Ongoing Projects

Oriented by three research thrusts we work in partnership with communities, industries, NGOs, local governments, and federal agencies to coordinate research on climate mitigation and adaptation. Examples of our recent collaborative work include:

1. Enhanced Natural Climate Solutions (NCS+) using case studies from the Pacific Northwest of the USA as a model temperate system (Research funded by NSF, USDA, and industry partners):

Landscape opportunity mapping for increased carbon drawdown and permanence using ecological and geological datasets.

A rocky outcrop against a soft blue sky
Using geomorphic landforms to map and forecast soil organic carbon in montane landscapes. Preliminary data presented by PhD candidate Brooke Hunter at AGU 2021 show large potential for carbon accumulation using terrace age power law relationship for an inventory of ~10,000 dated landslide chronosequences in the Oregon Coast Range

Field experimentation for the artificial selection of plant and microbial communities that accelerate carbon stabilization in agricultural soils.

A photo of a field at sunrise with distant hills. The field has been plowed with furrows of bare soil every ten feet.
Designing novel plant and microbial communities using stable isotope probing and artificial selection under field conditions. Preliminary data presented by PhD student Hillary Rose Dawson at Botany 2021 show scaling functions for morphological and functional species traits that control carbon, nitrogen, and water transfer in root-mycorrhizal networks ( and in paired experiments across a 520-km latitudinal gradient in WA and OR. This research involves co-production of knowledge with local stakeholders to explore the effects of plant community composition on carbon markets

Quantification of wildfire effects on ecosystem carbon stocks and the potential for prescribed fire in stabilizing soil carbon pools.

Three young women take a soil core in a grassland next to a burned out forest with small mountains in the background.
Quantifying soil carbon dynamics after low-intensity (prescribed) and catastrophic wildfires in OR and CA.Preliminary data presented by PhD candidate Jamie Wright at AGU 2021 show a surprising trend of carbon accumulation in areas affected by fire compared to controls

2. Enhanced Natural Climate Solutions (NCS+) using case studies from central Brazil as a model tropical system (Research funded by NSF, National Geographic, and industry partners):

Regional opportunity mapping using social, ecological, and geological datasets to inform policies and align incentives for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration.

Field experimentation using waste materials to reset natural succession and increase carbon stabilization in severely degraded landscapes.

Quantification of management effects on soil carbon and nutrients and the potential for indigenous land management in improving carbon stocks while sustaining livelihoods in nutrient-poor regions.

A New Hypothesis for the Origin of Amazonian Dark Earths

Active Research Grants

National Science Foundation:  Geomorphic controls on soil organic carbon in fire-prone erosional landscapes.

National Science Foundation: Convergence Accelerator: Landscape Carbon Sequestration for Atmospheric Recovery.

National Science Foundation: Harnessing biological complexity to improve food security in the Pacific Northwest.

USDA Natural Resources and Environment:  Ecological intensification for a productive oak-hazelnut savannah landscape in Oregon.

National Geographic The climate paradox: mapping resilience and vulnerability of montane forests across the Pacific Northwest

Eugene Water & Electric Board Landscape Prioritization for Carbon Drawdown: An integrated strategy for forest and water governance 

Center for Environmental Futures Soundscapes of Socioecological Succession: An Interdisciplinary Record of Resilience to Wildfire

Completed grants

National Science Foundation: Delineating Holocene climate-biosphere links from climate and vegetation reconstructions from the Amazon region.

Save-the-Redwoods League: Understanding the influence of an apex predator on the forest carbon cycle

Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) USDA-NIFA: Agricultural sensitivity to climate change and water resources interactions in the San Joaquin Valley California and system resilience offered by adaptation strategies

American Carbon Registry: Restoration of California Deltaic and Coastal Wetlands for Climate Change Mitigation

California Department of Food and Agriculture: Isotopic records of evapotranspiration, water balance, and depth of water uptake in California’s tree crops

University of California Innovative Development: Retracing drought impacts in California: A new approach to measure changes in food quality and productivity as caused by fluctuations in rainfall

UC MEXUS-CONACYT: Effects of soil-plant feedbacks on the response of forest ecosystems to climate variability and nitrogen deposition

Chinese Academy of Science: Climate-driven vegetation dynamics across altitudinal gradients in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China

Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development: Ecological implications of large scale restoration of degraded land in the Cerrado-Amazon transition

Media Highlights

Public Radio Interview

Excellence in Research Award 2018

CO2’s boost to trees may not offset its climate impact

Solving interdisciplinary puzzles at the SPA Lab  

Climate change impact on forest carbon and water

Looking at climate stress on West Coast rangelands

Restoration of California Deltaic and Coastal Wetlands

UO researcher finds surprise growth in Tibetan forest 

Soil carbon – key to protecting biodiversity and climate

Winery wastewater a viable water source for vineyards 

Plants use nitrogen from the atmosphere in unexpected ways