Michelle Y. Wong
I'm a terrestrial biogeochemist and an ecosystem ecologist.
I use experimental field and lab-based methods to study how plants and microbes interact with nutrients to shape ecosystems. Utilizing observational and modeling-based approaches, I evaluate how nutrients affect ecosystem processes, such as nitrogen fixation and denitrification. I study how nutrients cycle in the environment and evaluate how anthropogenic activity has altered nutrient cycling.
How do plants get the nutrients they need?
Tropical forests are often situated on highly weathered, nutrient-depleted soils, but are often some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Across secondary forests of Panama in Agua Salud and in collaboration with scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, we are investigating how plants overcome nutrient limitation through the use of nutrient acquisition strategies such as root phosphatases and symbioses with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing symbionts.
Temperate forests are historically nitrogen-limited but nitrogen deposition may have shifted forest towards phosphorus limitation. Do some functional groups (based on their mycorrhizal associations and nitrogen-fixing status) differ in their ability to acquire phosphorus? We are utilizing two greenhouse experiments combined with fieldwork in upstate New York at the Cary Institute to investigate phosphorus acquisition strategies of several common temperate tree species.