As a plant ecologist and conservation biologist, I am fascinated with the vast diversity of plants on Earth and how they interact with their environment and other organisms. I am particularly interested in how climate change, urbanization, and other anthropogenic factors affect plant communities. Understanding anthropogenic impacts to plants is compelling to me for two main reasons: 1) humans exert a large and growing influence on Earth’s biota, and 2) we can simultaneously learn about their basic ecology and address applied problems in conservation biology and restoration.
As a Putnam Fellow, I studied growth-climate relationships using Arnold Arboretum’s extensive and diverse woody collections and historic climate data. Forecasts of forest responses to climate change are critical, but have been challenging because observed tree responses to climate change are variable. Previous studies indicate that temperate and boreal trees may respond by growing faster, slower, or at unchanged rates. I am studying how traits, phylogenetics, and variation in the magnitude of climatic change affect interspecific differences in annual growth rates and growth sensitivity to climate. This research aims to identify predictors for climate sensitivity and improve forecasts of future biological impacts of climate change.