Understanding how diverse taxa and ecosystems will respond to multi-factorial global change is a ‘wicked’ problem – due to uncertainty about generality of behavior among taxa, ecosystems, and biomes; weak understanding of complex interactions; and a limited toolbox with which to examine these knowledge gaps. To help address these issues I engage in studies ranging from identification of global trait-tradeoff and metabolic response functions; to ecosystem-scale experiments with factors such as CO2, temperature, rainfall, fire and biodiversity; to cross-continental observations and earth system modeling. Using examples from diverse ecosystems – including boreal forest, temperate grassland, and tropical savanna – I will show how framing research around fundamental hypotheses about complex issues can help uncover both predictable general patterns and unexpected surprises.
About the Speaker: Peter Reich
Peter B. Reich is a Regents Professor and holder of the F.B. Hubachek Sr. Chair at the University of Minnesota, Department of Forest Resources. He also has a joint affiliation with the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, at Western Sydney University, which he helped to develop. Reich’s teaching and research focus on physiological and ecosystem ecology, global change, and the sustainability of managed and unmanaged terrestrial ecosystems. His work focuses regionally on the forests and grasslands of mid-North America and globally on terrestrial ecosystems in general. This includes helping to develop the field of trait-based ecology, running long-term experimental field studies of climate change and biodiversity loss effects on grasslands and forests; observational studies using field and inventory data; and advancing the incorporation of biological realism complex global carbon cycling models. He has published numerous articles in international scientific journals or books (H-index >130), and has been engaged in research in tropical, temperate and boreal ecosystems on five continents. Reich has served on the editorial boards of leading international journals, and on advisory and review panels for the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, US Department of Agriculture, NASA, EPA, and US Forest Service. Reich also is part of a small team producing science education videos on YouTube, called MinuteEarth. He also serves local and state environmental boards and organizations in both professional and personal capacities. Finally, Reich is an avid, but extremely mediocre, cross-country skier, basketball player, and pianist. He is a good cook and baker though!
Host: Jennifer Holm