Symbiotic nitrogen fixation and the tropical carbon sink

Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests seminar followed by drinks – all welcome

One of the greatest challenges facing us today is to understand the carbon sink in tropical forests. The ability of tropical forests to overcome nitrogen limitation and sequester carbon may be facilitated by symbiotic nitrogen fixation, yet the factors that govern the biodiversity and function of nitrogen-fixing trees remain unclear. In this talk, Dr Sarah Batterman will examine recent findings that nitrogen fixers offer a carbon-nitrogen feedback mechanism that enhances forest carbon uptake during periods of rapid carbon accumulation. She will then discuss the governing roles of nitrogen and phosphorus for nitrogen fixation rates and nitrogen fixer abundances and biodiversity across tropical forests. Finally, she will provide evidence for a new hypothesis that tropical fixers face a major constraint by herbivory. These findings inform our understanding of the present and future ability of symbiotic nitrogen fixers to support a carbon sink in tropical forests and thereby mitigate climate change.

Sarah Batterman holds a Natural Environment Research Council Independent Research Fellowship and is a University Academic Fellow in the School of Geography at University of Leeds. She completed her PhD and postdoctoral research fellowship with Lars Hedin and Steve Pacala at Princeton University from 2007-2015, and her BA at Grinnell College in 2006.