (primary advisor: Paul Koch) from the University of California–Santa Cruz in 2005, and held two postdoctoral positions before arriving to UNM: the first with Marilyn Fogel at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the second with Carlos Martinez del Rio and Dave Williams at the University of Wyoming. Besides science, he enjoys mountain biking, rafting, fly fishing, and has a soft spot in his heart for old school hip-hop.