I investigate how climate shapes the geographic distributions of genes, species, and ecosystems, and how this understanding can inform biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change. I primarily study plants using big data. My current projects, a sample of which are listed below, involve synthesizing large datasets on species occurrences, plant functional traits, climate, population genetics, phylogenetics, and species endangerment to answer questions related to conservation biogeography. See my CV for past work and publications.


Tailwinds. Gene flow and species range shifts are essential for biodiversity adaptation to climate change. In plants, this happens largely through wind dispersal. How do prevailing wind patterns shape plant movement dynamics at the population genetic and species range levels? And how does wind align with spatial climate change patterns to facilitate or hinder adaptive migration?

Seeds of change. As climate change threatens the fitness of locally adapted populations, land managers have opportunities to proactively consider genetic adaptation to future climates when selecting where to source seeds for ecological restoration projects. We are working on improved predictive modeling tools that integrate data on species ranges, landscape genetics, past and future climate, and soils to help support climate-smart decision making. Coauthors: Patrick Gonzalez, Stacy Jacobsen, Sean Brown, and Amelia Harvey

Dimensions of climate vulnerability. Predicting vulnerability to climate change is a key challenge for land managers. How does variation in sensitivity to different climate variables, and in the rate and nature of climate change, shape predicted patterns of climate exposure? And how do alternative paradigms of climate novelty affect vulnerability projections and management approaches? In this project we explore these questions at a regional scale with a focus on vegetation types across the western US. Coauthors: Healy Hamilton and Stephanie Auer

Conservation biogeography of the California flora. How can the evolutionary properties of lineages and landscapes inform our knowledge of historical biogeography, and our priorities for conservation in the face of future global change? With the California Plant Phylodiversity Project we are using new spatial and phylogenetic data to explore macroecological and macroevolutionary patterns across 5000+ California plant species. Coauthors: CPPP

Functional biogeography of fire. Today’s maps of wildfire regimes are based on top-down geophysical parameters and historic fire records. What can we learn from constructing a bottom-up alternative based on fire-related functional traits of the local vegetation communities? Coauthor: Jens Stevens

Chilefornia. The western coasts of North and South America exhibit strikingly similar climate gradients, and yet are set within very different biogeographic contexts. By comparing the phylogeography and macroecology of plants across these two geophysical stages, we can shed light on the roles of historical versus contemporary biogeography in shaping modern biodiversity patterns. Coauthors: Patricio Pliscoff, Taryn Fuentes

Global weirding. Where will anthropogenic climate change deliver a future climate similar to extreme historic years, and where will it deliver “global weirding” – a breakdown of historic correlations among variables, in which future years represent climates with no historic analog? We apply a novel index of multivariate global weirding to late 20th-century trends to map the nature of changes in the covariance structure of climate regimes. Coauthor: Andrew Crane-Droesch

Bay Area fire weather. Devastating wildfires in the hills near Berkeley are historically associated with Diablo Winds driven by unusual weather conditions. We are exploring the use of machine learning algorithms like self organizing maps to model trends in these synoptic weather patterns. Coauthors: David Ackerly, Bill Collins, and Max Moritz