My research interests are focused on responses of arid to sub-humid ecosystems to climate change. Throughout my PhD dissertation, the main objective of my research was to study how interannual variability of precipitation affects patterns of primary production and to determine which mechanisms govern such responses. In order to investigate cause-effect relationships between precipitation variability and ecosystem response, I carried out a large-scale manipulative experiment, participated in modeling projects, and analyzed a worldwide long-term data set. My findings have shown that interannual precipitation variability itself has a strong effect on primary productivity and that this relationship is independent from the effects of precipitation amount. At the local scale, precipitation variability effects vary among plant-functional types; and, at the global scale, dry sites respond positively and mesic sites respond negatively to increases in interannual precipitation coefficient of variation.
In addition to my research, I also enjoy collaborative efforts. I have participated in a LTER synthesis group where we explored common controls of ecosystem processes across LTER sites and joined the Nutrient Network where we are exploring the effect of drought on productivity response to nutrient addition.
In the future, I plan to explore the effects of variability in climate and resource availability on ecosystem functioning. There is already a great deal of work assessing the effect of directional changes in resources (i.e. water, nutrients, CO2) and factors (i.e. temperature) on ecosystems. I am interested in exploring how changes in the variability of resources and factors themselves affect ecosystem functioning. In order to explore such effects, I use diverse approaches which range from manipulative experimentation to data mining and modeling. This approximation allows me to explore response patterns at different spatial and temporal scales.
Mónica Ladrón de Guevara
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow
My scientific interest is focused on climate change-induced effects on dryland ecosystems, especially as results of the responses of grasses and biological soil crusts to shifts in water availability. Currently, I’m investigating the adaptation capacity of dryland grasses to changes in precipitation patterns, the molecular mechanisms that could drive this process, its phenotypic effects and their links with ecosystem dynamics.