The end of another successful year!

The end of another successful year! May 2014

IMG_6652Lab Holiday Party, 2012

 Lunch break views after morning field work, Coweeta LTER

Soil samples taken in Central Park (NYC) July 2012, as part of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, in collaboration with Diana Wall and Noah Fierer

Typical view of a soil ecologist, when they stop to look up

Japanese stilt grass exploiting edge habitat as it invades the eastern U.S., forming “carpets” across the forestsBug’s eye view of a research plotA view across Coweeta basin in the southern Appalachian mountains, North Carolina, where we do much of our research as part of the NSF Long Term Ecological Research ProgramTara placing resin bags out in the field, to assess how invasive plants alter nitrogen cycling and hence soil fertility

Hemlock die-off in Coweeta

Japanese stilt grass – the most pervasive plant invader in forest understories across the eastern U.S. – growing above the ground in a downed tree

The most common termite in the eastern U.S. – Reticulitermes flavipes – inside a branch, broken open with a hatchet. These animals play an important role in forest nutrient cycling but are perhaps best known for the billion dollar damage they cause each year to homes and other structures

The common woodland ant – Aphaenogaster – ubiquitous across eastern U.S. forests and critical to forest diversity in its role dispersing seeds of woodland herbs, including many of the wildflowers

One of the wildflowers – a Trillium – dispersed by Aphaenogaster ants

An artificial ant nest being placed at Yale-Myers Forest in Connecticut, to help understand Aphaenogaster ant-nesting requirements and so potential habitat for wildflowers dispersed by this species

Rotting heartwood in the trunk of a recently-felled tree: decay that we rarely see but that could be important in our understanding of the carbon cycle and climate