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Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

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Climate, Fire, and Carbon Cycle Science

Soil Processes and Environmental Change

[Photo:] Symbiotic mycorrhizal fungus on pine roots helps trees get nutrients from the soil.Soils sustain ecosystem health and productivity by providing nutrients and water to plants, storing the majority of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems, filtering pollutants from water, and providing habitat for a diverse assemblage of soil organisms. We study how the capacity of soils to perform these functions is sensitive to climate change, air pollution, forest management, human and natural disturbances, and invasive species.

Research involves (1) understanding the controls and environmental responses of biomass allocation to above and belowground parts of trees; (2) understanding the community structure, functions and interactions of forest soil organisms, and their impact on ecosystems; (3) understanding the belowground process controlling carbon and nutrient cycles; (4) understanding the distribution of soil carbon, and its response to disturbance and climate change.  We have two unique research facilities for studying soil processes: a Rhizotron for studies in intact forests, and a Mesocosm facility for research on replicated small-scale ecosystems.  We have a significant role in the National Soil Carbon Network, a national initiative to improve the integration of soil carbon research and data.

Selected Research

Last Modified: 04/22/2009