Our research program strives to increase our understanding of the processes of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, and how human-induced disturbance influences these processes. The perturbation of these cycles is a good indicator of ecosystem “condition,” and has enormous consequences to humans.

Changes in the C cycle, particularly those that release C to the atmosphere, will contribute to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rates of climatic change. Nitrogen deposition may enhance plant growth rates, but excess N can lead to reduced soil and water quality and increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as N2O.

The key research questions are –

  1. How does climate change and permafrost thawing influence the carbon balance of High Arctic ecosystems?
  2. What are the critical feedbacks between the High Arctic carbon cycle and the climate system?
  3. How do land-use legacies influence contemporary forest ecosystem structure and function?
  4. Can microbial inoculants influence the negative environmental impacts of nitrogen fertilizer used in agricultural systems?
  5. What impact does the establishment of “Little Forests” have on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling in urban environments?

Dr. Scott is also interested in the impact of invasive plant species on plant/soil interactions and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, and the impact of soybean production on N-fixation and soil carbon cycling. His research approach includes field studies, development and testing of process-based terrestrial C and N cycling models, and the use of remote sensing and GIS to extrapolate research results in space and time. When possible, I try to use my research results to help address key environmental policy issues.

Current Funded Projects

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