Characterizing Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Chemistry along Environmental Gradients
Characterizing Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Chemistry along Environmental Gradients to Assess Response to Climate Change
Curtis Gray, PhD Candidate, Wildland Resources Department, Utah State University. curtis. firstname.lastname@example.org
Most studies that examine forest changes from climate warming focus on species distribution patterns or altered disturbance regimes. This study examines the physiologic process of volatile organic compound (VOC) production along elevational gradients. As an alpine treeline species, Great Basin (GB) bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) is confined to the highest elevations of Great Basin mountains in the western United States, and have received attention for their potential as biological indicators of climate change. Warming temperatures may increase mortality, change community structure, and affect the interacting role of disturbances such as mountain pine beetle and natural fire regimes. VOCs are important for tree flammability, defense against pests and pathogens, and can be early indicators of abiotic plant stress. To better understand GB bristlecone pine ecology, we collected and examined VOCs emitted under varying conditions along environmental gradients. We hypothesize that warmer temperature will increase VOCs emitted from GB bristlecone pine foliage. We address the following research questions in this paper: Will VOCs decrease with elevation as a surrogate for climate change/temperature? How will GB bristlecone pine respond chemically to a warming climate and how will they adapt? And which VOC ratios are important for GB bristlecone pine evolutionary response? This research helps us understand the biotic and abiotic threats from climate change, which improves methods to reliably assess and predict tree resiliency with climate change.
Curtis is a PhD student in Forest Ecology at Utah State University. He is examining the impact of climate variability on the frequency and severity of ecological disturbances in Great Basin bristlecone pine sky islands. He has a master’s degree in Geography (Remote Sensing/GIS) from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies/Geography from UCSB. Prior to his studies at Utah State University he worked as an ecologist for California State Parks and as a GIS consultant for CalFIRE and the US Forest Service Remote Sensing Laboratory. His research interests include forest resource management, forest ecology, disturbance ecology, remote sensing/GIS, and quantitative analysis.