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Do Microenvironments Govern Macroecology?

PIs: Frank Davis (University of California-Santa Barbara), Lee Hannah (Conservation International), Kelly Redmond (University of Nevada-Reno), Alexandra Syphard (Conservation Biology Institute), Janet Franklin (Arizona State University), Helen Regan (University of California-Riverside), Max Moritz (University of California-Berkeley) and Alexander Hall (University of California-Los Angeles)

Summary: This project focuses on how environmental conditions vary locally in mountainous regions of the Western United States, and how rapid climate change may determine the survival and migration rates of trees. It involves an interdisciplinary team of climate scientists, ecologists, hydrologists and plant geographers. Field studies of local climate, tree establishment and tree growth will be combined with regional climate modeling and models that depict plant population and fire dynamics across the landscape.

This project combines extensive, local-scale field studies aimed at understanding the influence of microclimate on tree seed germination and initial growth with regional climate modeling and spatial models of plant population and fire dynamics in order to bridge climate and ecological processes from the scale of individual trees to regional populations. Linked climate and plant population models, parameterized with field measurements, will be used simulate changes in regional distribution and abundance of ecologically and economically important tree species under various climate change scenarios in California, a topographically complex and ecologically diverse region.

Study species include two tree species that currently dominate warm, dry foothill woodlands (blue oak, gray pine) and two species that dominate cool, moist montane forests (black oak, ponderosa pine). LANDIS-II model will be used to scale up seedling establishment models and take into account disturbance dynamics to predict species distributions under climate change.

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