Faculty member Kerry Woods participated in a multi-author study assessing the effects of climate change on forest understory communities in North America and Europe. Using multi-decade data-sets from 29 research sites analyses show that a general trend of compositional change reflecting increases in warm-adapted species may be moderated where forest canopies have become denser. This work was published online (before print) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in a paper titled “Microclimate moderates plant responses to macroclimate warming” (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1311190110). Woods contributed one of five data-sets from North America; his long-term studies in old-growth forests of northern Michigan have supported several other publications. Another of the North American data-sets is from Peter White of the University of North Carolina — a Bennington alum from 1971.
This research has been reported by the BBC, on Belgian national news (including a video clip of lead author Pieter de Frenne of University of Ghent — in Dutch), and in press releases from Oxford University and several other universities.