Predatory Spiders in the Arctic Food Web 2013
Meet the Team
Teacher - Nell Kemp
Nell Kemp has been a science teacher since 2001, when she joined the staff of Kenwood Academy in Chicago's historic Hyde Park neighborhood. Ms. Kemp has a bachelor's degree in behavioral neuroscience from Lehigh University and a master's degree in education from DePaul University. She began teaching biology and genetics at Kenwood's high school, but moved over to Kenwood's 7th/8th grade Gifted & Talented program 4 years ago where she currently teaches environmental science and has never been happier. The enthusiasm and creativity of the middle grades is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job, but also the most challenging. Students of this age group tend to have trouble thinking independently so Ms. Kemp pushes students to participate in project-based learning activities and inquiry investigations.
She anticipates that her experience with PolarTREC will show her students that "real" scientists complete their work in much the same way as they do, collecting evidence to support their initial research questions and hypotheses. In addition to exposing her students to accredited scientific research and researchers, Ms. Kemp also hopes that her students will see that there is more to the Polar Regions than reindeer and polar bears…and Santa Claus.
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.
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Where are They?
What are they Doing?
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 function of food webs. In particular, arctic warming could increase decomposition of the large amounts of carbon stored in permafrost soils. Increased decomposition would result in higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane, which are heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Potential shifts in spider feeding ecology as a result of climate change could therefore have important and far-reaching consequences for arctic plant community dynamics and ecosystem processes. This research will examine the extent to which arctic wolf spiders influence the structure and function of food webs and measure whether their impact on the community is changing with warming.