1600 years of tree cover expansion in the southern Amazon forest

Postdoc Barbara Bomfim contributed to new research establishing a record of soil changes associated with both climate and human activity over the last 1,600 years based on radiocarbon dating in 83 sites across the transition zone between the Amazon and the Brazilian savanna. The study suggests a regional increase in moisture and expansion of woody vegetation prior to modern deforestation, which could help inform conservation and management efforts for climate change mitigation.

New Postdoc Modeling Wildfire and Vegetation

We are looking for a new postdoc to explore the dynamics of California and western US ecosystems under a changing climate and fire regime using the FATES-SPITFIRE vegetation demographic model. The work involves collaboration with a larger team of scientists seeking to advance the ability to predict changes to diverse wildfire regimes under ongoing climate change and varied land management efforts. Contact us with questions about the position at lmkueppers@lbl.gov.

Alpine phenology advances with heating-driven snowmelt

Photo by Ken Etzel

Congratulations to lab alum, Meredith Jabis, on publication of her dissertation research in Ecology! She found that whole alpine community flowering advanced with experimental heating that melted the snow earlier in summer. This was in spite of cooler soil temperatures earlier in the season, indicating that alpine plants are well adapted to flower under cool temperatures, and that snow disappearance is really driving the start of the flowering season, not temperature. At the same time, the length of the flowering season was not extended with warming for most species.

Field Work During Covid

After considerable delay, careful safety protocol development and a revision of our goals for the summer, we managed to get a team to the field to geo-locate and measure trees. This is part of our efforts to create a watershed scale map of forest structure in the East River Watershed in Colorado. Thanks to Tom Powell, Marshall Worsham and Sarah Hettema for persevering!

Adam Hanbury-Brown wins NASA Fellowship!

PhD student Adam Hanbury-Brown’s proposal to the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) program was selected for 3 years of funding. It will enable him to pursue research on post-fire vegetation dynamics using remote sensing and the new vegetation demographic model, FATES. Congratulations, Adam!


Congratulations to Dianne Quiroz who completed her masters in ERG, examining whether conifers hosting bacterial endophyte communities in their foliage influence the relative abundance and phylogenetic structure of taxa in those communities. She is now polishing her results for publication. Also, a belated congratulations to Adam Hanbury-Brown for passing his qualifying exam! It covered tropical forest dynamics, as well as California elk populations and the people who have a stake in managing those populations – typical ERG stuff… 😉

Rachel Ward investigates tropical forests’ reproductive efforts on Barro Colorado Island, Panama

This summer, second year PhD student Rachel Ward visited research partners at the tropical forest research station on Barro Colorado Island, where she spent her days collecting and processing material from litterfall traps on islands’ 50-hectare forest dynamics plot. The long-running litterfall dataset is central to her Masters project, which probes correlations between tree species’ functional traits and their allocation of energy to reproduction. 

Highlights from summer fieldwork in 2019

Lots of us were in the field this summer – seeking new field sites, collecting data in existing ones, and taking samples that will be the subject of additional work over the coming months. Several highlights to follow… In addition, before speaking at the International Association in Landscape Ecology World Congress in Milan, Lara visited the Dolomites in N. Italy where she saw old wildflower friends (Silene acaulis) and met new ones (Aquilegia atrata).