Graduate Student | Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources | NC State University
2018-19 Global Change Fellow
Where are they now?
Lead Scientist at Conservation Science Partners
Statement of purpose:
Before attending NC State I worked as a habitat biologist in the desert southwest. While there, I saw incredible restoration projects developed and implemented that, in the short term, were very successful. However, these project designs did not take climate change into account and as a serious drought raged in the desert Southwest, projects had to be scaled back and faced the threat of failure. This strongly influenced my research agenda as I recognized that this problem plagues restoration efforts around the globe- the vast resources allocated to habitat restoration will be short lived and ineffective if climate change is not considered during restoration planning and implementation. In my research I aim to bridge the gap between climate science, conservation, and boots-on-the-ground restoration. I hope to use landscape modeling to better understand what will happen to current restoration projects in a changing climate, where on the landscape is most resilient to change and should be prioritized for restoration, and which areas will experience the greatest change necessitating a shift in restoration and conservation priorities.
Description of research:
My current research as a doctoral student aims to answer questions about how a changing climate will impact conservation strategies that have historically been static on the landscape. I am looking at how climate change will alter the outcomes for existing restoration projects in the longleaf pine ecosystem on and around Fort Bragg, NC and the Uwharrie National Forest, and how restoration programs should be re-designed given the changing climate. This area has been subject to repeated and ongoing restoration efforts and is considered a biodiversity hotspot, making it an ideal landscape to address questions about restoration and conservation under climate change. I am using geospatial analysis, data science, and simulation modeling to address these issues (Theme 4: Ecological Research and Modeling) and will test multiple scenarios of climate and management to assess the viability of existing and potential restoration strategies for the broader landscape (Theme 1: Climate Projection for Resource Management). Ultimately I hope this research will inform how conservation efforts are prioritized and how restoration projects are designed and adaptively managed on a landscape experiencing rapid change.