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Dr. Sarah Batterman

Tropical Forest Ecologist | PhD, Princeton University

Expertise: terrestrial carbon sink, tropical ecosystems, biodiversity, land use change, climate change, symbiotic nitrogen fixation

Other affiliations: Associate Professor and Natural Environment Research Council Independent Research Fellow, School of Geography and Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds, Leeds, U.K.

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One of the greatest challenges facing ecologists today is to understand how terrestrial ecosystems will offset human carbon emissions and slow climate change. Sarah Batterman's research aims to solve this problem.

Batterman uses large-scale ecosystem experiments, field observations and modeling to analyze how the biodiversity of tropical tree species, their microbial partners and nutrients govern tropical rainforest recovery from disturbance, response to environmental change and future potential as a carbon sink. She is also turning to the past to understand how the evolution of plant symbioses with fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria changed the climate over earth's long-term history.

Batterman discovered that symbiotic nitrogen fixation holds a key role during tropical rainforest recovery from disturbance, fertilizing the forests with nitrogen, enhancing tropical rainforest growth, and, ultimately, increasing the size of the carbon sink in recovering forests.

This work will inform policy makers, practitioners and the general public about the potential for carbon offsets in tropical regions, and how to build better forests to combat climate change.

Batterman, Sarah A. 2018. “Fixing Tropical Forests”. Nature Ecology And Evolution 2: 1059-1060. doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0583-6.
Lai, Hao Ran, Jefferson S. Hall, Sarah A. Batterman, Benjamin L. Turner, and Michiel van Breugel. 2018. “Nitrogen Fixer Abundance Has No Effect On Biomass Recovery During Tropical Secondary Forest Succession”. Journal Of Ecology 106 (4): 1415-1427. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12979.
Mills, Benjamin J. W., Sarah A. Batterman, and Katie J. Field. 2018. “Nutrient Acquisition By Symbiotic Fungi Governs Palaeozoic Climate Transition”. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373 (1739). doi:10.1098/rstb.2016.0503.
Menge, Duncan N. L., Sarah A. Batterman, Wenying Liao, Benton N. Taylor, Jeremy W. Lichstein, and Gregorio Ángeles-Pérez. 2017. “Nitrogen-Fixing Tree Abundance In Higher-Latitude North America Is Not Constrained By Diversity”. Ecology Letters 20 (7): 842 - 851. doi:10.1111/ele.12778.
Epihov, Dimitar Z., Sarah A. Batterman, Lars O. Hedin, Jonathan R. Leake, Lisa M. Smith, and David J. Beerling. 2017. “N2-Fixing Tropical Legume Evolution: A Contributor To Enhanced Weathering Through The Cenozoic?”. Proceedings Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284 (1860). doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0370.
Menge, Duncan N. L., Sarah A. Batterman, Lars O. Hedin, Wenying Liao, Stephen W. Pacala, and Benton N. Taylor. 2017. “Why Are Nitrogen-Fixing Trees Rare At Higher Compared To Lower Latitudes?”. Ecology 98 (12): 3127 - 3140. doi:10.1002/ecy.2034.
Sheffer, Efrat, Sarah A. Batterman, Simon A. Levin, and Lars O. Hedin. 2015. “Biome-Scale Nitrogen Fixation Strategies Selected By Climatic Constraints On Nitrogen Cycle”. Nature Plants. doi:10.1038/nplants.2015.182.
Batterman, Sarah A., Lars O. Hedin, Michiel van Breugel, Johannes Ransijn, Dylan J. Craven, and Jefferson S. Hall. 2013. “Key Role Of Symbiotic Dinitrogen Fixation In Tropical Forest Secondary Succession”. Nature 502: 224 - 227. doi:10.1038/nature12525.
Batterman, Sarah A., Nina Wurzburger, and Lars O. Hedin. 2013. “Nitrogen And Phosphorus Interact To Control Tropical Symbiotic N2 Fixation: A Test In Inga Punctata. Journal Of Ecology 101 (6): 1400 - 1408. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12138.
Batterman, Sarah A., and Klaus Steenberg Larsen. 2011. “Integrating Empirical Studies And Global Models To Improve Climate Change Predictions”. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 92 (41): 353 - 353. doi:10.1029/2011EO410011.