Conservation Paleobiology: Contributions to Understanding Climate, Disturbance and Restoration
Andrea Brunelle Professor & Chair, Department of Geography, University of Utah. email@example.com
Humans are altering our environment. Climate change resulting from the burning of fossil fuels is documented beyond argument. Landscape modification through grazing, logging, mining and other activities is omnipresent. But what are the actual ecological implications? Can systems recover? Conservation paleobiology is a newly named field for an application of paleoecology. Conservation paleobiology can take a near-time, 2 million years, or deep-time approach but both provide information on ecological responses to climatic variability. The near- time approach presented here more specifically uses paleoecological data to generate pre-and post-disturbance ecological baselines and natural ranges of variability, describes ecosystem response to disturbances - natural and anthropogenic- and helps develop realistic restoration goals. We will examine “lessons learned” from records spanning woody plant encroachment and desiccation in desert wetlands to high elevation forest sites impacted by beetles and forest fires and discuss how conservation paleobiologists can better work with land managers to use these important data.
I am an Associate Professor and Chair in the Geography Department at the University of Utah. My BS is in Environmental Science- Geology - and my MS is in Quaternary Studies -Paleoecology- from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. My Ph.D. is from The University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon in Physical Geography. My research focuses on reconstructions of past environments from lake and wetland sediments with particular interest in projects with management applications. These projects include reconstructions of fire and vegetation regimes from sedimentary deposits, studying past bark beetle outbreaks in the mountain west, studies of southwestern desert wetlands -ciénegas-, and human paleoecology. My passion is educating students about the science of climate change.