Van Tuyl Lecture: Jane Willenbring, University of California, San Diego
February 27 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jane Willenbring, University of California, San Diego
Berthoud 241, 4-5PM
Rocks, Regolith, Rain and Rivers: The Dynamic Interaction of Life and Landscape
Abstract: Natural landscapes are often viewed as the scenic backdrop on which life grows; when the landscape changes, biota responds passively to this change. A new view is emerging in which landscapes represent an ever-changing canvas shaped by dynamic interactions between life and landscape, through erosion, sediment transport through rivers, and alteration of rock to produce soil. Life probably strongly influences the evolution of topography at all scales although evidence of the impact of life in mountains has been elusive. The converse is also true–landscapes affect life through bottom-up controls. Landscape connectivity and substrate composition can act as a primary control on biodiversity and flora biomass and productivity. In her talk, Willenbring will discuss her approach to exploring these topics by coupling geochemical techniques, mostly involving cosmogenic nuclides, and remotely sensed data of topography and flora to show how vegetation can control topography at the scale of individual mountain stream catchments and how topography impacts life.