Steve is interested in obtaining a better understanding of 1) biogeochemical connectivity between ecosystems and 2) spatiotemporal settings that influence the magnitude of this connectivity.
His current research is focused on whether belowground organic C (OC) and nitrogen (N) pools in riparian systems are linked with fresh OC allocated to the soil via root exudation. This relatively unexplored connection in riparian forests is of interest for a number of reasons including the recognition of riparian areas as hotspots of biogeochemical activity and for the potential for findings from this work to help refine conceptual cross-system biogeochemical models.
Steve’s field sites are located in riparian forests situated along Big Darby Creek (a National Scenic River that is well known for its biodiversity) in central Ohio that are managed by Columbus Metro Parks. He is also exploring root exudation under more controlled greenhouse conditions using American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and silver maple (Acer saccharinum) seedlings which are some of the dominant tree species at the field sites.
Ultimately by focusing on belowground riparian systems Steve aims to gain a better understanding of processes that influence the overall cycling of OC and N in the environment.