My early career addressed questions on population-, evolutionary-, and conservation-genetics of conifer forests. Currently my research team focuses on the role of historic and ongoing climate change in high-elevation forest ecosystems of Great Basin mountains, including the eastern Sierra Nevada. We use tools from Quaternary Sciences, primarily dendrochronology, combined with traditional forest ecology to investigate effects of historic climate change on structure, composition, and function of subalpine meadows and forests in the Sierra Nevada and western Great Basin. Our current emphasis is on dynamics of treeline ecotones, with attention to thermal constraints and microclimate feedbacks. As part of the international GLORIA program (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments), we monitor responses of alpine plants to climate change at target regions in California and Nevada. In addition to forest and plant ecology, I am interested in alpine geomorphology, especially periglacial processes related to formation and maintenance of rock glaciers and talus landforms. These features and their thermal relations provide a case study for the role microclimate processes decoupled from regional conditions. As part of these rocky ecosystems, we study American pika (Ochotona princeps) a small rabbit relative that depends on talus and associated vegetation for habitat.
My other research area is the integration of science with policy at the ecoregional and interdisciplinary scale. I am especially interested in communicating and interpreting current research on climate change and its ecological effects in conservation and restoration contexts. In the early 2000s, I joined with colleagues to form the Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains (CIRMOUNT), which I current chair.
Rock Glacier and Related Rock-Ice Feature Inventory for the Sierra Nevada, CA, USA. Our database of locations and attributes is on the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
In the video, Climate Change and the American Pika, I talk about how the small montane mammals in the Eastern Sierra have actually been shown to adapt to the changing conditions.
PIKA INFORMATION: Please write me if you are interested in the latest copy of our pika site-occurrence database. The form we use for rapid-assessment of pika sites is the Pika Survey Form.