I am a forest ecologist interested in understanding how to better manage forests in a future characterized by global changes.
My work aims at studying the dynamics of forest ecosystems to anticipate the potential impacts of climate, disturbance and socio-economic changes. I use ecological simulation models of forest dynamics to explore interactions of trees with their changing environment and to investigate forest management strategies to enhance future resistance and resilience at multiple scales (stand to landscape). I am currently working on combining modelling approaches with functional diversity and network connectivity in fragmented forest landscapes in Eastern North America. I am passionate in dendrology, geography, silviculture, tree-ring research, forest inventory and the ecology of mixed forests. And I love mountains, cross-country skiing and home brewing.
Ph.D. in Forest Ecology, 2015
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
MSc in Forestry and Environmental Science, 2010
University of Padua, Italy
Given the uncertainty of global environmental changes, forest managers need reliable and science-based tools to support planning decisions. To evaluate the state of forests as well as the outcomes of new management practices aimed at fostering the adaptive capacity of forest ecosystems, methods and metrics for practitioners should be self-explanatory, based on easily-available data, and straightforward to use. Here, we present and apply the functional network approach, a trait-based approach that scales-up from species functional traits to community-level functional diversity and from stands to landscape-level functional connectivity, to guide sustainable forest management when faced with global change. In the functional network approach, (1) tree and shrub species are clustered into functional groups based on selected functional traits, (2) forest stands become the nodes of the network, and (3) functional traits can be exchanged between nodes according to species dispersal capacity via functional connectivity. We complemented the functional network approach with an assessment of stand-level vulnerability to natural disturbances. This new approach was applied to a mixed temperate forest landscape in south-eastern Canada to test four management scenarios varying in intensity (5–40% of the landscape area) and silvicultural strategy, including planting tree species from rare functional groups or harvesting tree species from predominant functional groups. Managed stands were ranked according to functional diversity and vulnerability to disturbances, and species were considered for planting based on their contribution to functional diversity and level of vulnerability. We found that a species-rich forest may be a functionally poor ecosystem so its adaptive capacity and resilience may be strongly compromised in the face of high global uncertainty. In addition, both functional diversity and connectivity increased with more intense management, and when functionally rare species were planted. By adopting the functional network approach, forest practitioners have a new simple-to-use tool to evaluate landscape-level functional diversity, vulnerability, and functional connectivity. This tool can be used to inform both plans for mitigating natural disturbances and strategies for enhancing overall ecosystem adaptive capacity to future environmental conditions and societal demands.
Forests are projected to undergo dramatic compositional and structural shifts prompted by global changes, such as climatic changes and intensifying natural disturbance regimes. Future uncertainty makes planning for forest management exceptionally difficult, demanding novel approaches to maintain or improve the ability of forest ecosystems to respond and rapidly re‐organize after disturbance events. Adopting a landscape perspective in forest management is particularly important in fragmented forest landscapes where both diversity and connectivity play key roles in determining resilience to global change. In this context, network analysis and functional traits combined with ecological dynamic modeling can help evaluate changes in functional response diversity and connectivity within and among forest stands in fragmented landscapes. Here, we coupled ecological dynamic modeling with functional traits analysis and network theory to analyze forested landscapes as an interconnected network of forest patches. We simulated future forest landscape dynamics in a large landscape in southern Quebec, Canada, under a combination of climate, disturbance, and management scenarios. We depicted the landscape as a functional network, assessed changes in future resilience using indicators at multiple spatial scales, and evaluated if current management practices are suitable for maintaining resilience to simulated changes in regimes. Our results show that climate change would promote forest productivity and favor heat‐adapted deciduous species. Changes in natural disturbances will likely have negative impacts on native conifers and will drive changes in forest type composition. Climate change negatively impacted all resilience indicators and triggered losses of functional response diversity and connectivity across the landscape with undesirable consequences on the capacity of these forests to adapt to global change. Also, current management strategies failed to promote resilience at different spatial levels, highlighting the need for a more active and thoughtful approach to forest management under global change. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of combining dynamic landscape scale simulation modeling with network analyses to evaluate the possible impacts of climate change as well as human and natural disturbances on forest resilience under global change.
See my CV for contributions prior 2016