Large-scale ecological responses to climate change in space and time

Dr. Kai Zhu
Associate Professor
Environmental Studies Department, University of California Santa Cruz
Professor Sheng Jiang

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Description:  Recent climate change is posing tremendous impacts on our planet, but how do Earth's species and ecosystems respond? Here I discuss two aspects of large-scale ecological responses to climate change: geographical range shift in space and phenological shift in time. The biogeographical resurvey analysis suggests widespread upslope species migration in response to warming in North and South America. In particular, tropical montane plants and animals were tracking climate more closely than their temperate counterparts. The remote sensing analysis suggests an overall extension of the growing season with concurrent warming across the Northern Hemisphere, with stronger climate tracking at higher latitudes. Phenological shifts outpaced that of temperature change in natural landscapes but lagged behind those in human-dominated landscapes. Examining large-scale responses in space and time may benefit scaling ecological insights into the Earth system. 

Speaker Bio:  Kai is interested in global change ecology, ecological modeling, and environmental data science, where he enjoys integrating ecological theory with advanced tools in statistics and computer science. His current research focuses on plant and soil responses to environmental change in the coupled natural and human systems, spanning from meter-scale experiments to global-scale analyses. Kai is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, an elected Ecological Society of America Early Career Fellow, and a winner of the New Phytologist Tansley Medal. Kai received his PhD degree in ecology and master’s degree in statistics from Duke University, and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.