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Spring's first STEM Lecture examines forest migration


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Sacramento State Geography Professor James Wanket will deliver the first presentation of the Spring 2014 STEM Scholars Lecture Series at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, in the University Union Redwood Room. His talk, “Forest Migration in a Warming World: Lessons from the Past,” will focus on his current research analyzing fossil evidence of past changes in tree species distribution.

Wanket’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is presented in collaboration with the Sacramento State One World Initiative theme for the 2013-14 academic year, “Global Perspectives on Migration.”

The concept of migration encompasses long-term changes in the spatial distribution of species. Even tree species can be considered to “migrate” when examined with a long-term perspective. While individual trees cannot move, tree species shift their spatial boundaries through time in response to changing environmental conditions. Because trees are the backbone of many ecosystems, understanding how trees migrate is essential for understanding the fundamental variability of forest environments.

Wanket studies our region’s natural lakes and wet meadows that provide archives of fossil pollen from surrounding forests. Fossil evidence then can be used to establish the comings and goings of tree species over timescales that include major environmental changes and help to predict the consequences of ongoing human-caused climate change for existing forest ecosystems.

Wanket earned a B.A. in geography from Humboldt State University and completed an M.A. and Ph.D. at the UC Berkeley. His current research uses fossil pollen and charcoal from lake sediments in Northern California and Nevada to reconstruct climate and ecosystem changes over the last several thousand years.

For more information, visit the Center for STEM Excellence website at Questions may be directed to The Center for STEM Excellence at (916) 278-2789 or

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Alan Miller