David Goldblum joins department of Geography and EnvironmentMay 17, 2021
Story by Rob Rombouts; submitted photo
David Goldblum is passionate about teaching the human impact on the environment to students.
Goldblum researches natural and anthropogenic disturbances on forest, grassland and woodland plant communities, and will be joining the Department of Geography and Environment.
“The world’s plant communities are impacted by natural phenomenon – fire, floods, extreme weather events,” said Goldblum. “Human behaviour and impacts can interact with natural phenomenon, but also create new ones.”
While anthropogenic climate change is one example of human impact, there are other human actions that can impact plant communities as well. For instance, human interference with the natural fire regime of an environment, or logging and its impact on understory plant communities. Climate change can also increase how susceptible ecosystems are to other non-human threats, including the increased risk of fire and the invasiveness of exotic species.
“By nature of changing the climate, we are altering natural disturbance regimes and increasing the likelihood of extreme events that our plant communities are not evolved to handle,” said Goldblum. He has researched how tree growth is affected by climate change, in different environments, elevation zones and slope environments.
In Ontario, Goldblum has looked at how climate change is impacting sugar maple re-growth and regeneration at their northern limit.
Goldblum said his work on grasslands has restoration applications, and has led to management recommendations in Illinois and Alberta. Grasslands have been destroyed by agriculture, he said, but can be restored after human disturbance through the re-introduction of native species. Native grasslands are recognized as an important ecosystem in North America from the perspective of both biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
Goldblum comes from the University of Calgary, where he is head of the department of Geography. At Western, one of his courses will be part of the recently announced Climate Change and Society major.
“I’m extremely happy to be coming to Western,” said Goldblum. “I’m looking forward to being back in the Great Lakes region where I’ve done research and taught for 25 years.”