Ellen Esch

CNI Fellow - Class of 2015

Graduate Student, Ecology
UC San Diego


Effects of Precipitation and Invasion Regimes on Decomposition Rates and Carbon Storage Potential


California is predicted to face a climate change-induced rainfall regime, characterized by increased periods of drought punctuated by high rainfall years. Shifting rainfall often precedes invasion by non-native grasses into historically shrub-dominated systems. Both of these phenomena have the potential to alter ecosystem-level carbon storage capabilities, impacting both productivity and decomposition processes. I am specifically focused on how decomposition processes are likely to change, and impact carbon storage, in future climate scenarios. 


I aim to better understand how decomposition processes are likely to change — and impact carbon storage — in future climate scenarios. I hope to apply this research directly to understanding carbon storage dynamics in the University of California Natural Reserve System. This research may have further applicability in identifying carbon storage potential of any restoration projects.

Future Plans

I hope to continue work on, and expand, this general carbon storage topic for the bulk of my dissertation research.


Elsa Cleland