The Energy and Resources Group presents research and teaching talks by the five candidate finalists for the Environmental Science faculty position with ERG. The research talks are a part of the ERG Colloquium Spring 2015 series.
Dr. Lara Kueppers
Research Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and
Assistant Research Scientist, UC Merced
“Linking experiments and models to advance prediction of dynamic forest responses to climate change”
Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Venue: 110 Barrows Hall
Time: 4-5:30 pm
Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015
Venue: 202 South Hall
Time: 12-1 pm
Research Talk Abstract
The geographic distributions of foundation species, such as Western US forest trees, are critical to numerous ecological processes and ecosystem services. However, niche models, widely used to project shifts in species distributions with climate change, have not been empirically tested and lack ecological processes critical to understanding rates of change and impacts to forest structure. We established the Alpine Treeline Warming Experiment to experimentally examine effects of climate warming on subalpine tree seedling establishment and physiological performance at subalpine forest margins and in the alpine. We are using data-driven meta-population models to evaluate the long-term population consequences of observed changes in recruitment. In our experiment, recruitment declines with warming near the low elevation limit of subalpine forest and does not increase in the alpine. Both demographic and physiological results indicate that summer soil moisture is a critical factor constraining seedling and population success. Thus, contrary to simple models of upslope shifts with warming, in the absence of additional summer moisture, our models show contraction in the elevational range of subalpine trees over the next 200+ years.
Lara Kueppers is a scientist in the Carbon and Climate Science Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and in the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced. She leads the Alpine Treeline Warming Experiment at Niwot Ridge, Colorado and uses coupled climate-land surface models at regional scales to study climate-ecosystem interactions. Her interdisciplinary research interests include the impacts of climate change on plant populations, communities and ecosystems; climate-ecosystem feedbacks; plant and microbial species effects on ecosystem processes; agriculture-climate interactions; and economic and policy responses to climate change.