The biogeochemical consequences of woody encroachment in Sierra Nevada meadows.

Sullivan and citizen scientists taking measurements

This research has the potential to make transformational improvements in our understanding of Sierra Nevada biogeochemistry while also connecting citizens to regional meadows and forests that supply water, forest products, and cattle. Improving our understanding of the amount of carbon contained in different ecosystem pools, and the rates of greenhouse gas emissions from the soil, will assist in future management and restoration of meadows. Furthermore, the controls over soil processes like carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas fluxes are poorly resolved in these ecosystems.

These woody plant- meadow transitions provide a unique opportunity to explore substantial changes in the mechanisms that we expect control carbon dynamics above and below ground over a very narrow geographic distance. Given the dramatic changes in vegetation structure within close proximity of each other, we expect we will be able to identify relationships between ecosystem carbon pools and fluxes and driving variables beyond that currently possible in ongoing meadow sampling.

Finally, this research will provide not only volunteers, but local stakeholders and concerned citizens with valuable information about the functioning and ecosystem services of meadows and meadow restoration