The ECOTRESS Group focuses on quantifying the vulnerability of terrestrial natural ecosystems to repeated disturbances and prolonged degradation.

Research focus:

Identifying  ecological thresholds beyond which global changes cause abrupt, prolonged degradation of terrestrial ecosystems by stressing, disturbing, and killing forests.

Quantifying  ecological & climatological boundaries for tropical agricultural expansion and intensification.

Finding solutions to feed the planet while maintaining  the ecological integrity of terrestrial natural ecosystems.

To advance the science, we rely on field work (mostly Amazon), ecological modeling (simple is good), and the use of remote sensing techniques.

Lab Members

Paulo Brando
Assistant Professor
Phone: (949) 824-8794

Terrestrial ecosystem scientist.

My research explores the vulnerability of terrestrial natural ecosystems to repeated disturbances and prolonged degradation. My scientific toolbox includes a combination of field manipulation experiments, statistical and dynamic vegetation models, and remote sensing. These skills have  helped me to scale up results from the local to the regional scale. My Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Ecology has also facilitated my interaction with a wide range of disciplines to integrate knowledge from research specialists across different fields to contribute to potential solutions to tropical forest sustainability. I’m particularly interested in collaborating with policy-oriented NGOs (WoodwellClimate and IPAM, in particular) to disseminate scientific findings about land use change and climate change to a wide range of different societal groups.  

CV                          ResearchGate                      Publons                            GoogleScholar


Group members:

Maria Uribe (Postdoctoral fellow). My research is focused on understanding the feedbacks between climate and tropical ecosystems and how these feedbacks can be disrupted by global environmental change. I am particularly interested in the effects of changes in climate and land cover in the carbon cycle and storage in tropical forests.

Lucas Rodrigues (PhD student). I am a physicist interested in environmental-related simulation models. My work focuses on process-based ecosystem models, land-use change, and applied geostatistics. As a Ph.D. student at the Department of Earth System Science, I am interested in how the state-of-the-art simulation techniques such as Cellular Automata and Agent-Based Models can be applied to model complex forest degradation interactions due to land-use and climate change, especially in the Cerrado and Amazon biomes in Brazil. Previously I worked as an assistant researcher at the Amazon Environment Research Institute (https://ipam.org.br/en/) and as an environmental modeler consultant at the International Institute for Sustainability (https://www.iis-rio.org/en/).

Stephanie Stettz (PhD student). I am a PhD student in the department of Earth System Science, interested in studying how terrestrial ecosystems are affected by climate change through an interdisciplinary lens. Specifically, I want to use remote sensing and modeling techniques to analyze the interactions between the carbon and water cycles.  I am also passionate about studying societal impacts on our environment, such as the interactions between agriculture and natural ecosystems, as well as communicating climate change impacts.

Ved Bhoot (PhD student).  As a background, I received my bachelors from UC Berkeley 2018 in Environmental Earth Science. During my senior year I worked on statistical analysis on data from an ecosystem demographics model focusing on equilibrium dynamics. After graduation, I interned at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where I collected and improved meteorological data for input into a hydrological model for the Cosumnes watershed. I then joined LBL as a research assistant where I worked in a stable isotope lab and also researched Californian coastal algal blooms through a machine learning approach.  My interests are in understanding complex interactions between biological, physical (mesoscale climate and disturbance), and chemical systems (carbon particularly, and other major nutrient cycles), especially through understanding biological responses to physical disturbances, such as fires and storms and how they affect ecosystems. An amazing part of places like the Amazon rainforest is the sheer volume of these complex interactions and the increasing need to understand them. The direction I plan to tackle these problems is through statistical approaches such as machine learning, from algorithms like random forest and deep learning, using remote sensing and ground observation datasets in order to better understand high order ecosystem processes, forecast their future, and help figure out pathways for resilience.

Andreia Ribeiro is a postdoctoral fellow at the Land-Climate Dynamics group of ETH since December 2020, under a Brazilian-Swiss joint research project, about climate-related risks in Amazon and Cerrado. The parties involved in this project include the ETH (Sonia Seneviratne), the University of Bern and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in Leipzig (Jakob Zscheischler), the Amazon Environmental Research Institute – IPAM, Belém, Brazil (Ludmila Rattis) and the UC Irvine (Paulo Brando). In a first moment, this project aims to address the risks of exceeding the largest climate-related impacts in terms of fire activity and agricultural output, using multivariate statistical methods; in a second moment, to compare with impact model simulations and, in a third moment, to address the risks associated with climate change.

We are recruiting! If you are interested in joining the lab, please send me an email and check out the UCI-ESS website. You may be the first student to join the lab at Irvine. But you will be part of a larger group, including several students  in Brazil. Diversity, inclusion, and equity form the core values of the ECOSTRESS-I lab.



Former lab members:

Rodolfo de Abreu
Assistant Project Scientist

Siena  Chiyo. I am an undergraduate student pursuing a major in Earth System Science. While working in this lab, I will be using remote sensing to better understand how anthropogenic forces are affecting the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous peoples living within it. My goal is to: partner with a television network (Discovery Channel or National Geographic, specifically), inform the public of climate policies,  document the local population’s opinions, and translate the impact those actions will have on the environment, explained by climate scientists.

Research Projects

Tropical biomes: how agriculture intensification and climate may alter fire regimes. National Science Foundation-Macrosystems

Intensification in the world’s largest agricultural frontier: Integrating food production, water use, energy demand, and environmental integrity in a changing climate. National Science Foundation-INFEWS

Legacies of deforestation and forest degradation on across an Amazon agricultural frontier: effects on biodiversity, carbon cycling, and water resources. National Council for Scientific and Technological Development

Feedbacks among deforestation, agriculture expansion, and climate change: challenges and opportunities. National Council for Scientific and Technological Development.