a. What is your background? Where are you from? What do you study? What are you most interested in, scientifically?
I am originally from East China and studied for one year in Canada for my bachelor thesis but currently, I am doing my master in Nature Management at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. I have touched many aspects in the Ecology area, from process-based dynamic vegetation model to correlative species distribution model, from remote sensing to functional biogeography. I am broadly interested in plant biogeography, macroecology, functional ecology, and ecological modeling. I am particularly interested in quantifying human disturbance on ecological processes and biodiversity patterns. I believe investigating this will help improve predictions and conservations of how nature will respond to rapid global change in the future. In my bachelor thesis, I was trying to relate habitat suitability derived from species distribution model to aboveground forest characteristics while in my master thesis, I turned my eye into trait-based approach as it is pivotal for understanding which kinds of species are likely to survive in the specific area and adapt to the rapidly changing environmental conditions. For my master thesis, I am using the trait-based approach to understand human disturbance in driving woody and herbaceous plant functional composition in temperate forest understory communities.
b. What are your goals for the upcoming course in Peru? How will you know if you’ve met these goals?
I have two goals in this field course in Peru. The first one is to gain my fieldwork experience and drone-based remote sensing knowledge. As most of my past research experiences are sitting behind the computer to do the modeling, this course is a perfect chance to enhance my fieldwork background. I am interested in applying remote sensing into functional ecology as it is convenient for researchers investigating at larger scales and show the spatial patterns of trait variation at landscape scales. The second is to get broad insights into different approaches in trait-based ecology from collaboration with other groups. My goals could be assessed by whether we have the well-structured field data and what extent that I understand other groups’ research aim and techniques.
c. What are you most excited about, with respect to the upcoming course and trip?
I am most excited about learning a lot of new skills and meeting a lot of outstanding young ecologists around the world. I am pretty sure we will do an excellent job and have lots of funs in the course even though we will meet many difficulties that I could never imagine so far. Another exciting thing is to explore the Peruvian Andes mountain and cloud forest ecosystem as this is my first time in South America, and I am inquisitive about the Andes mountain ecosystem and local sense.
d. What do you anticipate people will think about climate change in Peru? Do you think most people will accept that the planet is warming, and that this is largely being caused by human activities? Or will this topic be controversial?
I think people Peru accept climate change and mainly being caused by human activities as South America has many biodiversity hotspots and they may see some animals are disappearing. Also, El Niño has a strong impact on Peru, from fishery to daily life. People may notice climate change has an impact on their daily life through extreme events and their jobs and economy related to the fishery.
e. What do you know about public perceptions of climate change in your home country? What, if anything, have you experienced related to public perceptions of climate change?
It is hard to conclude public perception of climate change in China as we have such a huge population and the variation is extremely high among different areas. My province, Jiangsu, is one of the most developed regions in China and also has been affected by the Monsoon climate strongly. People have a higher level of awareness of climate change because here has more public activities and advertisements relating to climate change and people are suffering extreme hot summer recently. I have a lot of experiences related to public perceptions of climate change, mostly play the role of educator. I was a teaching assistant for an online environmental education course, and now I am a volunteer editor for the Wiley Ecology China Wechat account, summarizing papers published by Wiley and translating them into Chinese to make findings available for a broader Chinese-speaking audience. Most papers that I summarized were related to the climate theme.