Eric DeChaine

Eric DeChaine

Biography

Eric Dechaine is an Associate Professor of Biology at WWU and the Curator of the Pacific Northwest Herbarium (WWB). He explores how climate impacts the distribution and diversity of arctic-alpine plants - the early indicators of environmental change. Imagine an archipelago of oceanic islands. Now, place those islands atop mountains surrounded by a sea of forest. That is the alpine - isolated fragments of tundra in the sky. As the climate warms, the forest rises and the sky islands shrink, forcing plants to move, adapt, or die. To gauge how species might respond to changes, one needs to know where they occur. Yet, little is known about plants in remote arctic and alpine regions. So, DeChaine goes where no botanist has gone before. In the search for flowers, DeChaine has summited countless peaks, canoed numerous rivers, and trekked untold miles across Greenland and Scandinavia, Siberia, Japan, and the Americas, including a solo-ascent of Denali. Through field- and lab-work, his geographic and molecular analyses unearth the histories of arctic-alpine plants, the factors that have given rise to rare mountain taxa, and how those species may respond to future warming.