Michael O'Brien

Table of contents

Research Interests

I am a community ecologist and eco-physiologist interested in the maintenance and loss of biodiversity and its impacts on the structure and functioning of ecosystems. My research interests have broadly focused on how plants live and die in a changing climate and the subsequent effects on forest communities. Because forests are both sensitive to and buffers against climate change, they represent an important component for maintaining ecosystem functions. Using a combination of controlled manipulations in greenhouses, field experiments and long-term observational data, my research focuses on disentangling the role of trait differences, environmental heterogeneity and species interactions in maintaining plant species diversity under novel climatic regimes and global change drivers.


2013 - 2015 Post-doctoral Researcher, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies and Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland, Funded by the University Research Priority Program for Global Change and Biodiversity
2010 - 2013 Ph.D. student, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland, Thesis: The role of functional-traits in the response of tropical forests to global change
2007 - 2009 M.Sc., Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, USA
2005 - 2007 Lecturer Forest Ecology and Measurements Course, Summer Field Ecology Program, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
2007 - 2005 Research Assistant, Forest Ecology Lab, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
2001 - 2008 B.Sc., College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA