Arizona State University
I am interested in understanding how hydrologic variability and disturbance regimes affect the structure and function of primary producer communities in arid streams and wetlands. Using a combination of field observations from Sycamore Creek and the Salt River wetlands, greenhouse experiments, and statistical modelling, I hope to better understand how variability within and between years affects long-term biotic community structure and ecosystem function. I received my master’s in Ecology at Florida State University, where I studied interactions between algal crusts, plant communities, and storm disturbance regimes on barrier islands coastal dunes in the Florida panhandle. As an undergraduate at Florida Atlantic University, I worked on several projects, including her Honors Thesis on managing pine scrubland plant communities and an NSF Undergraduate Research and Mentoring (URM) program fellowship working in sawgrass communities in the Florida Everglades. I am an avid proponent of outreach and education, a ESA-SEEDS alumni, and a GPSE mentor teaching science to local middle schools.
Influence of vegetation on net ecosystem carbon balance in subarctic mire thaw
Permafrost zones in the subarctic store significant quantities of highly labile carbon. However, recent rising temperatures have resulted in the melting of significant areas of permafrost, making available the underlying, carbon-rich peat. Permafrost thawing has resulted in an increase in CO2 and CH4 emissions; given the vast quantity of carbon these areas store, this phenomenon has significant implications for global atmospheric greenhouse gases concentrations. Melting permafrost results in increased greenhouse gas concentrations and creates a positive feedback loop promoting continually increasing temperatures and increasing permafrost thaw. However, a recent study of thaw ponds in the subarctic Stordalen Mire found that thaw-induced emissions, which significantly offset the carbon sink capacity of the landscape, were reduced in ponds with vegetation (Kuhn et al. 2018). This suggests vegetation may assist in the retention of carbon in these ponds following permafrost thawing. While it is recognized that vegetation can play a pivotal part in carbon emissions, the role of vegetation in carbon balance of thawing permafrost is not well understood. In the proposed research I will explore, how do mire thaw pond primary producer communities influence net ecosystem carbon balance? Particularly, I will investigate how primary producer community composition and functional characteristics of primary producer species influence the net ecosystem carbon balance of permafrost thaw ponds. Given the potential impact of these permafrost regions on global carbon cycling, and the likelihood of greater permafrost thaw in the future as a result of climate change, it is imperative that we understand mechanism influencing the changing carbon cycle regimes in these systems.
Dates: 15 June - 4 August