Paleoecology Lab
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Research Projects
Forest responses to climate change
Species will shift their ranges in response to future climate change but the mode and tempo of such changes is largely speculative. The duration of migrational lags depends upon dispersal rates dispersal distances (existence of refugial or disjunct populations) and colonization success. We address these biogeographical questions using a retrospective approach involving statistical treatment of pollen and macrofossil data and quantitative climate reconstruction using a variety of paleoclimate proxies from lake sediments. Specific projects under this theme include:
  • The Clearwater Refugium of northern Idaho. Was this area of disjunctions and endemism in the "inland temperate rainforest" established by long-distance dispersal from coastal populations or in situ persistence in refugia? Funding from the National Science Foundation.
  • Fire-mediated forest compositional change in infrequent-fire ecosystems on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State.
Forest disturbance regimes: a long-term perspective
The historical range of variability of disturbance regimes is an important baseline to guide ecosystem management and to aid studies of ecosystem dynamics and species coexistence. For forest disturbances the observational record does not adequately characterize this variability over time spans relevant to tree life cycles. Paleoecological methods provide unique long-term data for reconstructing disturbance regimes.  
Tree-ring records of forest growth and disturbance dynamics
A persistent challenge to the study of growth rates of tree species is attributing causal factors to long-term growth trends. Factors affecting growth rates vary from simple mechanisms such as stand dynamics and the natural growth trends of trees to insect outbreaks soil nutrition climate and interactions of all these factors.