Mary Linabury

Sustainability Leadership Fellow Cohort: 2022-2023

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology

Research Summary: I study how humans impact grasslands. With the rise of industrial agriculture, nitrogen fertilization has altered ecosystems across the world. In addition, climate change threatens these systems with unpredictable weather patterns from droughts to floods. My research uses a “pulse-press” framework to understand how nitrogen fertilization and climate change interact to alter grassland plant communities. Under this framework, “presses” occur continuously over time (nitrogen fertilization), while “pulses” are discrete (large rainfall events). Continuous nitrogen fertilization combined with a large rainstorm may result in critical thresholds being crossed, causing dramatic plant community change followed by shifts in grassland dynamics and function.

Advisor: Melinda D. Smith