I am a forest ecologist interested in how to better manage our forests in a future characterized by global changes.
My work aims at studying the dynamics of forest ecosystems to anticipate the potential impacts of climate, disturbance and socio-economic changes. I use simulation models of forest dynamics to explore interactions of trees with their changing environment and forest management strategies to enhance long-term resistance and resilience at multiple scales - from stand to landscape. I am passionate in dendrology, geography, silviculture, tree-ring research, forest inventory and the ecology of mixed forests. And I love mountains, cross-country skiing and home brewing.
I am based in Bolzano/Bozen in the province of South Tyrol, Italy, at the Institute of Alpine Environment at Eurac Research. See the project webpage to know more. If interested, we have an open PhD position - deadline for applications June 30th.
Ph.D. in Forest Ecology, 2015
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
MSc in Forestry and Environmental Science, 2010
University of Padua, Italy
The use of spatially interactive forest landscape models has increased in recent years. These models are valuable tools to assess our knowledge about the functioning and provisioning of ecosystems as well as essential allies when predicting future changes. However, developing the necessary inputs and preparing them for research studies require substantial initial investments in terms of time. Although model initialization and calibration often take the largest amount of modelers’ efforts, such processes are rarely reported thoroughly in application studies. Our study documents the process of calibrating and setting up an ecophysiologically based forest landscape model (LANDIS-II with PnET-Succession) in a biogeographical region where such a model has never been applied to date (southwestern Mediterranean mountains in Europe). We describe the methodological process necessary to produce the required spatial inputs expressing initial vegetation and site conditions. We test model behaviour on single-cell simulations and calibrate species parameters using local biomass estimations and literature information. Finally, we test how different initialization data—with and without shrub communities—influence the simulation of forest dynamics by applying the calibrated model at landscape level. Combination of plot-level data with vegetation maps allowed us to generate a detailed map of initial tree and shrub communities. Single-cell simulations revealed that the model was able to reproduce realistic biomass estimates and competitive effects for different forest types included in the landscape, as well as plausible monthly growth patterns of species growing in Mediterranean mountains. Our results highlight the importance of considering shrub communities in forest landscape models, as they influence the temporal dynamics of tree species. Besides, our results show that, in the absence of natural disturbances, harvesting or climate change, landscape-level simulations projected a general increase of biomass of several species over the next decades but with distinct spatio-temporal patterns due to competitive effects and landscape heterogeneity. Providing a step-by-step workflow to initialize and calibrate a forest landscape model, our study encourages new users to use such tools in forestry and climate change applications. Thus, we advocate for documenting initialization processes in a transparent and reproducible manner in forest landscape modelling.
Forests are projected to undergo dramatic compositional and structural shifts prompted by global changes, such as climatic changes and intensifying natural disturbance regimes. Future uncertainty makes planning for forest management exceptionally difficult, demanding novel approaches to maintain or improve the ability of forest ecosystems to respond and rapidly re‐organize after disturbance events. Adopting a landscape perspective in forest management is particularly important in fragmented forest landscapes where both diversity and connectivity play key roles in determining resilience to global change. In this context, network analysis and functional traits combined with ecological dynamic modeling can help evaluate changes in functional response diversity and connectivity within and among forest stands in fragmented landscapes. Here, we coupled ecological dynamic modeling with functional traits analysis and network theory to analyze forested landscapes as an interconnected network of forest patches. We simulated future forest landscape dynamics in a large landscape in southern Quebec, Canada, under a combination of climate, disturbance, and management scenarios. We depicted the landscape as a functional network, assessed changes in future resilience using indicators at multiple spatial scales, and evaluated if current management practices are suitable for maintaining resilience to simulated changes in regimes. Our results show that climate change would promote forest productivity and favor heat‐adapted deciduous species. Changes in natural disturbances will likely have negative impacts on native conifers and will drive changes in forest type composition. Climate change negatively impacted all resilience indicators and triggered losses of functional response diversity and connectivity across the landscape with undesirable consequences on the capacity of these forests to adapt to global change. Also, current management strategies failed to promote resilience at different spatial levels, highlighting the need for a more active and thoughtful approach to forest management under global change. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of combining dynamic landscape scale simulation modeling with network analyses to evaluate the possible impacts of climate change as well as human and natural disturbances on forest resilience under global change.
See my CV for contributions prior 2016