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 REINFORCE project webpage to know more.
Ph.D. in Forest Ecology, 2015
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
MSc in Forestry and Environmental Science, 2010
University of Padua, Italy
Natural disturbances exacerbated by novel climate regimes are increasing worldwide, threatening the ability of forest ecosystems to mitigate global warming through carbon sequestration and to provide other key ecosystem services. One way to cope with unknown disturbance events is to promote the ecological resilience of the forest by increasing both functional trait and structural diversity and by fostering functional connectivity of the landscape to ensure a rapid and efficient self-reorganization of the system. We investigated how expected and unexpected variations in climate and biotic disturbances affect ecological resilience and carbon storage in a forested region in southeastern Canada. Using a process-based forest landscape model (LANDIS-II), we simulated ecosystem responses to climate change and insect outbreaks under different forest policy scenarios—including a novel approach based on functional diversification and network analysis—and tested how the potentially most damaging insect pests interact with changes in forest composition and structure due to changing climate and management. We found that climate warming, lengthening the vegetation season, will increase forest productivity and carbon storage, but unexpected impacts of drought and insect outbreaks will drastically reduce such variables. Generalist, non-native insects feeding on hardwood are the most damaging biotic agents for our region, and their monitoring and early detection should be a priority for forest authorities. Higher forest diversity driven by climate-smart management and fostered by climate change that promotes warm-adapted species, might increase disturbance severity. However, alternative forest policy scenarios led to a higher functional and structural diversity as well as functional connectivity—and thus to higher ecological resilience—than conventional management. Our results demonstrate that adopting a landscape-scale perspective by planning interventions strategically in space and adopting a functional trait approach to diversify forests is promising for enhancing ecological resilience under unexpected global change stressors.
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.
I occasionally publish posts in Forest Monitor and in the EFI Resilience Blog
See my CV for contributions prior 2016