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How Herbivores, Fire, and Climate Change are Shaping Alaskan Forests

Speaker: Dr. Kate Hayes, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Warming temperatures in Interior Alaska decrease the intervals between fires, shifting forest composition from conifer to deciduous. Herbivores like moose and hare prefer deciduous species but it’s not clear how herbivores may interact with increasing fire frequency to shape forest community or forest carbon, particularly in carbon-rich boreal ecosystems.

In her work at Cary, Dr. Hayes uses simulation modeling to examine the interaction between climate, mammals, and fire in boreal Interior Alaska. Using the model iLand, she simulated moose and hare browsing dynamics in post-fire regenerating landscapes under different scenarios of climate and browsing intensity. In this seminar, Dr. Hayes, presenting results of modeled fire-herbivore interactions under different climate scenarios, will discuss the challenges and opportunities of understanding disturbance interactions under changing climate.