Coffee Hour and Miller Lecture: Frank W. Davis on Connecting microclimates to plant species' range dynamics in a changing climate

Friday, March 22, 2013 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
3:30 p.m. Refreshments are offered in the E. Willard Miller seminar room, 319 Walker Building 4:00 p.m. The lecture begins at 4:00 p.m. in the John J. Cahir Auditorium, 112 Walker Building

About the talk

Plant species distributions are changing in response to ongoing climate change, and biogeographers and ecologists are hard at work documenting those changes and forecasting future distributions and extinction risks.  My talk will focus on plant distributions in mountainous regions and on research to better characterize mountain microclimates and the association of tree establishment with those microclimates. I will present early results from an interdisciplinary NSF Macrosystems Biology project in which climatologists, plant geographers and ecologists are teaming up to measure and model microclimate and tree species establishment in foothill and montane landscapes in California. Our central research questions are:

• What is the distribution of microclimates in mountain landscapes under current climate?

• How might climate change affect the spatial distribution of microclimates and associated patterns of tree species establishment and occupancy?

• How are the macroscale dynamics of species distribution, abundance and climate-driven range shifts related to the spatial distribution and dynamics of microclimates?

I will describe our approach and initial results measuring and modeling surface temperature regimes in relation to seedling recruitment of foothill and montane oak and pine species. We are just beginning to incorporate our results into next-generation species distribution models and metapopulation models to examine how regional range dynamics emerge from the interplay of regional climate and microclimate change, disturbances such as wildfire, and plant population processes.

About the speaker

Frank DavisFrank W. Davis is a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). His research interests are in landscape ecology, biogeography and conservation planning. He has studied the biogeography and conservation of California plant communities for 30 years, particularly oak woodlands and maritime chaparral. His current research focuses on the ecological implications of climate change in California. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Trustee of the Nature Conservancy of California, and a member of the National Research Council Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology. He earned his B.A. in Biology from Williams College in 1975 and Ph.D. in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1982.