Speaker: Eric Griffin, PhD
My research investigates how bacteria and fungi, sometimes called the “great unseen,” may be an overlooked yet important dimension of native tree diversity. Rapid environmental and anthropogenic changes are decreasing biodiversity worldwide, potentially diminishing ecosystem functions and services, but many of the potential relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem function are still unexplored. For example, we know that higher tree species diversity is associated with increases in timber production, carbon storage, and watershed quality, but we don’t know why this is the case. I conducted a research project funded by Maryland Native Plant Society to evaluate the relationship between plant-associated microbes and the positive effects of native tree diversity in Maryland. My results suggest that high diversity forests may be better protected from fungal pathogens, both those that can wipe out entire populations of trees (e.g., the chestnut blight), and also those that lessen the vigor of trees in less obvious ways. This work adds an important component to our understanding of why diversity is important to forest health. Eric Griffin is a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
Doors open at 7:00.
Location: Kensington Library, 4201 Knowles Ave, Kensington, MD.
The program is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.
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