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CRM Virtual Speaker Series: The Memories and Lives of Old Trees and What They Can Tell Us About Climate History

April 27, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Connecticut River Museum Talks with special guest Neil Pederson, Senior Ecologist, Harvard University Forest

Did you know that, until recently, people in the Northeastern US have been living in one of the wettest eras of the last 500 years? Trees do. Did you know that, until recently, global warming had not impacted the Northeastern US like it had in other regions or the globe as a whole? How do we know these things? Trees are witnesses of how our shared environment changes over time. The oldest trees, in fact, and perhaps not surprisingly, often have the best stories. As a person curious about trees, forests, and how they survive over time, the memories of trees, as embedded in their rings, are a great natural database to learn about history. In this lecture, I will share how we have learned to recognize and “interview” the eldest trees in the forest. Their stories can give us insight on how our futures might play out as climate change continues.

Neil is a Senior Ecologist at the Harvard Forest who studies the dynamics and long-term development of forests from individual trees to across regions and subcontinents. He is especially interested in the response of trees as they interact with climate and as they interact amongst themselves. Neil conducts basic and applied research to help develop ecologically-based, long-term forest management. He digs natural history, charismatic megaflora, and old-growth forests. Neil is also very curious about the growth, longevity, and ecology of broadleaf trees and forests.

Neil grew up in rural Volney, NY, in the Adirondack Mountain forests, and on the tasty bass grooves of Les Claypool. He earned an associates’ degree in math while playing lacrosse at SUNY-Morrisville, got a bachelor’s degree at SUNY-College of Environmental Science & Forestry, and a MS at Auburn University studying an old bottomland hardwood forest in South Carolina. After a stint as a tree-ring technician assisting on climate change research in Mongolia and Russia at the Tree-Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, he earned a PhD studying forest ecology and climate change along the eastern US seaboard at Columbia University. Before becoming a senior ecologist in Fall 2014 at the Harvard Forest, Neil was an assistant professor in biology at Eastern Kentucky University and a research professor at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

He currently has grants with the US Forest Service and National Science Foundation to study the impacts of extreme climate on the lives of trees in the Northeastern US and how climate might have shaped the old-growth forests we love today.

The Connecticut River Museum may record this webinar, including all questions, comments, etc. by the audience. By participating, you agree to allow the recording to be posted on the Connecticut River Museum’s website, Facebook page, Instagram feed, and other media. Please consider a donation to support CRM. If you have already donated, thank you for your support.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
6:00 – 7:00 pm
Members $5.00
Non-Members $10.00

Click here to register!

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