Dirac Twidwell, assistant professor and rangeland ecologist, will present “Eco-evolutionary Disturbance Regimes and the Conservation of Pattern and Process in Great Plains Ecosystems” at 3:30 p.m., Oct. 15 in the Hardin Hall auditorium. The seminar, which is part of the School of Natural Resources fall series, is free and open to the public.
Human behavior has rapidly evolved from fire promoting to aggressively attempting to minimize its magnitude and variability. Today, nearly every region in the world enforces policies and laws that dictate when humans can ignite fires for the purposes of conserving fire-dependent ecosystem services. This globally observed shift in human behavior is an example of unprecedented global environmental change that can meet or surpass the effect of plant species invasions on fire regimes. In this seminar, Twidwell will show multiple case studies that demonstrate that the eco-evolutionary range of variability in fire behavior is critical to understanding plant and animal distributions and responses to fire.
Twidwell recently joined UNL’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. Twidwell’s research program emphasizes cross-disciplinary collaborations to determine how novel changes in disturbance regimes and land-use change the resilience and transformability of social-ecological systems. His research demonstrates that many undesirable sources of novelty in social-ecological systems, such as increasing wildfire disasters and broad-scale plant invasions, are the result of modern-day human decision-making and land management. Twidwell is currently developing projects to clarify the impacts of novelty on a diverse suite of ecosystem services – such as the conservation of endemic biodiversity and rare species, energy exploitation of terrestrial ecosystems, livestock production and the capacity to protect human life from wildfire disasters.