Scientists & Staff
I study how communities of soil organisms and the ecosystems they inhabit influence each other, and how these interactions are affected by human-induced changes such as air pollution or invasive species. In my research I am trying to understand how communities of symbiotic, tree-root associated fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, are altered by changing atmospheric chemistry, in particular increased nitrogen deposition, ozone, and carbon dioxide. I am especially interested in whether changing communities of mycorrhizal fungi buffer or increase the effects of environmental change. In addition, I am studying the effect of invasive soil organisms on forest ecosystems. By their consumption and mixing of soil organic matter, changes in movement of soil water, alteration of soil food webs, and consumption of roots, they have large effects on forests. We are studying both the distribution and effects of non-native soil organisms including non-native earthworms, isopods, weevils, ground beetles, termites and ants.
Here is a sampling of future project ideas: understand the effect of suites of invasive soil organisms on native biodiversity and ecosystem function; define the role of mycorrhizal fungal presence and community composition and structure in soil carbon formation; partition the roles of saprotrophic and ericoid mycorrhizal fungi in peatland carbon cycling.
Why This Research is Important
Soil organisms have a strong influence on the way ecosystems function. They process soil organic matter, releasing nutrients critical for forest productivity, and affect greenhouse gases via storage of organic carbon. Bacteria, fungi and soil invertebrates also make up a large part of the biodiversity that resides in them. Hundreds of species of symbiotic fungi are associated with each tree species. Most of the wild mushrooms seen in northern forests are the fruiting structures of these symbiotic fungi, providing a window into belowground diversity, contributing to both above- and belowground food webs. Many insects, salamanders, small mammals, birds and their predators rely on soil organisms as links in their food webs. Alterations in the abundance and diversity of soil organisms can thus have ripple effects throughout forest ecosystems. Soil organisms also provide important non-timber forest products such as wild edible and medicinal mushrooms. Thus, it is critical that we understand how soil organisms interact with our changing forest ecosystems.
- Cornell University, Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1999
- University of Vermont, M.S. Botany, 1991
- Harvard College, B.A. Anthropology, 1982
- Ecological Society of America
- Mycological Society of America
Featured Publications & Products
- Pardo, L.H.; Geiser, L.H.; Fenn, M.E.; Driscoll, C.T.; Goodale, C.L.; Allen, E.B.; Baron, J.S.; Bobbink, R.; Bowman, W.D.; Clark, C.M.; Emmett, B.; Gilliam, F.S.; Greaver, T.; Hall, S.J.; Lilleskov, E.A.; Liu, L.; Lynch, J.A.; Nadelhoffer, K.; Perakis, S.S.; Robin-Abbott, M.J.; Stoddard, J.L.; Weathers, K.C. 2011. Synthesis, Chapter 19.
- Bowman, W.D.; Baron, J.S.; Geiser, L.H.; Fenn, M.E.; Lilleskov, E.A. 2011. Northwestern forested mountains, Chapter 8.
- Pardo, L.H.; Goodale, C.L.; Lilleskov, E.A.; Geiser, L.H. 2011. Northern forests, Chapter 7.
- Pardo, L.H.; Lilleskov, E.A.; Geiser, L.H.; Robin-Abbott, M.J. 2011. Methods, Chapter 4.
- Perakis, S.S.; Geiser, L.H.; Lilleskov, E.A. 2011. Marine west coast forests, Chapter 9.
Publications & Products
- LeDuc, Stephen D.; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Horton, Thomas R.; Rothstein, David E. 2013. Ectomycorrhizal fungal succession coincides with shifts in organic nitrogen availability and canopy closure in post-wildfire jack pine forests.
- Shartell, Lindsey M.; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Storer, Andrew J. 2013. Predicting exotic earthworm distribution in the northern Great Lakes region.
- Hazard, Christina; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Horton, Thomas R. 2012. Is rarity of pinedrops (Pterospora andromedea) in eastern north America linked to rarity of its unique fungal symbiont?.
- Lilleskov, E.A.; Hobbie, E.A.; Horton, T.R. 2011. Conservation of ectomycorrhizal fungi: exploring the linkages between functional and taxonomic responses to anthropogenic N deposition.
- Gilliam, F.S.; Goodale, C.L.; Pardo, L.H.; Geiser, L.H.; Lilleskov, E.A. 2011. Eastern temperate forests, Chapter 10.
- Pardo, Linda H.; Fenn, Mark E.; Goodale, Christine L.; Geiser, Linda H.; Driscoll, Charles T.; Allen, Edith B.; Baron, Jill S.; Bobbink, Roland; Bowman, William D.; Clark, Christopher M.; Emmett, Bridget; Gilliam, Frank S.; Greaver, Tara L.; Hall, Sharon J.; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Liu, Lingli; Lynch, Jason A.; Nadelhoffer, Knute J.; Perakis, Steven S.; Robin-Abbott, Molly J.; Stoddard, John L.; Weathers, Kathleen C.; Dennis, Robin L. 2011. Effects of nitrogen deposition and empirical nitrogen critical loads for ecoregions of the United States.
- Shartell, Lindsey M.; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Storer, Andrew J.; Potvin, Lynette R.; Romanowicz, Karl J. 2011. Factors affecting the distribution and abundance of exotic earthworms in the Huron Mountain Club, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
- Van Diepen, Linda T.A.; Lilleskov, Erik; Pregitzer, Kurt S. 2011. Simulated nitrogen deposition affects community structure of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in northern hardwood forests.
- Lilleskov, Erik; Callaham, Jr. Mac A.; Pouyat, Richard; Smith, Jane E.; Castellano, Michael; Gonzalez, Grizelle; Lodge, D. Jean; Arango, Rachel; Green, Frederick. 2010. Invasive soil organisms and their effects on belowground processes.
- Cox, Filipa; Barsoum, Nadia; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Bidartondo, Martin I. 2010. Nitrogen availability is a primary determinant of conifer mycorrhizas across complex environmental gradients.
- van Diepen, Linda T.A.; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Pregitzer, Kurt S.; Miller, R. Michael. 2010. Simulated nitrogen deposition causes a decline of intra- and extraradical abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and changes in microbial community structure in northern hardwood forests.
- Andrew, Carrie; Lilleskov, Erik A. 2009. Productivity and community structure of ectomycorrhizal fungal sporocarps under increased atmospheric CO2 and O3.
- Lilleskov, Erik A.; Bruns, Thomas D.; Dawson, Todd E.; Camacho, Francisco J. 2009. Water sources and controls on water-loss rates of epigeous ectomycorrhizal fungal sporocarps during summer drought.
- Lilleskov, Erik A.; Mattson, William J.; Storer, Andrew J. 2008. Divergent biogeography of native and introduced soil macroinvertebrates in North America north of Mexico.
- Lilleskov, Erik A.; Wargo, Philip M.; Vogt, Kristiina A.; Vogt, Daniel J. 2008. Mycorrhizal fungal community relationship to root nitrogen concentration over a regional atmospheric nitrogen deposition gradient in the northeastern USA.
- Karberg, Noah J.; Lilleskov, Erik A. 2008. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fecal pellet decomposition is accelerated by the invasive earthworm Lumbricus terrestris.
- Lilleskov, Erik A.; Parrent, Jeri L. 2007. Can we develop general predictive models of mycorrhizal fungal community-environment relationships?.
- van Diepen, Linda T.A.; Lilleskov, Erik A.; Pregitzer, Kurt S.; Miller, R. Michael. 2007. Decline of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in northern hardwood forests exposed to chronic nitrogen additions.
- Chung, Haegeun; Zak, Donald R.; Lilleskov, Erik A. 2006. Fungal community composition and metabolism under elevated CO2 and O3.
- Lilleskov, Erik A.; Bruns, Thomas D. 2005. Spore dispersal of a resupinate ectomycorrhizal fungus, Tomentella sublilacina, via soil food webs.
- Giardina, Christian P.; Coleman, Mark; Binkley, Dan; Hancock, Jessica; King, John S.; Lilleskov, Erik; Loya, Wendy M.; Pregitzer, Kurt S.; Ryan, Michael G.; Trettin, Carl. 2005. The response of belowground carbon allocation in forests to global change.
- Lilleskov, Erik A.; Bruns, Thomas D.; Horton, Thomas R.; Taylor, D. Lee; Grogan, Paul. 2004. Detection of forest stand-level spatial structure in ectomycorrhizal fungal communities.
- Lilleskov, Erik A.; Bruns, Thomas D. 2003. Root colonization dynamics of two ectomycorrhizal fungi of contrasting life history strategies are mediated by.