As a forest ecologist I am interested in the impact of global climate change on temperate and boreal forest ecosystems, especially how altered temperature regimes will impact southern and northern range limits. Trees go through seasonal cyclic changes, such as budburst or dormancy, and these phenological events are strongly influenced by temperature. Phenology is one of many factors that affect the fitness of species and the suitability of habitat. Temperature changes will therefore affect where species can survive and compete in the future. For example, species that are better able to ‘track’ climate change by leafing out and flowering earlier with increasing temperatures might be better able to outcompete slower species and move northwards faster than others. My research focuses on understanding the temperature cues that influence the phenology for a variety of temperate deciduous and coniferous tree species with the aim to better predict and model future suitable habitat ranges, in light of climate change.
In addition to my work on phenology, I am also passionate about ecosystem restoration. My M.S. thesis concentrated on comparing the forest conditions at the Knife River Indian Villages Historic Site in ND between 1984 and 2010 and to assemble restoration recommendations. I also worked for Friends of the Mississippi River as a contractor to write ecosystem restoration plans, and I am also a volunteer supervisor for Great River Greening and a Master Naturalist. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, downhill skiing, and hanging out with my kids and dogs.
Nanninga C, Buyarski C.R., Pretorius A.M. In Press. Increased exposure to chilling advances the time to budburst in North American tree species. Tree Phys.
Nanninga C. Comparison of forest conditions in the Knife River Indian Villages Park, ND, between 1984 and 2010. National Park Service.