Wong, Michelle: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Project Title: 
The role of nitrogen fixation in Amazon forest fire recovery
Project Abstract: 
The tropical forests of the Amazon Basin represent a significant fraction of the global carbon balance. They hold about 120 ± 30 Pg of C in biomass and account for about half the world’s tropical forest area. However, the southeastern Amazon is subject to deforestation and climate change, and high-intensity fires could accelerate forest degradation. The ability of forests to recover and contribute to the land-carbon sink may be constrained by nitrogen, a major limiting nutrient for plants. Tropical forests contain trees that are capable of fixing atmospheric dinitrogen through a process called nitrogen fixation, but it is unclear whether fires may suppress the ability of these trees to acquire nitrogen for regrowth. Due to inaccessibility and methodological challenges, nitrogen fixation is especially poorly measured in the Amazon, and to our knowledge, no nitrogen fixation has been measured after a tropical forest fire. I propose to study recovery of a tropical forest in southeastern Amazon by measuring the forest demand for nitrogen and rates of nitrogen fixation.