Wildfires are a natural disturbance in boreal forest ecosystems. They transform plant communities, release carbon into the atmosphere, and also release approximately 200 to 400 kg of nitrogen per hectare from the forest environment. Given a 200-plus year fire return interval and a virtual lack of herbaceous or woody nitrogen-fixing plants, it was not clear how nitrogen is replenished to maintain the long-term productivity of these fire-maintained forest ecosystems. Our work, says Professor DeLuca, demonstrates that an association between cyanobacteria and the ubiquitous carpets of feather mosses (predominantly Pleurozium schreberi and Hylocomium splendens) provides the nitrogen that is essential to sustaining the structure and function of northern boreal forests.
Join us this Wednesday, January 9, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Anderson 223 to learn more about the nature and ecology of this dynamic system, and check out the rest of the seminar schedule for the Winter Quarter!
The seminars are open to all faculty, staff and students. Each week, a reception will follow in the Forest Room from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Photo of charred log and regrowth in Sweden © Tom DeLuca.