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THE PARADOX OF FOREST DISTURBANCE


Guest Lecture with Rupert Seidl
Disturbances such as wildfire, windthrow, and insect outbreaks are naturally occurring phenomena in forest ecosystems and important drivers of forest dynamics. They can affect large land areas and – by definition – disrupt ecological structures and processes. As a result of climate change, disturbances are increasing in many forest ecosystems around the globe. Yet, our understanding of disturbances and their roles in ecosystems is still in its infancy. The talk will highlight methods and results of current disturbance research. It will specifically address the paradoxical nature of disturbances, exploring their role as agents of stability while causing disruption, and discussing how they at the same time threaten and foster the ecosystem services humans derive from forests.

Rupert Seidl is professor of forest ecosystem management at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna. He received his PhD in 2008 from BOKU Vienna, and did PostDocs in the USA (Oregon State University) and Sweden (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). His main research interest is forest ecosystem dynamics with a specific focus on the causes and consequences of changing disturbance regimes in forests. He develops dynamic vegetation models to harness an improved understanding of forest dynamics for ecosystem management. Seidl has published his research widely in top-tier journals and has received a number of awards for his work, including the START prize of the Austrian Science Fund. In 2015 Seidl was elected into the Austrian Academy of Sciences.