My research focuses on landscape ecology and the dynamics of vegetation communities, including the influences of natural disturbances and exotic invasive plants. Research interests include quantifying controls on landscape vegetation pattern by integrating environmental gradients and disturbance regimes, and understanding the long-term effects of exotic species on native plant communities and ecosystem function.
Modeling the Long-Term Invasion Dynamics and Ecosystem Impacts of Exotic TreesIn collaboration with Dr. Charles Canham (IES), Dr. Peter Marks ( Cornell University), and Dr. Lorena Gómez Aparicio (IES), I am using spatially explicit models and field experiments to evaluate the long-term invasion dynamics of northeastern forests by two exotic tree species: Norway maple and tree of heaven. This research will identify the factors limiting the establishment of exotic trees and the ability of exotic canopy trees to deleteriously impact ecosystem processes and native biota. At present, most research on invasives has focused on highly disturbed ecosystems and the exotic plants which rapidly colonize these open environments. This research will address the gap in our knowledge of the long-term ability of exotic trees to invade and dominate the intact forests which comprise most of the natural preserves in the eastern US.
Integrating Natural Disturbance, Environmental Gradients and Vegetation Pattern in Tropical Montane Forests
In collaboration with Dr. Timothy Fahey ( Cornell University) and Dr. Ruth Sherman ( Cornell University), I have developed a model of the controls on the complex vegetation mosaics in the montane forests of the Dominican Republic. Tropical montane forests are among the world’s most threatened biomes, and yet remain poorly studied. These ecosystems provide critical functions (e.g. stable hydrologic flows) and are a principle hotspot of the world’s biodiversity. Using remote sensing and gradient analysis methodologies, our research has found important spatial interactions and feedbacks between environmental gradients and disturbance regimes. This outgoing research aims to provide a more thorough understanding of pattern and process in these vital and high-threatened ecosystems.
Courses I Teach:
LAND 220 – Fundamentals of Ecology
LAND 444 – Landscape Ecology
Extension & Outreach