Search Target

Bambi, Smokey Bear, and introduced enemies: biodiversity collapse within the Eastern Deciduous Forest Biome

Dr. Walter Carson, Biology, University of Pittsburgh 

Monday, April 24, 2017
5:15 pm - 6:15 pm


Eastern deciduous forests are changing in species composition and diversity outside of classical successional trajectories. Three disturbance mechanisms appear central to this phenomenon: fire frequency is reduced, canopy gaps are smaller, and browsers are more abundant.  This seminar explores the broad-scale and negative consequences of these altered disturbance and browsing regimes for the biodiversity of the Eastern Deciduous Forest Biome.  While there has been an extraordinary amount of attention on climate change, our results suggest that contemporary ecological processes (e.g., over-browsing and fire suppression) are causing catastrophic declines in biodiversity, and in combination with introduced pests and pathogens, are creating forests that have much lower biodiversity than forests that regenerated less than a century ago.  


About the speaker

Dr. Walter Carson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and a former University of Pittsburgh Fellow in Sustainability. He is currently a Charles Bullard Fellow in Forest Research at Harvard.  His research is focused on forest ecology both in the Neotropics, particularly Panama, and throughout the Eastern Deciduous Forest Biome.  He has focused on the causes of forest change that are occurring throughout much of the New World often leading to depauperate habitats over large geographic scales.  He received his doctorate from Cornell University and completed postdoctoral research at Princeton University.


David Sloan Wilson, Director 

Susan Ryan, Program Manager
evos @

Last Updated: 12/4/20