Climate change is driving rapid changes in ecosystems globally, and here in California as well. Sophisticated ecological models are being developed to integrate current understanding of how soil properties, landscape position, plant functional traits, and disturbance dynamics interact to determine the structure and function of ecosystems, and how these ecosystems may change in the future. We are using the vegetation demographic model called FATES to simulate changes in California forests over the coming century using climate scenarios that capture the range of future regional projections, including severe droughts. Wildfire is a potential critical feedback that is sensitive both to climate and to the structure of forests. Our modeling seeks to understand how climate-driven changes in drought, wildfire and forest dynamics interact to maintain or transform our landscapes.
Through this project, student(s) will contribute to the application of ecological models under climate change by synthesizing and mapping data on critical soil propoerties, plant functional traits and/or metrics of ecosystem structure. Students will also analyze and visualize model output to derive a deeper understanding of projected ecosystem change.
- Coursework in soil science, ecosystem ecology, forest science, plant physiology, and/or GIS
- Coursework or experience manipulating data in R, Python, or GIS
- Strong quantitative reasoning skills
- Ability to work independently, follow through on commitments, and communicate with mentors in person and/or electronically
- An interest in ecological models