California Ecosystem Dynamics

For this project, BIDS-Accenture Global Environmental Change Research Scholar R.J. Cody Markelz focuses on the intersection between invasive species, climate change, and wildfire in California ecosystems. Using his background in functional genomics and physiological ecology, Markelz applies these expertise areas to larger spatial scale models to better understand climate change and the impacts of fire on California ecosystems and biodiversity.

Working with Anna Holmquist (a PhD candidate in the Rausser College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley), BIDS Faculty Affiliate Rosemary Gillespie, and BIDS Biodiversity and Environmental Science Lead Ciera C. Martinez, Markelz is developing a multi-level modeling framework that incorporates environmental variables, satellite data, historical species observations, and environmental DNA (eDNA) data across fire regimes in Californian ecosystems. 

The collated data sets and resulting modeling framework will enable researchers to better understand the impact of historical and recent fire on arthropod communities in sites across the University of California Natural Reserve System, and the team hopes that this framework will be able to be applied to other open questions regarding fire and biodiversity. This is a unique project that is rooted in basic research but provides an opportunity to design a framework for interoperability between different data types. The project outcomes will be disseminated through a research blog and tutorials, open-source code, and regular open publications. 

The BIDS-Accenture Global Environmental Change Research Fellowship is a full-time two-year position at BIDS made possible by funding from Accenture Applied Intelligence, and it was launched in 2021.  As part of the fellowship, mentors from BIDS and Accenture, including BIDS Senior Research Data Scientist Karthik Ram and BIDS Faculty Affiliate David Ackerly, provide support to navigate the current data landscape in order to address urgent, complex and critical environmental issues  — such as researching how biodiversity is affected by increasing wildfires — and work toward improvements in research, innovative approaches to sustainability, and effective governmental policy recommendations.