Global Change Community Ecology Functional Traits Biogeochemistry
Community Responses to Climate Change: How communities will respond to climate change and climate-change induced disturbances is a long time focus of my research. In recent work, I examined the responses of biological soil crusts and vegetation communities to experimental climate change in a cool desert ecosystem of the Colorado Plateau, Utah. My goal is to determine how climate change will impact different members of these communities For a recent examples of this type of work see Ferrenberg et al. 2015, PNAS; Ferrenberg et al. 2016, PeerJ.
Community Structure and Ecosystem Functioning: How communities of similar organisms, but with differing structure affect ecosystem functioning is a primary focus of my research. In much of my recent research, I have used global change related disturbances ranging from wildfires, tree death, and rapid climate change to test predictions regarding processes governing the assembly and structure of communities of soil microbes, ground-dwelling arthropods, and biocrusts. My ongoing work focuses on how changes in community structure affect biogeochemical processes. For recent examples see Ferrenberg et al. 2013, ISME J; Ferrenberg et al. 2014, Frontiers in Microbiology.
Functional Traits and Susceptibility to Global Change: The causes and consequences of variation in functional traits within and among species is a longstanding focus in ecology and evolutionary biology, and one of my favorite topics of study. In recent studies, I have worked to identify key functional traits underlying resistance/susceptibility to pest-induced mortality during climate-change driven pest outbreaks in conifer forests of western North America. My work on the effects of conifer bark texture on insect pest attack density and success was the winner of the 2014 Haldane Prize for best early career paper in Functional Ecology (Ferrenberg and Mitton 2014, Functional Ecology). For additional examples see Ferrenberg et al. 2014, Oecologia; Ferrenberg et al. 2015, Tree Physiology; and Ferrenberg 2016, Current Landscape Ecology Reports.