This talk will highlight recent advances in our understanding of high-latitude ecosystem responses to climatic change at decadal to millennial timescales. Specifically, I will present genetic and paleo- data to address the following questions: (1) can plant migration keep pace with climatic change? (2) does variation in sea-ice extent play a key role in the dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems? (3) are recent fire-regime shifts unprecedented in the Holocene context?
I am a broadly trained ecologist working at the interfaces of biological, geological and climatological sciences. The overall objective of my research is to understand patterns
and mechanisms of long-term ecosystem dynamics under changing climatic conditions. To achieve this objective, I use “the natural experiments of the past” that are archived in geological deposits. These deposits offer a long-term holistic perspective into past environmental conditions, some of which do not exist today but may be analogs of different climatic conditions in the future. In pursuing my research interests, I have integrated traditional paleoecological techniques (e.g., pollen analysis) and state-of-the-art analytical tools (e.g., biomarker, stable-isotope, and chloroplast-DNA techniques).