Lakehead University Research Chair in Climate Change and Boreal Forests in Canada

Name: Dr. Han Chen

Department: Faculty of Natural Resources Management

Title of Lakehead University Research Chair:  Lakehead University Research Chair in Climate change and boreal forests in Canada

Start date:   October 1, 2014

Website address of researcher: http://flash.lakeheadu.ca/~hchen/

Keywords Describing Chair's Areas of Research: Boreal forest, climate change, diversity, ecosystem function

Research relevance (importance of the research and how it will benefit Canadians):  Our findings are expected to have important forest policy and management implications including national and international policy consideration on mitigation and adaptation climate changes.

Abstract Describing Chair's Areas of Research:  climate changes are one of the greatest stressors for global terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem function. Understanding the impacts of climate changes on biodiversity and ecosystem function is central to the theoretical advances in environmental sciences and to mitigation and adaption strategies of human society. My long-term goal is to understand how and why climate changes affect the diversity and function of Canada’s boreal forests. One promising approach is to use natural experiments to understand the mechanisms leading to the changes in biodiversity and function of real ecosystems.

By combining long-term repeatedly measured forest plots over large geographic area in Canada with carefully designed sampling of natural experiments, I will identify the mechanisms responsible for the changes in diversity and function of Canada’s boreal forests. My specific aims are to investigate how and why global climate change impacts boreal forest biomass carbon function, tree species diversity, and the relationship between diversity and function. In particular, I will address whether species diversity mitigates negative impacts of climate change (increased drought and insect outbreaks) and/or enhances positive effects such as nitrogen deposition and rising CO2 on carbon function.

The proposed work will advance our knowledge of human influences on boreal forests and will train several HQP in the era of rapid climate changes. Our results are likely to be of great importance in understanding the impact of climate changes on boreal ecosystems and in helping society to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies.