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Explaining Patterns of Biodiversity Across Spatial Scales with Traits, Geodiversity, and Disturbance


Speaker: Dr. Phoebe Zarnetske

Biodiversity is thought to be more strongly predicted by biotic drivers (e.g., competition) at local scales and by abiotic drivers (e.g., climate) at broader spatial scales, yet this theory has not been sufficiently tested from local to continental scales. In addition, disturbances and land use history are expected to alter the relationships between these drivers and biodiversity. Part of the challenge of disentangling the influence of these drivers is lack of scalable data from local to continental scales. 

Dr. Zarnetske will discuss research from an ongoing collaborative macrosystems biodiversity project focused on quantifying local- to continental-scale drivers of biodiversity across the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The team is using intraspecific trait variation from individual body size measurements of small mammals, fish, and beetles, to quantify the potential influence of competition on biodiversity. Using satellite remote sensing and lidar, they are detecting and attributing disturbances, land use history, and geodiversity across scales. Together, these biotic and abiotic drivers can help explain and predict patterns of biodiversity across scales. In addition to clarifying the drivers of biodiversity, this research is providing open and accessible high-resolution geospatial data including land use history of each NEON site, and geodiversity and disturbance layers across the conterminous United States.