Current Projects:

Boreal peatland decomposition dynamics (with Rosa Del Giudice)

Peatlands are particularly important for the Boreal carbon balance. As warmer temperatures are expected to increase decomposition, the resulting release in CO2 could potentially switch the Boreal peatland system from being a carbon sink to a carbon source.  At the same time, changes in the aboveground plant community could alter the decomposability of the peat substrate.  Whether these two factors will be additive, synergistic or antagonistic in their contribution to the carbon budget is unknown.  This research seeks to quantify decay dynamics of different Boreal peatland plant species under different temperature regimes. We will quantify decomposability of different plant species, and use a mass-balance approach to understand carbon dynamics. This research is done using mesocosms, litterbags, and C13-labelled substrates.

Patterns of above and belowground biodiversity in restored prairie (with Rachel Chambers)

Using restored tallgrass prairie sites in southern Ontario, we are exploring how patterns in aboveground and belowground biodiversity correlate across space and time, and quantify the relative importance of environmental drivers underlying these patterns.  Specifically, we will address how adjacent landcover types (forest versus agriculture) influences diversity at different spatial scales.

Plant functional traits as determinants of aboveground-belowground linkages (with Julia Palozzi)

Plant litter quantity and quality is a driving factor in belowground processes of decomposition and nutrient dynamics.  In this research we take a plant functional trait approach to understand how changes in plant communities can influence soil properties, and how any changes in soil properties due to shifting plant communities can feedback to structure plant communities.  We are exploring these ideas at both the site (poor versus intermediate fen sites) and microsite (hummock versus hollow) scales in boreal peatlands.

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