Talk - 'Science Cafe: Life After the Burn: How Microbes Help Forests Recover'

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 6:00pm

Series Title - "Women on the Cutting Edge: Changing the Face of Environmental Research"

This series brings together women studying diverse aspects of environmentally related research. All speakers are fellows of the Carson Scholars program, a fellowship program at the University of Arizona that promotes environmental scholarship and communication. Speakers will cover diverse issues including environmental impacts of the U.S./Mexican Border wall and the role that human behavior plays in shaping renewable energy policies. Join us and discover how women in your community are shaping the world of environmental research. 

Presenter: Dawson Fairbanks, Ph.D. student in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.

Most of Earth's biodiversity is invisible. Trillions of microbes drive our global nutrient cycles, influencing the security of our food, water quality and affect the health of our bodies. Microbes surround all living things, and even influence the atmosphere, the air that we breathe, and the water that we drink. We expect major disturbances such as fire to increase in size and severity across the western United States, influencing regional carbon balance, water storage, and water quality. With most of our water in the southwest derived from mountain catchments, these systems are critical to sustaining life in desert systems. Dawson’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding post-disturbance landscapes in the context of microbial-driven ecosystem processes. How do microbes respond post-disturbance? How can we integrate these responses to the ecosystem scale? How do microbes help ecosystems recover? Understanding these dynamics will help predict how ecosystems will respond to future disturbance and influence several things, including conservation strategies. 

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