Understanding drivers of tree mortality across California tree species
Climate change is expected to increase the severity and frequency of abiotic and biotic disturbances in forests across California. Drought, wildfire, and insect or pathogen attack have already caused widespread tree mortality, trends that will likely only worsen under climate change. To understand how trees will respond to these disturbances, we use tools from plant physiology and remote sensing in combination with modeling approaches to identify at-risk tree populations and to predict how trees will need to adapt to survive in these harsher conditions. Central to this project are questions about intraspecific variation in drought-related traits, disturbance impacts on recruitment (are baby trees more resilient if they grow up in a post-fire landscape?), and strategies of adaptation/acclimation to future climates (are traits capable of keeping up with a rapidly shifting environment?).