Integrating ecosystem responses to climate change across scales of space, time, and biological organization
The environmental systems science laboratory is housed within the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University. The goal of the lab is to generate new knowledge about how projected increases in climatic variability and extremes will impact the functioning and services of terrestrial ecosystems. We specifically focus on understanding how water-limited ecosystems of the western United States (e.g., grasslands) will respond to climate-driven changes to water availability (e.g., drought). Central to our approach is the integration of processes occurring across scales. We care about how ecosystem dynamics (e.g., primary productivity) vary through time within an ecosystem, how those temporal dynamics vary across space within an ecoregion or biome, and the connections between different levels of biological organization: how do fine-scale biological processes (e.g., species’ physiology) influence larger-scale emergent ecosystem dynamics (e.g., total ecosystem productivity). To meet this goal, the lab’s research draws from multiple disciplines including theoretical and plant physiological ecology, ecohydrology, and biogeochemistry and uses both observational and experimental approaches while leveraging the techniques of field ecology, remote sensing, and geographic information systems.
Interested in joining the lab as an undergraduate researcher, graduate student, or postdoctoral researcher? Contact Dr. Andrew Felton at firstname.lastname@example.org!