Disturbance is major driver of terrestrial ecosystems across multiple scales. At a site scale, disturbance resets the clock of vegetation succession and creates multiple successional pathways through its interaction with site environmental conditions. At the global scale, disturbance helps to regulate global productivity and diversity. However, it is the at the landscape and regional scale that disturbance has been increasingly recognized as an indispensable process in shaping landscape structure and function. In this seminar, I will use three case studies that span from the US to China to illustrate the influence of disturbance on wildlife habitat and biodiversity, species distribution in response to climate change, and landscape heterogeneity and dynamics. Because disturbance process is inherently spatial and often covers large area, research of disturbance from the geoscience team has been mainly focusing on the detection and characterization of disturbance regimes with the modern geospatial technology. Here, I argue that it is the time to integrate ecological perspectives of disturbance with the physical geoscience to better understand the dynamic interactions of disturbance and land surface in a global change context, and identify key pathways for a sustainable human-earth system.
Dr. Jian Yang is an Assistant Professor of Forest Landscape Ecology at Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Kentucky. His research mainly involves disturbance, landscape ecology, ecosystem services, remote sensing, GIS, and spatial statistics. Dr. Yang has published more than 60 scientific papers in the areas of forest landscape modeling and wildland fires with the collaborators both in the US and China. He founded the Disturbance Ecology Group at the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and currently serves as a guest professor in the CAS.