Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - 3:30pm
Eastern Standard Time
Wen J. Wang, University of Missouri and Dan Hocking, USGS

Early Career Showcase:  Two NE CSC Postdoctoral Fellows will present on their work as an early career climate and natural resources scientist.

"Climate Effects on Brook Trout Populations"  Dan Hocking, USGS
As ectotherms, most stream vertebrates are highly sensitive to changes in temperature in addition to precipitation and related flow conditions. This makes stream-inhabiting vertebrates, such as fish and amphibians, particularly vulnerable to climate change. The first step in understanding potential effects of future environmental changes was to model the relationships between climatic and landscape conditions and populations. At the broadest and coarsest scale, we modeled the probability of occupancy of brook trout as a function of temperature, precipitation, and landscape characteristics. We used this model to forecast occupancy under future climate and emissions scenarios. We also explored the tolerance of brook trout to changes in temperature and forest cover to map and identify areas of particular vulnerability and opportunities for mitigation through forest manipulation. At a smaller watershed scale, we estimated brook trout abundance using a spatiotemporal model with Gaussian Markov Random Fields to address autocorrelation within a stream network. This allows us to make unbiased predictions of abundance over time in response to climatic changes. Finally, we have an ongoing project with scientists and managers to understand how climate may alter the interactions among stream vertebrates and whether land protection decisions are sensitive to uncertainties in future climate conditions.

Daniel Hocking is currently a USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow funded in part through the Northeast Climate Science Center. He received a BS in Environmental Conservation from the University of New Hampshire, a Masters in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri, and a Doctorate in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from the University of New Hampshire. He uses a combination of experiments, field surveys, and quantitative methods to study the effects of land-use and climate change on fish and wildlife populations. Dan currently lives in Dover, NH.


“Forest Biomass and Species Distributions Under Climate Change in the Northeastern U.S: Accounting for Population Dynamics and Harvest Effects”  Wen Wang, University of Missouri
Forests in the Northeastern United States are currently in the early- and mid-successional stages recovering from historical land use. Succession, harvest, and climate are potentially important factors affecting forest structure and distribution in the region. We used the LANDIS PRO forest landscape model to simulate forest succession, harvest, and climate change to predict aboveground biomass (AGB) and tree species distribution changes from 2000 to 2300 in the Northeastern United States. We found total AGB increased from 2000 to 2120 irrespective of any climate scenario, followed by slight decline as trees aged and died, but then increased again to 2300. Total AGB averaged 10% greater under CGCM A2 and GFDL A1FI than for under PCM B1 and current climate. Climate change effects on tree species distribution were not evident from 2000 to 2100. However by 2300, occurrence of northern hardwood maple/beech/birch forest species and spruce/fir forest species decreased in occurrence and central hardwood and southern tree species increased in occurrence and shifted northward. We concluded that the future dynamics of forest biomass were primarily attributed to succession but warmer climates had positive effects on forest biomass. Southern species and central hardwood tree species increased at the expense of the Northern Hardwood and Spruce-Fir forest species under warming climates.

Wen J. Wang is a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Missouri and the Northeast Climate Science Center. She received her Master’s degree in Ecology from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ph.D in Forestry from the University of Missouri. She mainly focuses on Landscape Ecology, Forest Ecology, Landscape Modeling, and Climate Change. Her research addresses large-scale ecosystem dynamics in forests in the eastern United States including forest species composition shift and their impact on biomass and carbon sinks and adaptation of tree species to climate change.