UCL Division of Biosciences


CBER External Seminar - Dr Sean McMahon, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

20 November 2023, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Title: 'Cultures of Carbon and Biodiversity: The Problem of Forests in the Earth System'

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Amy Godfrey


Roberts Building

Abstract: Forests possess two important qualities of great relevance to earth’s systems: they represent an incredibly species-rich biome and are a critical regulator of the global carbon cycle. These two qualities, diversity and carbon, are now recognized as needing integration in conceptual, functional, and predictive research on climate change. In this talk, I will offer some context to these two contrasting ways of thinking about forests, and then discuss some ways they are being integrated, again, conceptually, functionally, and in the predictive realm. This integration marks a central challenge to both the improvement of Earth System models as well as better predicting the future of our biodiversity crisis.

About the Speaker

Dr Sean McMahon

Principal Investigator, Senior Scientist at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

My lab is focused on understanding how tree demography--the growth, survival, and recruitment of individual stems--is driven by physiological and environmental processes. We also study how demographic dynamics drive large-scale patterns of forest structure, function, and diversity. Much of our work evolves from using extant data from both the Smithsonian's ForestGEO network, FIA, remote sensing data sets, and extensive research of Geoffrey Parker, a colleague and forest ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, where we are based. We also explore these questions by collecting new data whenever possible. If a research focus is on forest dynamics, there is no limit to the kinds of projects we want to weave into our team.

More about Dr Sean McMahon