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Research overview

Research themes

I am interested in how ecological communities influence ecosystem processes, focusing on the cycling through ecosystems of the major elements – carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus – that make life possible. For example,

1) How do the diversity and types of organisms, particularly plants, influence ecosystem carbon and nitrogen cycling and related ecosystem services (the benefits that society derives from natural processes)?

2) How are organisms and ecosystem processes responding to global environmental changes, particularly loss of biodiversity and nutrient enrichment?

My primary research goal is to do ecological science that helps to understand and implement ecological sustainability. My general interests in plant traits, biodiversity, ecosystem ecology, and sustainability have led to three general research topics recently:

1. Effects of plant composition and diversity on community assembly, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services;

Diverse community of serpentine wildflowers, interspersed with invasive grasses.

2. Nutrient cycling in Pacific Northwest watersheds;

Students in Ecology Lab (Biology 326) sampling stream invertebrates and water chemistry in Padden Creek, Bellingham, WA.

3. Overgrazing and restoration of grasslands of Inner Mongolia, China.

Sheep grazing near the Inner Mongolia Grassland Ecosystem Research Station (IMGERS), Inner Mongolia, China.

I give more detail on each of the different projects, under the “Research” and “Students” tabs, above. Prospective students can look there to see the types of projects currently happening in my lab.

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