Benjamin Lee

Doctoral Track: 
Resource Ecology Management (REM)
Entering year: 

BS, University of Washington (Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology), 2012

 Ben is a PhD candidate in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) whose research focuses on trees in the Great Lakes region and their response to climate change. His dissertation aims to mechanistically link shifts in foliar phenology of tree seedlings to individual performance and population-level recruitment dynamics for sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and northern red oak (Quercus rubra). Ben has a bachelor’s of science in biology (ecology, evolution, and conservation biology) from the University of Washington. His research there focused on recruitment dynamics of western red cedar (Thuja plicata) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) in urban mixed-deciduous forests in Seattle. At the University of Michigan, Ben has been involved with outreach programs including ‘Climate Change and Michigan Cherries’ and ‘Climate Change and Michigan Forests’, both of which aim to develop climate change curricula for K-12 students in Ann Arbor area schools.

Shifts in climate change have been one of the most widely reported responses of organisms to current climate change. However, few studies have addressed the implications that such phenological trends might have on plant communities. Forward shifts in the onset of spring and earlier environmental cues are disrupting the life cycles of temperate plants that rely on these cues to trigger leaf-out, fruiting, and other events. Furthermore, complex interactions between different species, such as competition for sunlight, are changing, making it harder for ecologists to model the future impacts of climate change and for conservationists to adjust management strategies to promote native forest types. I plan to investigate the direct effects that climate change is having on the phenology and carbon assimilation strategies in temperate tree species as well as the effects that such shifts have interspecies interactions.

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