The first g2p2pop workshop, Navigating Climate Change, will be held in Flagstaff, Arizona from September 19-21, 2018. On day 1, three speakers will be featured. Dr. Scott Goetz, Dr. Andrew Richardson, Dr. Stephen Jackson, and Dr. Tom Whitham.
Dr. Scott Goetz is a Professor at Northern Arizona University in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems. He serves as the Deputy principal investigator of NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), a high-resolution laser precisely measuring topography and forest features, including canopy height. He is also the Science Lead of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), a long-term study of how climate change is impacting these ecosystems. Previously, he was the Deputy Director of Woods Hole Research Center.
Dr. Goetz makes use of many tools to predict how vegetation will change over time, particularly in the face of climate change. A recent publication in Environmental Research Letters describes how he and colleagues made use of Landsat satellite imagery to map plant and shrub aboveground biomass in the Arctic tundra. They found areas where summer temperatures were higher also had higher above-ground biomass overall and were more likely to be dominated by shrubs, which indicates that additional warming may exacerbate this trend.
These trends have an impact on how wildlife use and interact with the environment. For example, Zhou et al. found that moose and snowshoe hares have been expanding their ranges to include areas that are increasing in shrub density, as it is preferred foraging area and may provide shelter from predators. These maps may be of utmost importance to model how wildlife will use these areas and shift their ranges as increased warming, and subsequent changes in plant biomass, occur.
During his time at Woods Hole Research Center, Dr. Goetz and colleagues studied how corridors between protected areas in the Amazon differ in above-ground biomass. They found that these corridors are contain about 15% of the total above-ground carbon in the region and can sometimes surpass the amount of carbon found in the protected regions which they connect. Additionally, they play an important role in the passage of flora and fauna between these protected areas, as well as supporting many species themselves. These results suggest that management efforts can benefit by targeting corridors high in above-ground biomass for preservation, both for carbon sequestration and biota.
Dr. Goetz’s research represents an important link between ecosystem dynamics and climate change, with important implications how organisms will respond. We look forward to hearing from him!
Berner, L. T., Jantz, P., Tape, K. D., & Goetz, S. J. (2018). Tundra plant above-ground biomass and shrub dominance mapped across the North Slope of Alaska. Environmental Research Letters, 13(3), 035002.
Zhou, J., Prugh, L., D. Tape, K., Kofinas, G., & Kielland, K. (2017). The role of vegetation structure in controlling distributions of vertebrate herbivores in Arctic Alaska. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 49(2), 291-304.