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:

  1. How do plants and soil organisms respond to environmental change?
  2. How do these responses affect ecosystem function, especially the movement and storage of carbon in soils?

The Wordle compiles the most common words from the titles of papers we’ve published since the lab established (in 2005, then at the University of Georgia, Athens). It gives a good flavor of the topics we primarily focus on under Questions 1 & 2. Below the Wordle there’s a more detailed description of why we do what we do, and how we do it.

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-NOV. Congratulations to Ashley (lab alum) and Dave on the birth of their second child (Autumn). And we’re looking forward to Emily starting back from maternity leave this month. She returns at a time when the lab is really gearing up work closely matched with her interests, on elucidating and setting targets for soil organic matter amounts to build and sustain healthy soils. Great discussions last month with The Nature Conservancy through Steve’s postdoc position and stay tuned for an editorial by a bunch of us on this topic expected next month. Also, really pleased to have a Future Directions piece just out online with Journal of Ecology, establishing a framework to understand broad-scale controls on soil processes by focusing on local-scale factors (if that seems contradictory, check out the paper via the publications page!). More @bradfordlab.