Smith, Thomas M.
Office: 342 Clark Hall
Theoretical ecology, vegetation modeling, global ecology.
My major research interest has been the development of an individual-based theory of vegetaton dynamics. The focus of the research is to examine how basic physiological and morphological constraints operating at the level of the individual plant influence pattern and process at higher levels of organization (i.e., populations, communities and ecosystems). This interest has led me to pursue a variety of studies to address the mechanisms of plant pattern across a wide range of scales. These studies have ranged from the development of individual-based ecosystem models to laboratory and field experiments examining the response of plants to environmental gradients.
Most recently my research has turned to the development and application of models to explore the response of the terrestrial biosphere to environmental change. Current work is focusing on the potential impacts of rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2, and associated changes in the global climate system on terrestrial ecosystems. Specific studies have examined: (1) the potential impacts of a climate change on global patterns of vegetation distribution, and (2) how the predicted changes in vegetation distribution will influence the role of the terrestrial biosphere in the global carbon cycle.