David Nelson’s group conducts research on the ecological consequences of global environmental change. The lab applies an interdisciplinary approach that integrates stable isotope data, field observations, and lab analyses to investigate environmental problems in modern, as well as geologic, contexts. The lab has lead a number of studies that use isotope data to investigate the roles of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, climate, and fire on the  origin and shifting abundance of C4 grasses in Earth’s history. In recent years, the lab along with collaborators, has used stable isotope and genetic data to study the movement of bats and birds in the context of emerging threats that cause widespread mortality, such as wind-energy development. Recent work has also used the triple oxygen isotope composition of nitrate as a tracer of atmospheric processes and atmospheric nitrate export from watersheds in the context of land-use change. We’re always on the lookout for potential graduate students and postdocs.

Stable isotopes are integrators of biotic and abiotic processes and are useful for answering a range of questions in ecology and biogeochemistry. Our stable isotope analyses are conducted at the Central Appalachians Stable Isotope Facility (CASIF), which is housed at the Appalachian Lab. CASIF provides isotopic analyses for a variety of projects in multiple disciplines conducted by researchers in the region and throughout the world.