ISEECI’s mission is to assess ecosystem-wide impacts of climate across the UC Natural Reserve System, linking plant and animal studies from the oceans to mountaintops. ISEECI leverages the UC Natural Reserve System as a biologically and geographically diverse laboratory to study effects of climate change on California ecosystems, with major implications for the state’s citizens. Our efforts are focused around four major research themes:
- Environmental and Ecological History
- Assessing Ecosystem-wide Adaptation to Future Climate Scenarios
- Experimental Approaches to Climate Impacts Across Large Gradients
- Next Generation Sampling to Archive Genomic Information
ISEECI is also focused on providing Californians with the most up-to-date and synthetic assessments of the impacts of climate on ecosystem health, and cascading impacts of the potential degradation of ecosystem services on their lives. Research Goals: Climate history: assessing historical variation in climate impacts using growth rings of woody plants and bones of fish to reconstruct climate statewide. This level of precision has not been collected on a statewide level and will provide an unprecedented window into the climate history, including records of drought and fire; Land histories from prehistory to current: working with Environmental Historians to assemble detailed land use histories for reserve locations, discovering forgotten but invaluable scientific research, and finding time capsules of genetic data contained within museum specimens; Coastal/terrestrial linkages: linkages between ocean circulation/upwelling and the coastal terrestrial ecosystems are vital since much of the population lives in the coastal zone, but are not well understood. Climate change directly affects the resilience of coast systems; e.g., coastal fog is declining.
Through ISEECI we will coordinate climatologists, ecologists and atmospheric chemists (amongst others), generating more accurate projections of coastal impacts of climate change, aiding management and protection of these iconic regions. While our initial efforts are focused on iconic California Ecosystem such as the magnificent redwood forests and red cedar forests of coastal California, we are developing projects to monitor the giant redwood forests of the Sierra Nevada and the ancient limber pine and bristlecone pines of the White Mountains. Studying the future: by identifying sites that currently have climates that key reserves will have in 30-50 years, we can learn how those ecosystems function and evolved, and the predict the chances of animals and plants migrating as climate shifts. This research is critical to forecasting changes in reserves, identifying sites that could be biotic refuges, and developing much needed strategies to manage reserves given unprecedented climatic change. Partnering with DroughtNet: a global consortium assessing ecosystems sensitivity to drought by building precipitation shelters that exclude up to 60% of the precipitation: We hope to add 7 NRS sites, with new instrumentation and experimental plots to improve high resolution modelling of ecosystem responses. Coordinated global efforts will tease out underlying mechanisms governing ecosystem response to changes in climate that can be used to improve high-resolution modelling of ecosystem responses. Climate Change Observatory spanning terrestrial and marine ecosystems of California: developing new instrumentation systems across the NRS system to study ecosystem-wide levels of carbon storage and flux. This information will be vital for development of Cap and Trade programs, mandated by AB 32.