OCTF seminar followed by drinks – all welcome. Book here
Speaker: Dr Michael O’Brien, PhD, Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain
Climate change induced biodiversity loss is occurring at unprecedented rates, and predicting where, when and why remains an intractable task facing scientists. It is becoming evident that accurately predicting biodiversity loss requires research that traverses spatial, temporal and biological scales. Mikey’s work has focused on disentangling the relative importance of plant traits, plant–plant interactions at neighbor and community levels and genetic variation for mediating forest responses to changing precipitation patterns (i.e. frequency and severity of drought). He will focus his discussion on a suite of projects in Malaysian Borneo and highlight results that offer insights into how tropical trees respond to novel precipitation patterns from single drought events to recurring droughts (temporal scales) and from the individual to community level (biological scales). He will finish by offering current knowledge-gaps that have developed from his research and suggest directions for making predictions of forest risk across spatial scales.
Between 2005 and 2009, Mikey worked throughout the USA as a field ecologist mapping forest fire damage and risk, measuring sequestered carbon and assessing plant−fungal interactions for forest restoration projects. He completed his PhD in 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Andy Hector from the University of Zurich with a thesis entitled, The Role of Functional-traits in the Response of Tropical Forests to Global Change. He remained at the University of Zurich as a postdoc with the University of Zurich Research Priority Program (URPP) on Global Change and Biodiversity until 2015. Since that time, he has worked as an independent researcher by funding himself with four fellowships totalling more than 500,000 Euros. He is currently an independent researcher at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain funded by a personal grant from the Comunidad de Madrid Atracción de Talento Fellowship and the Director of Science Coordination with the Southeast Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP; searrp.org).
He is the principal investigator of the CTFS-ForestGEO forest dynamics plot in Danum Valley, Malaysia, the site director of the Sabah Biodiversity Experiment in Malaysia and the co-founder and director of Shilo an organic agroforestry project in Guatemala. He contributes to two international research networks: 1) the URPP on Global Change and Biodiversity (gcb.uzh.ch/en.html) and 2) the tree mortality network (https://www.tree-mortality.net/), and holds an affiliated research position at the University of Minnesota.