CURRENT PROJECTS

SOIL MICROBIAL & ORGANIC MATTER RESPONSES TO drought and fire

Drought and fire are two common ecological disturbances in semi-arid savanna rangelands in Texas. Interactions between drought and fire may lead to changes in soil microbial and faunal communities with consequences for nutrient cycling, soil organic matter formation, and therefore aboveground productivity. We are studying the responses of soil microbial and nematode communities and organic matter to interactive drought and fire disturbances at a Drought-Net site in a semi-arid savanna rangeland in West Texas. The results of this work are forthcoming.

 

SOIL FOOD WEB RESPONSES TO FIRE DISTURBANCE

Soil communities play a critical role in regulating carbon and nitrogen cycling belowground. Fires are expected to increase in both frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change. Understanding the impact of fire on soil food webs is key to predicting changes in ecosystem carbon and nitrogen cycling. My investigates the effects of fire on soil food web structure, function, and dynamics in the Arctic tundra in Northern Alaska and in an Oak-Pine Savannah in Southeastern Oklahoma.

RELATED PUBLICATIONS:

*Pressler, Y., Moore, J.C., Cotrufo, M.F. (2019). Belowground community responses to fire: meta-analysis reveals contrasting responses of soil microorganisms and mesofauna. Oikos. *Editor’s Choice

Koltz, A. M., Burkle, L. A., Pressler, Y., Dell, J. E., Vidal, M. A., Richards, L. A. & Murphy, S. M. (2018). Global change and the importance of fire for the ecology and evolution of insects. Current Opinions in Insect Science, 29, 110-116.

Koltz, A. M., Asmus, A., Gough, L., Pressler, Y., & Moore, J. C. (2018). The detritus-based microbial-invertebrate food web contributes disproportionately to carbon and nitrogen cycling in the Arctic. Polar Biology, 1-15.

 

PYROGENIC CARBON DISTRIBUTION in soils across europe

Pyrogenic carbon (PyC) is an important component of soil organic matter (SOM) because it can persist in soils for centuries to millennia. We seek to improve our estimates of soil PyC and better understand the patterns and controls on PyC distribution in soils. We acquired soils from variable soil types regardless of fire history from a topsoil database in Europe. We measured PyC using both an analytical chemistry technique (benzene polycarboxylic acids, BPCA) and a high throughput spectroscopic technique (Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectroscopy, DRIFTS). The results of this work are forthcoming.

 

CONSEQUENCES OF biochar and limited irrigation FOR soil food webS

Limited irrigation strategies and soil amendments are being explored to conserve water in crop production. Biochar is the recalcitrant, carbon‐based coproduct of biomass pyrolysis during bioenergy production. When used as a soil amendment, biochar can increase soil water retention while enhancing soil properties and stimulating food webs. We investigated the effects of coupled biochar amendment and limited irrigation on belowground food web structure and function in an irrigated maize agroecosystem.

RELATED PUBLICATIONS:

Pressler, Y., Foster, E. J., Moore, J. C., & Cotrufo, M. F. (2017). Coupled biochar amendment and limited irrigation strategies do not affect a degraded soil food web in a maize agroecosystem, compared to the native grassland. Global Change Biology Bioenergy, 9(8), 1344-1355.

Pressler, Y., Hunter-Laszlo, M., Bucko, S., Covitt, B.A., Urban, S., Benton, C., Bartholomew, M., Morrison, A.J.*, Foster, E.J., Parker, S.D., Cotrufo, M.F., Moore, J.C. (2019). Teaching authentic soil and plant science in middle school classrooms with a biochar case study. The American Biology Teacher.