Research Topics Ecosystem Processes
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Tropical Ecosystems |
Sierra Nevada Ecosystems
Sierra Nevada Ecosystems
About this Research:
Climate and Landscape Change
Climate has a profound influence in shaping the environment, natural resources, the economy, and other aspects of life throughout the world. High mountain systems, such as the Sierra Nevada, are uniquely sensitive to anticipated global climate changes and act as "canaries in the coal mine" to provide early signals of significant climate-driven changes. The Sierra Nevada Research Center is responding to this environmental issue with a research team that addresses issues ranging from basic research on ecological response to climate and landscape change to applications in national forest management, conservation, and restoration.
Subproblem 1: High-Elevation Forest Response to Climate Variability of the Past 4000 Years.
One particular emphasis for SNRC is on upper montane and subalpine habitats of the Sierra Nevada. In these areas, other ecological forces such as fire and disease play lesser or more readily defined roles than in mid- and low-elevation communities, and thus the role of climate may be discerned with clarity. Because global and regional climates cycle on century-long scales, current and future changes cannot be understood except in the context of background oscillations and their ecological impacts. Research studies of the SNRC Team seeks to improve understanding of the fundamental effects, magnitudes, and interactions of century-scale climate change on high-elevation Sierra Nevada forests.
Regional Climate Variability and High-Elevation Forest Response Over the Past 4000 Years
Rock Glaciers and Periglacial Rock-Ice Features in the Sierra Nevada
Medieval Forests, Volcanism, and Response to Climate
1000 Years of Forest History in the Glass Creek Watershed, Eastern Sierra Nevada
Genetic Variability in Pinus albicaulis at Treeline in Relation to Patch Age, Vegetative Layering, and Climate Variability
The Impact of the Neogene (late Tertiary) on Biogeography and Evolution of Conifers in Western North America
Quaternary Biogeography of Pacific Southwest Tree Species
Subproblem 2: 20th and 21st Century Climate Effects on Montane Forest and Meadow Ecosystem
Research at this scale serves both basic and applied needs. The foundational research on historic pattern and process provides the context to understand interannual- to decadal- change in the 20th and 21st centuries. The SNRC Team strives to understand short-term natural and anthropogenic climate changes, their effects on mid and high-elevation vegetation, and impacts relative to other ecological drivers of change. At this scale, complex interactions with human land-use, both modern, and historic, confound evaluations of ecological trends, and the SNRC Team plans studies that enable these multiple influences to be unraveled.
Response of Subalpine Conifers to 20th Century Climate Variability in the Sierra Nevada
Subproblem 3: Interpretations of Available Scientific Information and Applications to Ecological Restoration, Conservation and Management
In addition to coordinated research efforts described above, the SNRC Climate and Landscape Research Team has a major emphasis to develop the infrastructure and support, and to interpret and apply climate change knowledge to societal benefit. These efforts are conducted as individual case studies, as well as proposed integrated assessments that the SNRC is spearheading. Proposed interdisciplinary studies would integrate scientists within and outside the Center and involve participation from the management community.
CIRMOUNT-- The Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains