November 1, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Plant Biology Colloquium | Forests Adrift, Nov. 9

Charles Canham, portrait

Dr. Charles Canham

The Environmental & Plant Biology Colloquium Series presents Dr. Charles Canham discussing “Forests Adrift” on Nov. 9 from 11:50 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in Porter Hall 104.

Canham is Forest Ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

This event is hosted by Dr. Rebecca Snell.

Title: Forests Adrift

Abstract: Forests Adrift will capture my thoughts on the future of forests of the northeastern United States, one of the country’s most thoroughly forested regions. One of the central themes of this story is that the notion of a primeval condition still has a great hold on both our emotions and understanding of these forests. Our preoccupation with the primeval forest is reinforced by a body of ecological theory and research embedded in notions that these forests can be understood in a framework of disturbance and recovery.  There is an assumption of stability and steady-state implicit in the notion of recovery.  Ecologists have been questioning this assumption for decades.  And the silos of research that have grown up to understand the many different ways that human activities threaten our forests have struggled to place their work in any formal theory of forest dynamics, particularly one as simple as disturbance followed by recovery to steady state.  I have spent some time in most of those silos, and have finally come to at least a conceptual model of how I think about forest futures under all of the different forces that will shape those futures.  The framework is avowedly empirical, and based in demography.  It largely abandons the comfort of an ideal of even hypothetical return to primeval or steady state conditions in favor of accepting that forests drift.  I’m basically learning to go with the flow, and just try to understand where the forests are currently headed.

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