Research in the Richardson lab group is directed at answering basic questions in the field of global change ecology. The motivation for this is simple: climate change is undoubtedly the most important issue facing the world today, and the future of our society depends, to a large degree, on feedbacks (still poorly understood) between terrestrial vegetation and the climate system.

We use tools from ecophysiology and forest ecology, biogeochemistry and process-based modeling, biometeorology and atmospheric science, and applied mathematics, statistics and computer science. Broadly speaking, we investigate how a changing climate may impact terrestrial ecosystem functions and services, and the consequences of climate change for vegetation-mediated feedbacks to the climate system. We are particularly interested in questions related to the impacts of climate change and climate variability on biological processes in temperate forests, at both the whole ecosystem (e.g. carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas fluxes) and individual organism (e.g. carbon allocation and phenology) levels.

Studies in the Richardson lab group combine in-situ field studies and experiments, long-term observational data, quantitative laboratory analyses, and quantitative modeling approaches to understand processes and investigate mechanisms and drivers. Our current research has four key focus areas:

  1. Biotic and abiotic controls on whole-ecosystem carbon balance in forest ecosystems;

  2. Dynamics and age of nonstructural carbohydrate reserves in forest trees;

  3. Controls on spatial and temporal variability in vegetation phenology; and

  4. Model-data fusion, as applied to each of the above.