Nature of Life seminar: Professor Gareth Phoenix – University of Sheffield

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Nature of Life seminar: Professor Gareth Phoenix – University of Sheffield

December 12, 2023 @ 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm

Extreme events in arctic ecosystems: diverse causes with common consequences

Arctic ecosystems are experiencing extreme climatic, biotic and physical disturbance events that can cause substantial plant mortality and loss of productivity, sometimes at scales of > 1000 km2.  Events are diverse and include climatic extremes, fire, abrupt permafrost thaw, and herbivore and pathogen outbreaks.  Collectively known as “browning events”, these disturbances are key contributors to the spatial and temporal complexity of Arctic vegetation dynamics.  This presentation will bring together the main events to compare their impacts, intensity and scale of damage, rates of ecosystem recovery, and likely future changes in frequency and distribution.  It will also show that despite the highly contrasting sources of damage (e.g. fire, climatic extremes, herbivore outbreaks) there are a surprising number of commonalities in the ecosystem responses across different event types.  Furthermore, counterintuitively, some events also provide conditions for greater productivity (“arctic greening”) in the longer-term. Projected changes in the causes of browning events currently suggest many types of event will become more frequent as climate change progresses, and so their importance to arctic ecosystem structure and function is likely to increase.



Location: Main building, Room HG-15A33


December 12, 2023
3:45 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Main building


Systems Ecology