Science Café highlights effects of insect outbreaks in forests

Gregory Pec
Gregory Pec

WHAT: University of Nebraska at Kearney Science Café

HOSTED BY: Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Honor Society

TITLE: “Forest recovery following insect outbreak”

TOPIC: North American landscapes are being transformed by widespread tree decline and mortality caused by native and invasive forest pests. UNK assistant biology professor Gregory Pec will discuss how tree loss following biotic disturbance alters plant and soil microbial communities, soil biogeochemical processes and ultimately the recovery of these forests. Specifically, he will focus on two major forest pests: the mountain pine beetle in western North America and hemlock woolly adelgid in New England. His results highlight the far-reaching effects of large-scale insect outbreaks, with substantial changes in soil-mediated processes that may result in species replacement following the reorganization of stand structure.

PRESENTER: Pec’s lab group addresses both basic and applied questions to the restoration and management of terrestrial ecosystems, with the ultimate goal of improving the ability to restore disturbed and degraded lands into self-sustaining ecosystems. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Ramapo College of New Jersey, a Master of Chemical and Life Sciences from the University of Maryland, a Master of Science from the California State Polytechnic University and a doctorate from the University of Alberta. Following his graduate studies, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta and University of New Hampshire. Pec joined the UNK Department of Biology in August. His research interests include community ecology, disturbance and restoration ecology, plant ecology and soil biology and biochemistry.

TIME: 5:30 p.m.

DATE: Monday, Dec. 9

PLACE: The Loft, Cunningham’s Journal, 15 W. 23rd St., Kearney

CONTACT: Allen Thomas, UNK associate professor of chemistry, 308.865.8490,