Earth & Planetary Sciences Dept
Johns Hopkins University
Environmental Science & Technology Dept
University of Maryland, College Park
I am a soil ecologist and earthworm taxonomist broadly interested in community ecology, ecosystem ecology, molecular ecology, phylogenetics, and biodiversity. Most of my research focuses on soil invertebrates, their interactions, and their impacts on micro-organisms and ecosystem function in forest, agriculture, and urban ecosystems.
Soil is the final frontier. We know more about the outer space and the deep ocean than the soil, while soil provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that our lives depend on, food, water filtration, just name a few. Inhabited by one-fourth of all know species, soil is the poor man’s tropical rain forest. A handful of soil can contain hundreds of species of microscopic invertebrates - mites, nematodes, and springtails. Some larger soil animals, such as earthworms, are considered ecosystem engineers, and are frequently the dominant biomass in many tropical and temperate ecosystems. The complex interactions among soil fauna, plant roots, and micro-organisms determine the fate of soil carbon and the availability of nutrients. These effects propagate in both the aboveground and belowground ecosystems, and eventually affect the ecosystem services provided.