Listen to podcast
Speaker: Dr Kendra McLauchlan, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Kansas State University
Human activities have doubled the pre-industrial supply of reactive nitrogen on Earth, and future rates of increase are expected to accelerate. The long-term response of the terrestrial biosphere to this potential fertilization is largely unknown.
Here, Dr McLauchlan presents several palaeoecological records from lacustrine sediment cores and tree cores to begin to establish a baseline for 20th century changes in nitrogen cycling. The spatial scales of these records range from local (watershed-level) to global. There is little evidence indicating widespread eutrophication in the past 500 years despite increasing anthropogenic supplies of reactive nitrogen. Non-anthropogenic drivers of nitrogen cycling, especially the carbon status of terrestrial ecosystems, are likely to be essential for understanding which ecosystems are vulnerable to future anthropogenic changes.
Kendra McLauchlan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Kansas State University. She directs the Paleoenvironmental Research Lab at Kansas State University and also leads the Novus Research Coordination Network to merge paleo- and neo-ecosystem ecology. Dr McLauchlan’s research interests focus on paleoecosystem ecology, particularly reconstructing terrestrial nutrient cycling and assessing the role of vegetation in determining resilience to past global changes. She and members of her research group work on ecological questions at timescales ranging from the late glacial (15,000 years ago) to modern times.