Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

 From a human perspective, the cold dark environment of Arctic soils appears like an extreme habitat for life.  However, Arctic soils are inhabited by a very diverse group of microorganisms that appear well adapted to their environment.  In fact, these microbes remain active below freezing, where they continue to decompose the remnants of plant material that is produced during the short growing season.  Our research examines the diversity of life in these soils, to understand WHO they are, WHAT they are doing, and HOW they deal with life in the cold and dark. 

All of our Arctic research is in the context of the rapidly changing Arctic environment, and addresses community and ecosystem responses to these changes.  This work is of particular importance because soils underlain by permafrost contain more carbon than is contained within the atmosphere and in plants.  Thus, it is critical that we understand the factors that control the vulnerability of this large carbon pool to climate change.  We are pursuing these questions with support from the DOE Terrestrial Ecosystems program and an NSF CAREER award.



Matthew David Wallenstein, PhD
Natural Resource Ecology Lab, B258
Colorado State University
1499 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins CO, 80523-1499
(970) 491 - 1623