How will species respond to a changing climate?                                   

Our research explores site-scale field data with broad-scale models to improve predictions of species response to climate change 

Hydrologic Refugia
 Microenvironmental impacts on distributions? 

According to the paleoecological record, microenvironments were important in maintaining suitable conditions for the persistence of small populations as climate fluctuated and species distributions shifted over geologic time.   

What role will microrefugia, such as high groundwater or cool north-facing slopes play in migrations with current climate change?

Our studies of valley oak (Quercus lobata), indicate that high groundwater availability may buffer young individuals against climate change-related drought stress.

How will plants migrate through microenvironmentally heterogeneous landscapes like this oak woodland?   Temperatures can change 8 degrees C within 20 meters simply due to aspect (different sides of the same hill)!  


Biotic Interactions
How do biotic factors interact with climate?

Biotic interactions with climate can influence species and community response to climate change.  Our studies of community ecology in valley oak (Quercus lobata) woodlands explore the relative importance of moisture stress and consumer pressure on oak recruitment across a regional spatial resource gradient.  

How do biotic interactions scale?  

The Berkeley Species Interactions and Climate Group is exploring this question through a meta-analyses of the effects of plant/plant interactions across scales. 


          Physiological Acclimation
Will plants acclimate to warming? 

McLaughlin et al. Global Change Biology 2014    

Plant respiration exerts strong control on Arctic ecosystem carbon balance.  Changes in ecosystem-scale C fluxes with climate change will depend on plant-scale,  species-specific acclimation responses.

Our field studies measuring leaf-level respiratory response to short term temperature change show that cotton grass (Eriophorum vaginatum) adjusts its respiratory response to temperature under long-term warming conditions.  Our results indicate that C flux models that fail to account for respiratory thermal acclimation overestimate future leaf R flux by up to 30% in tussock grass dominated systems.

Long term warming plots at the Toolik Lake LTER field station, Alaska