Ellen H. Esch

Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve

Increased temperatures, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, nitrogen deposition, and altered precipitation regimes threaten the stability of ecosystems worldwide. Implications of these global changes include aboveground shifts in community composition, altered species phenology and ranges, and changing rates of vegetation production and litter decomposition, among others. Vegetation and decomposition feedbacks to ecosystem processes represent a major source of uncertainty in climate change scenarios. In parallel, these global changes also impact socio-environmental systems, such as agricultural landscapes, with ramifications on global sustainability.

My research is situated at the intersection of community and ecosystem ecology and seeks to better understand ecosystem and community-level responses to interacting global change processes. Specifically, my research investigates processes shaping ecosystem function, and how ecological processes respond to global environmental change. Through this research, I hope to improve natural resource management and increase ecosystem resilience to create a more sustainable future.

Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Guelph within Andrew MacDougalls Lab. Here, I aim to understand the impact of climatic variability on agricultural yields across soil fertility, management intensity, and crop diversity gradients.

Prior to coming to the University of Guelph, I was a PhD student at the University of California San Diego working with Elsa Cleland. My research showed that invasion by exotic plants can alter ecosystem response to drought via increased phenological sensitivity.

I received my undergraduate degree at Carleton College where I worked as an undergraduate researcher and subsequently as a lab manager with Daniel Hernandez. Our work investigated the interacting effects of nitrogen deposition and grazing in a serpentine grassland, and also successional dynamics in tallgrass prairie.