Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Bond, William J.
Location University of Cape Town
Primary Field Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Secondary Field Evolutionary Biology
 Election Citation
Bond is an unusually creative scientist who has crafted new approaches to the study and understanding of the dynamics of co-evolution and community dynamics. He has brought new understanding of the role of fire in shaping the historical and contemporary landscapes of the world.
 Research Interests
I have worked on diverse aspects of the ecology and evolution of plant life but the central theme is the exploration of the ecology, biogeography and evolution of open (shade-intolerant) ecosystems. I am intrigued by shrublands, grasslands and savannas growing in climates capable of supporting closed forests. Palaeoecological and phylogenetic studies have revealed surprisingly ancient origins for the biota that constitute open ecosystems, surprising because they are often assumed to be produced by felling and burning of forests by people. My colleagues and I have explored both physical and biotic controls on the distribution of these systems using a variety of tools, from remote sensing and physiologically-based global vegetation models, to field studies and glasshouse experiments. Fire, herbivory, soils, and atmospheric chemistry (especially changing CO2), interact within a climate setting to determine the proportions of open versus forested vegetation. Because they are only indirectly influenced by climate, these ecosystems may show rapid and unexpected responses to changing disturbance regimes or to CO2-induced changes in the ability of plants to respond to fire, herbivory, or drought. Recognition of the large global extent of open ecosystems, and a greater appreciation of the sensitivity of the major growth forms to biotic and physical controls, has implications for land management and global change policy at local, regional and global scales.

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