Hi, you’ve reached the homepage of the Bradford lab group at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Our research explores two main questions:
- How do plants and soil organisms respond to environmental change?
- How do these responses affect ecosystem function, especially the movement and storage of carbon in soils?
Why focus on carbon and ecosystems? Soils and plants store huge quantities of carbon. Disturbances that degrade ecosystems release this into the atmosphere – in forms such as carbon dioxide – contributing to our changing climate. But soils and ecosystems are much more than reservoirs for carbon – their health is directly tied to water purification, flood prevention, maintenance of biodiversity, and agricultural production. Understanding how and why plants, animals, microbes and soils respond to environmental change will therefore help us understand the consequences for human well-being, and how we might manage them.
We use experimental and observational approaches to investigate these effects of global change, both in the field and laboratory. We primarily work across forests and grasslands in the north and south of the eastern United States.
The overall goal of our research is to provide the necessary mechanistic understanding required for reliable prediction of global change impacts on ecosystems, and their likely feedbacks to the climate system.
LAB NEWS-FEB. All the recent news seems to relate to the British Ecological Society (or BES). Tom Crowther – a Yale Climate & Energy Institute postdoctoral fellow – is just starting the work the BES funded under the competitive Early Career Research Grants. Ashley Keiser, a doctoral student in the lab, just had the introductory chapter to her dissertation accepted by the BES’s Journal of Ecology, where she proposes a mathematical method to formally test for if and how microbial communities adapt functionally to their environment. And Robert Warren, a former postdoc in the lab, just had a paper out in the same journal showing that competition (a negative interaction) structures mutualisms (a positive interaction), questioning the dichotomous characterization of these interactions in ecology.