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The objectives of my current research are to 1. Understand the water quality effects of fire, 2. Measure the effects of fire on the carbon cycle and other biogeochemical cycles, 3. Characterize the combustion products of wildfire, mainly ash and charcoal, and 4. Link post-fire responses and the composition, physical characteristics, and reactivity of ash and charcoal to measures of burn severity detected on the ground or using remotely-sensed data. The overarching objective of my research is to understand runoff, erosion, deposition, and water quality effects after wildfire.
Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) has the potential to stimulate ecosystem productivity and sink strength, reducing the effects of carbon (C) emissions on climate. In terrestrial ecosystems, increasing [CO2] can reduce soil nitrogen (N) availability to plants, preventing the stimulation of ecosystem C assimilation; a process known as progressive N limitation. Using ion exchange membranes to assess the availability of dissolved organic N, ammonium and nitrate, we found that CO2 enrichment in an Australian, temperate, perennial grassland did not increase plant productivity, but did reduce soil N availability, mostly by reducing nitrate availability. Importantly, the addition of 2 °C warming...
Soil microbial respiration is a critical component of the global carbon cycle, but it is uncertain how properties of microbes affect this process. Previous studies have noted a thermodynamic trade-off between the rate and efficiency of growth in heterotrophic organisms. Growth rate and yield determine the biomass-specific respiration rate of growing microbial populations, but these traits have not previously been used to scale from microbial communities to ecosystems. Here we report seasonal variation in microbial growth kinetics and temperature responses (Q10) in a coniferous forest soil, relate these properties to cultured and uncultured soil microbes, and model the effects of shifting growth kinetics on soil...
Within the past few decades, humans have dramatically altered the earth?s nitrogen (N) cycle. Introduction of reactive nitrogen (N) into the biosphere by humans now exceeds the rate of biological N2-fixation in native terrestrial ecosystems (Galloway et al. 2004). This increased reactive N is due primarily to N fertilizer production and fossil fuel combustion used to support the food and energy demands of a rapidly expanding human population. The negative human and environment health effects of this increased N are many (Galloway et al. 2008; Howarth et al. 2005; UNEP and WHRC 2007). Denitrification is the main process that permanently removes fixed N from the environment. Denitrification, the microbial production...
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Invasions of the annual species cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in North American ecosystems present a threat to the population viability of native plant and animal species. In the interest of curtailing B. tectorum success, we manipulated the biogeochemistry of Canyonlands National Park soils in greenhouse and germination experiments. We compared growth parameters of B. tectorum and a native perennial, Hilaria jamesii, in greenhouse experiments utilizing 10 soil additives. Biomass of B. tectorum growing in conjuction with H. jamesii was greater than that growing in monocultures, suggesting facilitation of Bromus growth by H. jamesii. The opposite trend was true for H. jamesii, indicating that Bromus inhibits H. jamesii...
An experimental system for sampling trace gas fluxes through seasonal snowpack was deployed at a subalpine site near treeline at Niwot Ridge, Colorado. The sampling manifold was in place throughout the entire snow-covered season for continuous air sampling with minimal disturbance to the snowpack. A series of gases (carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds) was determined in interstitial air withdrawn at eight heights in and above the snowpack at ~hourly intervals. In this paper, carbon dioxide data from 2007 were used for evaluation of this technique. Ancillary data recorded inlcuded snow physical properties, i.e., temperature, pressure, and density. Various vertical...
To determine the dominant processes controlling nitrogen (N) dynamics in soils and increase insights into soil N cycling from nitrogen isotope (?15N) data, patterns of 15N enrichment in soil profiles were compiled from studies on tropical, temperate, and boreal systems. The maximum 15N enrichment between litter and deeper soil layers varied strongly with mycorrhizal fungal association, averaging 9.6 � 0.4? in ectomycorrhizal systems and 4.6 � 0.5? in arbuscular mycorrhizal systems. The 15N enrichment varied little with mean annual temperature, precipitation, or nitrification rates. One main factor controlling 15N in soil profiles, fractionation against 15N during N transfer by mycorrhizal fungi to host plants, leads...
To study the mechanisms, pathways, and rates of transformation of carbon and nitrogen compounds (natural and contaminant) mediated by microorganisms in aquatic habitats and identify factors controlling these transformations and to examine the effect that these transformations have upon other biogeochemical processes.
Abstract (from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL060199/abstract): While recent work demonstrates that glacial meltwater provides a substantial and relatively labile flux of the micronutrient iron to oceans, the role of high-latitude estuary environments as a potential sink of glacial iron is unknown. Here we present the first quantitative description of iron removal in a meltwater-dominated estuary. We find that 85% of “dissolved” Fe is removed in the low-salinity region of the estuary along with 41% of “total dissolvable” iron associated with glacial flour. We couple these findings with hydrologic and geochemical data from Gulf of Alaska (GoA) glacierized catchments to calculate meltwater-derived...
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These data were compiled for a study that investigated the effects of drought seasonality and plant community composition in a dryland ecosystem. In 2015 U.S. Geological Survey ecologists recorded vegetation and soil moisture data in 36 experimental plots which manipulated precipitation in two plant community types. The experiment consisted of three precipitation treatments: control (ambient precipitation), cool-season drought (-66% ambient precipitation November-April), and warm-season drought (-66% ambient precipitation May-October), applied in two plant communities (perennial grasses with or without a large shrub, Ephedra viridis) over a three-year period. These data were collected from 2015 to 2022 near Canyonlands...
Categories: Data; Tags: Achnatherum hymenoides, Botany, C3 photosynthesis, C4 photosynthesis, Canyonlands National Park, All tags...
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This data set presents attributes of floodplain ecosystem characteristics including floodplain soil denitrification, floodplain soil biogeochemistry, floodplain vegetation, floodplain sedimentation, floodplain and channel morphometry, stream discharge and water quality, floodplain climate, floodplain physiographic region, and catchment land cover. Attributes are associated with 18 floodplains of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. For many of these attributes, mean values are summaries of multiple measurements made within each floodplain site.
Effects of the northern pocket gopher (Thomomys talpoides) on surface soilcharacteristics were examined at the alpinesite of Niwot Ridge, CO. We measured erosionof soil from gopher mounds and compared thecharacteristics of gopher mound (disturbed) andundisturbed soils in two major plant communitytypes. Our measurements of erosion indicatelong-term susceptibility of gopher-disturbedsoils to redistribution by water and/or wind inthis ecosystem. Ecosystem heterogeneityintroduced by the gopher is reflected insignificantly lower SOM in gopher mounds thanin surrounding undisturbed soils, acharacteristic which appears to be causallyassociated with other effects of gopherdisturbance including changes in soil textureand...
A quantitative understanding of the factors controlling the variation of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in headwater streams is of scientific concern for at least two reasons. First, quantifying the overall carbon budgets of lotic systems is needed for a fundamental understanding of these systems. Second, DOC interacts strongly with other dissolved substances (heavy metals in particular) and plays an important role in the transport of contaminants. In the Snake River near Montezuma, Colorado, measurements of DOC from 1980 to 1986 show rapid decreases in concentration from a peak very early in the snowmelt period. Peak DOC concentrations occur approximately one month prior to peak discharge in the stream. The decline...
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In this study, we examined N gas loss as nitric oxide (NO) from N-fixing biologically crusted soils in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. We hypothesized that NO gas loss would increase with increasing N fixation potential of the biologically crusted soil. NO fluxes were measured from biologically crusted soils with three levels of N fixation potential (Scytonema-Nostoc-Collema spp. (dark)>Scytonema-Nostoc-Microcoleus spp. (medium)>Microcoleus spp. (light)) from soil cores and field chambers. In both cores and field chambers there was a significant effect of crust type on NO fluxes, but this was highly dependent on season. NO fluxes from field chambers increased with increasing N fixation potential of the biologically...
Our research seeks to evaluate and understand the processes that control and respond to changes in the level of CO 2 in the atmosphere. Our interests include the natural cycling of CO 2 and carbon through plants, soils, seawater, rocks, and sediments. We study the causes and effects of past geologic changes in atmospheric CO 2 levels, and the ongoing effects of human actions on CO 2 and climate.
The purpose of my research group is to develop new methods and applications of environmental isotopes to solve problems of national importance. In specific, the overall goal is to use environmental isotopes, combined with other biogeochemical measurements and hydrologic and biogeochemical modeling, to increase our understanding of biogeochemical and hydrological processes, nutrient and organic matter sources, subsurface flowpaths, and water age distributions in diverse environments. Many of our studies piggyback on the sampling efforts of major monitoring programs to investigate causes of hypoxia and food web problems. Our work provides critical scientific support for these monitoring programs. A long-term career...
Drainages are important features of semiarid landscapes because they are areas where surface water, groundwater, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems converge. Management of these critical ecohydrological systems requires a sound understanding of surface water?groundwater interactions. At the basin- to landscape-scale, drainage density, location, and channel characteristics are formed upon a geomorphic and geologic template that limit where and how surface water?groundwater interactions occur. At smaller scales, semiarid surface water?groundwater interactions exhibit a high degree of temporal and spatial variability that links directly to biogeochemical characteristics and ecosystem dynamics. In this paper, we...
For carbon sequestration the issues of monitoring, risk assessment, and verification of carbon content and storage efficacy are perhaps the most uncertain. Yet these issues are also the most critical challenges facing the broader context of carbon sequestration as a means for addressing climate change. In response to these challenges, Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle presents current perspectives and research that combine five major areas:• The global carbon cycle and verification and assessment of global carbon sources and sinks • Potential capacity and temporal/spatial scales of terrestrial, oceanic, and geologic carbon storage • Assessing risks and benefits associated with terrestrial,...
N limitation to primary production and other ecosystem processes is widespread. To understand the causes and distribution of N limitation, we must understand the controls of biological N fixation. The physiology of this process is reasonably well characterized, but our understanding of ecological controls is sparse, except in a few cultivated ecosystems. We review information on the ecological controls of N fixation in free-living cyanobacteria, vascular plant symbioses, and heterotrophic bacteria, with a view toward developing improved conceptual and simulation models of ecological controls of biological N fixation. A model (Howarth et al. 1999) of cyanobacterial fixation in lakes (where N fixation generally increases...
I conduct research focused on understanding the role of microorganisms on both contaminated and pristine ecosystems. I carry out this work using a polyphasic approach that combines microbiology, molecular biology, and biogeochemistry to understand microbial processes. My work specifically aims to (1) assess the impact of microorganisms on the fate of organic and inorganic contaminants; (2) to investigate the microbial role in metal cycling, e.g., iron, uranium, and manganese cycling; (3) evaluate the potential of microbial populations to contribute to energy resources, either through coal bed methane production or mitigating contaminants due to nuclear energy production or unconventional oil and gas production;...


map background search result map search result map Biogeochemical control of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) germination, emergence, and growth NO gas loss from biologically crusted soils in Canyonlands National Park, Utah Data on denitrification and ecological characteristics of nontidal floodplains, Chesapeake Bay watershed, USA, 2013-2016 Plant composition, shrub biomass, and soil biogeochemistry from an experimental drought treatment on the Colorado Plateau Plant composition, shrub biomass, and soil biogeochemistry from an experimental drought treatment on the Colorado Plateau Biogeochemical control of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) germination, emergence, and growth NO gas loss from biologically crusted soils in Canyonlands National Park, Utah Data on denitrification and ecological characteristics of nontidal floodplains, Chesapeake Bay watershed, USA, 2013-2016