Research in our lab focuses on ecological responses to global change, particularly in temperate forests. Approaches include long-term field experiments where forest plots are exposed to elevated CO2 levels or increased soil temperatures. Recent studies have shown that increased carbon dioxide affects forest community composition and succession, that warmer soil temperatures increase nitrogen availability and CO2 flux, and that the biomass and toxicity of poison ivy increases in response to elevated atmospheric CO2. Collectively, this work is important for predicting future responses of forest ecosystems to global change, including the ability of forests to mitigate human impacts on the global carbon budget.

(1) Effects of elevated CO2 on forest community composition and succession

My work included investigating effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on juvenile trees and other woody vegetation growing in the Duke University Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiment.

(2) Inherent genetic variation to affect vegetation response to global change, specifically CO2.

Maple Leaf

(3) Effects of rising temperatures on forest composition and biogeochemical cycles.

(4) Biomass and toxicity responses of poison ivy to elevated atmospheric CO2

A portion of this work was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: “Biomass and toxicological responses of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) to elevated atmospheric CO2” (Mohan et al. 2006).

5. Large scale (Macrosystem) observations of plant demographics and soil biogeochemistry.