Dr. Sarah Praskievicz, associate professor, Department of Geography, Environment and Sustainability at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, will make a presentation.
Fluxes of water and sediment in rivers are affected by interactions between biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems. In forested watersheds, ecological disturbances (e.g. insect outbreaks, wildfires) and long-term environmental changes (e.g. forest succession, climate change) can cause changes in hydrology, sediment transport and river morphology. Her presentation will address forest-water-sediment interactions in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a protected area in the Southern Appalachians and a hotspot of both forest and freshwater biodiversity. As an example of eco-hydrological interactions, the talk will include an overview of fog interception in the spruce-fir forest of the park's highest elevations, as well as how the ecosystem is endangered by invasive insects and by the encroachment of hardwood trees from lower elevations. She will talk about the processes the project uses. She will also address the eco-geomorphic effects of large wood in park streams affected by the 2016 Chimney Tops 2 wildfire, a rare severe wildfire in the eastern U.S. A survey of burned and unburned wood in the affected streams found that the fire resulted in a major influx of wood and suggests that rare mass-mortality events could play a significant role in the wood dynamics of mountain streams in humid forested regions.
Dr. Preskievicz earned her PhD in Geography from the University of Oregon in 2014. She is a hydrologist and fluvial geomorphologist whose research interests include interactions between biotic and abiotic components of river systems, hillslope-channel sediment fluxes and the environmental justice of urban streams. She has published over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Hydrology, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms and Annals of the American Association of Geographers. Her research has been funded by the Resources Research Institute, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the National Science Foundation. She is also deeply involved with initiatives on STEM education and sustainability.