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Dr. Sarah Batterman

Tropical Forest Ecologist | PhD, Princeton University

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

Other affiliations: Associate Professor, School of Geography, 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.

Biro, A, MY Wong, Y Zhou, Sarah A. Batterman, and AC Staver. (2024 MAR 5AD) 2024. “Nitrogen And Phosphorus Availability Alters Tree-Grass Competition Intensity In Savannas”. Journal Of Ecology. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.14284.
Cusack, DF, B Christoffersen, CM Smith-Martin, KM Andersen, AL Cordeiro, K Fleischer, SJ Wright, et al. (APR) 2024. “Toward A Coordinated Understanding Of Hydro-Biogeochemical Root Functions In Tropical Forests For Application In Vegetation Models”. New Phytologist 242 (2): 351-371, . doi:10.1111/nph.19561.
Dobson, Andy, Matthew C. Hutchinson, and Sarah A. Batterman. 2023. “Plant Communities And Food Webs”. Frontiers In Ecology And Evolution 11. Frontiers Media SA. doi:10.3389/fevo.2023.1253084.
Zhou, Yong, Arielle Biro, Michelle Y. Wong, Sarah A. Batterman, and Carla Staver. 2022. “Fire Decreases Soil Enzyme Activities And Reorganizes Microbially Mediated Nutrient Cycles: A Meta‐Analysis”. Ecology 103 (11). Wiley. doi:10.1002/ecy.3807.
Gurung, Khushboo, Katie J. Field, Sarah A. Batterman, Yves Goddéris, Yannick Donnadieu, Philipp Porada, Lyla L. Taylor, and Benjamin J. W. Mills. 2022. “Climate Windows Of Opportunity For Plant Expansion During The Phanerozoic”. Nature Communications 13 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-32077-7.
Cleveland, Cory C., Carla R. G. Reis, Steven S. Perakis, Katherine A. Dynarski, Sarah A. Batterman, Timothy E. Crews, Maga Gei, et al. 2022. “Exploring The Role Of Cryptic Nitrogen Fixers In Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Frontier In Nitrogen Cycling Research”. Ecosystems. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1007/s10021-022-00804-2.
Epihov, Dimitar Z., Kristin Saltonstall, Sarah A. Batterman, Lars O. Hedin, Jefferson S. Hall, Michiel van Breugel, Jonathan R. Leake, and David J. Beerling. 2021. “Legume–Microbiome Interactions Unlock Mineral Nutrients In Regrowing Tropical Forests”. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences 118 (11). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: e2022241118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2022241118.
Freschet, GT, L Pages, CM Iversen, LH Comas, B Rewald, C Roumet, J Klimesova, et al. (NOV) 2021. “A Starting Guide To Root Ecology: Strengthening Ecological Concepts And Standardising Root Classification, Sampling, Processing And Trait Measurements”. New Phytologist 232 (3): 973-1122, . doi:10.1111/nph.17572.
Cusack, DF, SD Addo-Danso, EA Agee, KM Andersen, M Arnaud, Sarah A. Batterman, FQ Brearley, et al. (DEC 2) 2021. “Tradeoffs And Synergies In Tropical Forest Root Traits And Dynamics For Nutrient And Water Acquisition: Field And Modeling Advances”. Frontiers In Forests And Global Change 4. doi:10.3389/ffgc.2021.704469.
Kalamandeen, M., E. Gloor, I. Johnson, S. Agard, M. Katow, A. Vanbrooke, D. Ashley, et al. 2020. “Limited Biomass Recovery From Gold Mining In Amazonian Forests”. Journal Of Applied Ecology.
Sullivan, M. J. P., S. L. Lewis, K. Affum-Baffoe, C. Castilho, F. Costa, A. C. Sanchez, C. E. N. Ewango, et al. (May) 2020. “Long-Term Thermal Sensitivity Of Earth's Tropical Forests”. Science 368 (6493): 869-++.
Stanton, Daniel E., Sarah A. Batterman, Joseph C. Von Fischer, and Lars O. Hedin. 2019. “Rapid Nitrogen Fixation By Canopy Microbiome In Tropical Forest Determined By Both Phosphorus And Molybdenum”. Ecology 100 (9). Wiley. doi:10.1002/ecy.2795.
Levy-Varon, Jennifer H., Sarah A. Batterman, David Medvigy, Xiangtao Xu, Jefferson S. Hall, Michiel van Breugel, and Lars O. Hedin. 2019. “Tropical Carbon Sink Accelerated By Symbiotic Dinitrogen Fixation”. Nature Communications 10 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13656-7.
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.
Batterman, Sarah A., Jefferson S. Hall, Benjamin Turner, Lars O. Hedin, Kimiko LaHaela, Pete Sheldon, and Michiel van Breugel. 2018. “Phosphatase Activity And Nitrogen Fixation Reflect Species Differences, Not Nutrient Trading Or Nutrient Balance, Across Tropical Rainforest Trees”. Lingli Liu. Ecology Letters 21 (10). Wiley: 1486-1495. doi:10.1111/ele.13129.
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.