Yi-Fu Tuan Lecture, February 15th.

UPDATE:  I have uploaded the slides of my Yi-Fu seminar to figshare, DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.157094.  If you have questions or comments about the presentation, please feel free to ask in the comments here or on figshare.  I’d be happy to discuss my work.

Once the presentation is done I’ll upload the slides here and to figshare so that people who aren’t able to attend can see the talk.  The talk will be at 3:30pm in Room 180 of Science Hall at the University of Wisconsin (550 N Park St).  This talk is part of the Yi-Fu Tuan (personal page here)  lecture series.

Using Historical Records to Help Predict the Future: The Public Land Survey, 19th Century Climate and the PalEON Project

Figure 1.  The shaded parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are my study region.  They will be the focus of my talk.
Figure 1. The shaded parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are my study region. They will be the focus of my talk.

Predicting the response of organisms to changing climates in the 21st century is a major conservation challenge.  Standard practice uses the relationship between modern species ranges and climate to predict future distributions under various future climate scenarios.  The widespread and significant land use conversion in North America, particularly in the upper Midwest, challenges the basic assumptions of this model.  I use historical records of vegetation and climate to build a better understanding of the state of forests in the upper Midwest prior to European settlement.  Pre-settlement forests show significantly different structure and composition than modern forests, and our interpretations of the kinds of climates that tree species can occupy is likely to be affected by the broad-scale changes brought about by agricultural conversion.  This analysis forms part of the broader PalEON project, and I will highlight how the information we gain from historical data can inform and improve our estimates of future climate change, species distributions and, ultimately help inform conservation planning in the 21st century.