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  • Using big data to address forest responses to climate change - Science of Information Spring 2020 Online Seminar Series

  • Wednesday, April 22, 2020 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT
    Purdue University

    As a part of the Center for Science of Information Spring 2020 Seminar Series (online), Jonathan Knott, Ph.D., Department of Forestry, Purdue University, and CSoI Student Research Team Leader, will be presenting a seminar on "Using big data to address forest responses to climatechange."


    Jon recently received his Ph.D. from the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) and Ecological Sciences and Engineering (ESE) graduate program. He successfully defended his dissertation on March31, the first ever virtual dissertation defense for the FNR department. He works in Songlin Fei\u2019s Natural Resources Spatial Analysis lab, which focuses on macrosystems biology (the study of biological patterns and processes at regional to global scales) with topics including invasive species, climate change, and biodiversity. Jon\u2019s research focuses on how forests of the eastern U.S. respond to climate change. His talk today will focus on how big data from the U.S. Forest Service can be used to address questions of how forest dynamics have shifted over the last three decades in response to climate change.


    Due to its impact on ecological systems, climate change has become the most rapidly growing research area among ecologists, yet there still remain many unknown effects of climate change on forest dynamics. Here, I present some of my work utilizing the U.S. Forest Service\u2019s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program, which contains about 80,000 forest inventory plots across the eastern U.S. In the first project, collaborators and I showed that species are responding to climate change by shifting their distributions northward and westward, tracking with changes in temperature and precipitation. As a result of these shifts, we hypothesized that forest communities\u2014groups of commonly co-occurring species\u2014are also being impacted. In a follow-up study as part of my dissertation, I used FIA data to investigate how communities have been impacted over the last three decades, which revealed three main changes at the community level: (1) changes in species composition of communities; (2) shifts in spatial distributions that lagged behind climate change; and (3) the largest changes across all communities occurred in areas with warmer, wetter climates that have low seasonal temperature variability (e.g. in the southeastern U.S.). These studies highlight the utility of big data in ecological research, and the results of these studies can act as warning flags of the continued impact of climate change on the sustainability of forest ecosystems across the eastern U.S.


    Attached papers:

    1. Fei, S., Desprez, J., Potter, K., Jo, I., Knott, J. , & Oswalt, C. (2017). Divergence of species responses to climate change. Science Advances .
    2. Knott, J. , Jenkins, M., Oswalt, C., & Fei, S. (2020). Community-level responses to climate change in forests of the eastern United States. Global Ecology and Biogeography.


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