University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > Evolutionary legacies on ecosystem function and implications for global change: new insights from spectral biology

Evolutionary legacies on ecosystem function and implications for global change: new insights from spectral biology

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  • UserJeannine Cavender-Bares, University of Minnesota World_link
  • ClockThursday 22 October 2020, 13:00-14:00
  • HouseOnline.

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An open question is whether the structure and function of relatively undisturbed ecosystems are inevitable consequences of climate and geology or whether the idiosyncracies of biogeographic and evolutionary processes, including the order and timing of lineage dispersal and diversification, have led to divergent outcomes in ecosystem function. The ecosystem composition and diversity of plant electromagnetic spectra—the patterns of reflected photons from plants—are emerging as important measures of biodiversity, alongside functional and phylogenetic components. Spectra contain abundant information about plant function and are tightly coupled to the tree of life. The evolutionary innovations and legacies of biogeographic history that have contributed to modern plant communities and ecosystems may be revealed from the spectral reflectance of plants and from increasingly available remote sensing data that provide environmental information across spatial and temporal scales. Understanding the context in which plants evolved and the role of evolutionary history in current ecosystem structure and function provides insight into how ecosystems will respond to future environmental changes. These insights combined with advancing methods for detecting and monitoring change in biodiversity and ecosystems can help prioritize conservation and inform strategies for maintaining a habitable planet in the face of global change.

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This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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