OCTF seminar followed by Q&A – all welcome
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Speaker: Dr Adam Pellegrini, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge
Disturbances are fundamental ecological processes that structure the biodiversity, biogeochemistry, and services within ecosystems. However, novel disturbance regimes are perturbing ecosystems to such an extent that they are undergoing a variety of transformations with uncertain long-term implications. To illustrate the impact of changing disturbance regimes on ecosystems over multiple decades, Adam Pellegrini will present findings from meta-analyses, field surveys, and model simulations. He will focus on forests on the edge, namely the existence of sites that span ecotones between forest and savanna.
Using a global dataset and field sampling, his team found fire-driven soil organic carbon losses were larger on a relative basis in more arid and seasonal environments, correlated with declines in tree biomass inputs, and exceeded absolute losses of plant biomass carbon in semi-arid sites. Dynamic Global Vegetation Models predicted a pattern opposite to field data, suggesting an underestimate of the vulnerability of drier ecosystems to fire. He will then present data and a new ecosystem model from one of the longest running fire experiments that illustrates the vulnerability of forests to fire and disease and how intermediate burning can lead to the most resilient system when multiple disturbances co-occur. In summary, the consideration of forests on the edge provides numerous insights into how vulnerability to fire may increase with drying climates, the mechanisms controlling losses of soil organic matter, and how disease-fire interacts may change biome stability.
Adam Pellegrini is primarily interested in understanding the general factors that govern the carbon balance of ecosystems and specifically the impact of changing disturbance regimes. He received his PhD from the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Princeton University in 2016 before spending 3.5 years at Stanford University as a NOAA Climate and Global Change and a USDA Postdoctoral Fellow working with Rob Jackson. He joined Cambridge as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences in the winter of 2020. His hobbies include cooking, rowing, and most of all, surfing.