Integrating plant physiology and community ecology across scales through trait-based models to predict forest drought mortality. Anna Trugman is an ecologist with a multidisciplinary background in the earth sciences. Her research interests are centered around understanding the Earth system consequences of plant physiological processes and ecological interactions, particularly in water limited systems and novel climate conditions expected with anthropogenic climate change. Anna received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in Geological and Environmental Sciences, her Ph.D. from Princeton University in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and spent two years at the University of Utah in the Biology Department. She has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at UC Santa Barbara since 2019.
Plant physiological traits, and hydraulic traits in particular, have been shown to be critical for representing the underlying mechanisms governing forest productivity and mortality during periods of water limitation. However, our prediction of drought driven forest mortality is still remarkably limited. Here, I leverage existing large-scale trait databases and the United States (U.S.) Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) long-term permanent plot network, which contains >250,000 permanent plots across the contiguous U.S., to develop maps documenting the evolution of forest trait distributions in the U.S. over two decades from the year 2000 to the present. I then trait-based ecosystem models to understanding the physiological and ecological unknowns underlying observed patterns of disturbance and drought-driven mortality, which can have major carbon cycle consequences.