Professor Bird’s biogeochemistry research group is focused on belowground C, N and S cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Soils are critical controllers on the flow of matter and energy in the environment and are considered especially important in the Earth's response to Global Change. Soils act as both a significant source of atmospheric greenhouse gases (i.e., carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and as a sizable stable sink for plant C and N inputs. Bird’s research group investigates how soil microbial communities, plants, climate and mineralogy interact to control the turnover, loss or stabilization of soil C and N in temperate and tropical ecosystems. The Bird lab uses stable isotopic tracers (13C and 15N) to follow C and N among plants, soil microbes, and mineral surfaces to better understand how soils support ecological productivity and environmental quality.
The Bird terrestrial biogeochemistry research group is involved in several field and laboratory research projects that focus on the biological, chemical and physical controls on C and N cycling in temperate and tropical ecosystems.
· Pyrogenic organic matter (black carbon) decomposition and transport dynamics in temperate ecosystems
· The effect of N deposition on soil C turnover
· How plant roots interact with soil C cycling and affect soil microbial activity
· The role of microbial community structure on soil C dynamics
· The contribution of above versus belowground plant C input on soil C dynamics
· The stabilization mechanisms of soil C and N (physical and chemical)