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Changing Climate: Plant Physiology, Forest Ecology, & the Carbon Cycle

Speaker: Dr. Anna Trugman, University of California, Santa Barbara

Climate change has the potential to massively disrupt terrestrial ecosystem productivity, impacting biodiversity and ecosystem services, and driving Earth’s forests to release carbon into the atmosphere, which would further exacerbate climate change. Critically, the physiological mechanisms underpinning forest responses to climate are not fully understood due to complex interactions between climate, tree physiology, and community ecology. Here, Dr. Trugman leverages plant physiological observations, large observational databases, and trait-based ecosystem models to understand the physiological and ecological unknowns underlying observed patterns of disturbance and drought-driven mortality, which can have major carbon cycle consequences. Anna then highlights strengths and limitations in each approach and processes uncertainties exposed by this hierarchy of techniques.