Harvard-UAI Collaborative Research Grant Series Presents: "Flowering in desert shrublands: dynamic plant responses to climate in Chile"


Thursday, December 2, 2021, 3:30pm

3:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm Chile
This event is virtual, and will have simultaneous English and Spanish interpretations. To register click here.

Speakers: Charles C. Davis, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Curator of Vascular Plants in the Harvard University Herbaria; Karin Maldonado, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez; Alejandra Troncoso, Director of Fray Jorge LTER, Assistant Professor of Biology Department, Universidad de La Serena; Maria del Pilar Fernández Murillo, Master of Ecology in Arid Zones and PhD Student of Integrative Ecology, Universidad Mayor, Chile; Daniel S. Park, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, Center for Plant Biology, Purdue University

All continents and ecosystems have been adversely impacted by regional and global climate change, and especially by increasing temperatures. Temperature is an essential developmental cue for many organisms and numerous studies have demonstrated dramatic shifts in species' phenologies – the timing of life-cycle events of plants and animals – as a function of rising temperatures. Moreover, when synchronously interacting species respond differently to environmental cues, climate change may disrupt their phenological synchrony, leading to cascading system-wide changes in interactions and ecosystem services. However, our understanding of phenological responses to climate change in the Global South, especially in arid environments, remains poor. In this webinar, we will present our initial analysis of long-term phenological monitoring data from arid shrublands collected at Fray Jorge National Park, Chile. Our results demonstrate that precipitation is the key climatic cue associated with phenology in this desert. We also show that in this desert, certain aspects of phenology are likely mediated by ecological interactions with small mammals. Finally, we present future directions for this research and the potential for novel data sources to propel these investigations toward a better understanding and forecasts of future changes to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Charles Davis is Professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is also Curator of Vascular Plants in the Harvard University Herbaria, and previously served as its Director for six years. He uses a phylogenetic approach to address a broad range of questions in evolutionary biology and ecology. One main area of his research relates to plants and their responses to global change, and he is especially interested in the application of natural history data to address timely questions in this domain.

Karin Maldonado obtained her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Universidad de Chile. Since completing her postdoctoral research on animal ecophysiology and population biology, she has held research and professor positions at the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile. The Maldonado laboratory addresses how animals physiologically and behaviorally cope with short- and long-term environmental variations, including those of natural origin (e.g., seasonality) and those caused by people (e.g., climate change). Currently, she participates in two long-term studies that evaluate the consequences of climate variability in desert environments.

Alejandra Troncoso obtained her biology degree from Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Bolivia, and her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the Universidad de Chile. After completing postdoctoral research on landscape genetics of high Andean wetlands at Universidad de La Serena, Chile she was invited by Dr. Julio Gutiérrez to join the Fray Jorge LTER as co-PI to lead the analyses of temporal dynamics of predator-prey interactions. Currently, she is the lead PI of the Fray Jorge LTER and is especially interested in temporal dynamics of ecological interactions and ecosystem function across gradients of perturbation within the Fray Jorge Biosphere Reserve. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the LTSER Chile Network, and a member of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) since 2009.

Daniel Park obtained his PhD from the University of California, Davis, and subsequently held postdoctoral positions at Harvard University and the University of Arizona. In 2020, he joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University as an Assistant Professor, where he studies how plant biodiversity is distributed across space and time, why we see these patterns, and how these distributions may change in the future. His ongoing research includes assessing how flowering times are responding to climate change and how evolutionary relationships may predict the success of invasive plant species.

María del Pilar Fernández obtained her master's degree in Arid Zone Ecology from Universidad de La Serena in 2017. Subsequently, she worked on research projects at the University de Chile and the Center for Advanced Studies in Arid Zones (CEAZA), mainly related to plant flowering and distribution. She is currently a PhD candidate in Integrative Ecology at the Universidad Mayor, Chile. Her main interest is to understand the dynamics of plant communities and their interactions in global change scenarios.


In Collaboration with:

Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

With the Support of:

Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (FONDECYT)
Instituto de Ecología & Biodiversidad (IEB)
Ministerio de Agricultura de Chile, CONAF
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Universidad de la Serena, Chile
University of California, Davis (UC Davis)