Ecologists recognize the need to predict how communities and ecosystems will respond to rapid, interacting elements of environmental change.  A long-term objective of this research is to understand the causes of biodiversity loss and the consequences of biodiversity loss on ecosystem functioning under multiple, interacting climate change stressors.  

Current Projects:

Boreal Peat Project (with Brian Branfireun, Catherine Dieleman & Asma Asemaninejad)

Given the global significance of peatland ecosystems in the storage and sequestration of carbon, there is a substantial interest in understanding whether global change factors will alter the direction or magnitude of net C exchange from these systems.  We use a nested factorial design to test the effects of elevated temperature, elevated CO2, and altered water table on intact Boreal peat cores.  The goal is to understand the consequences of multiple environmental stressors on C sequestration in the peatland detrital system, and link changes in biodiversity to changes in ecosystem-level processes (nutrient cycles) through a developed understanding of how functional trait compositions of plant, soil invertebrate and microbial communities control belowground C turnover.

A Functional Diversity Approach (with Matt Turnbull & Paul George)

Changes in species traits, species composition, and alterations in the nature of species interactions are expected to impact ecosystem processes, through changes in the community trophic structure, biomass, and nutrient assimilation rates. Linking community disassembly with changes in ecosystem function will require knowledge of the functional roles of the species that persist, as well as perish, under multiple environmental stressors.  This approach is being applied to soil collembola (Matt) and free-living nematode communities (Paul).

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