Land-use change and vegetation shifts in forest ecosystems: An exploration of soil ecology and biogeochemistry
About the Event:
Forest ecosystems provide a wide variety of ecological functions such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air purification, and maintenance of wildlife habitat. However, natural and anthropogenic forces such as climate change and forest overutilization can have direct consequences on the maintenance of these crucial forest ecosystem services. My research attempts to link aboveground changes to alterations in belowground processes by investigating two broad themes: (1) The resilience of soil biogeochemical processes and underlying microbial communities to anthropogenic disturbance such as timber harvest and (2) The effects of global-change-induced forest vegetation shifts and soil microbial structure on atmospheric chemistry. In this seminar, I will illustrate that both timber harvest and forest vegetation shifts can lead to complete reorganization of the soil microbial community thereby disrupting biogeochemical cycling, especially as it pertains to nitrogen cycle processes. I will also present ideas for future lines of research which will place strong emphasis on understanding how and why these observations differ in different geographic locations and across different lithology, novel interactions between carbon- and nitrogen-cycling microbes, and the biogeochemical role of underexplored microbial components such as soil viruses.
About the Speaker:
Ryan M. Mushinski is a United States Department of Agriculture Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. He earned his Bachelors of Science in Biology from Texas State University in 2012 and Ph.D. in Ecosystem Science from Texas A&M University in 2017. Ryan is an expert in the field of soil microbial biogeochemistry with a focus on plant-soil-microbial interactions, soil microbial ecology, and carbon and nutrient biogeochemistry. His primary research investigates the influence of land-use change and vegetation shifts on soil microbial ecology and associated function in forest ecosystems. Ryan utilizes an integrated approach involving molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics, field ecology, soil science, and analytical chemistry. Because much of his research is applied, Ryan actively translates scientific knowledge to actionable outcomes by working with land-managers to develop programs that integrate stakeholder concerns into research planning.
More information about Ryan’s work can be found on his website.