"Above and below-ground impacts of global change in tundra ecosystems", Courtney Collins, BRITE Postdoctoral Fellow in the Biodiversity Research Centre and Department of Botany at UBC
Source: BRS series
Global change threatens the stability of terrestrial ecosystems by reducing biodiversity, disrupting biogeochemical cycles and altering species interactions both within and across trophic levels. One of the most critical and complex barriers to predicting how ecosystems will respond to global change is the need to parse apart direct environmental effects and indirect effects of shifts in community composition and species’ interactions. I address these issues using conceptually driven research questions paired with large and global datasets to disentangle the interacting effects of global change on plant-soil-microbial interactions. My research has a strong theoretical grounding in ecosystem, community, and population ecology, and I incorporate advanced statistical techniques to link ecological processes across scales from the microbial to ecosystem level. I combine both experimental data from field, greenhouse, and laboratory studies and publically available data from global monitoring networks. My major research objectives are to: 1) Determine the direct and indirect effects of global change on plant and soil microbial community structure and ecosystem function and 2) Quantify the primary mechanisms driving these global change impacts. I primarily focus on Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystems, as they are some of the most rapidly changing areas of the planet, allowing me to study the real-time impacts of global change. However, my research framework and quantitative approaches can be applied to any terrestrial ecosystem.