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New Postdoc Joins the Mack Lab

Rebecca Hewitt recently finished her PhD with Drs. Terry Chapin and Teresa Hollingsworth at University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her dissertation investigated whether plant-fungal interactions after wildfire influenced seedling establishment at and beyond current treeline. She explored the effects of post-fire mycorrhizal community structure on the physiological performance of treeline seedlings and collaborated with the Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning to investigate the landscape implications of her plot-level studies by implementing a mycorrhizal-submodel in simulations of tree migration using the fire-vegetation-climate model ALFRESCO. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Mack Lab at Northern Arizona University she will investigate the belowground plant traits and plant-fungal interactions that confer access to nitrogen released from thawed permafrost.

Mack Lab Welcomes a Visitor

Mélanie Jean is currently visiting the Mack Lab to process moss samples for isotope analysis that she collected near Fairbanks, Alaska. Mélanie is a Ph.D. student in Jill Johnstone’s Northern Plant Ecology Lab at the University of Saskatchewan. She is studying the functional role of mosses in driving successional dynamics of boreal forests.


Mélanie Jean sampling mosses at her study site in  Murphy Dome, Alaska.
Mélanie Jean sampling mosses at her study site in Murphy Dome, Alaska.

Field Season 2014

Field Season 2014 has come to an end. It was a busy but successful summer in Alaska for the Mack Lab.

In our stands of black spruce and Alaska paper birch, we continued to monitor soil temperature, leaf litter inputs, soil N and P pools, and rates of litter decomposition.

Litter trap in a birch stand at Murphy Dome
Litter trap and moss transplant in a birch stand at Murphy Dome


We sampled forested areas that have been thinned to provide a shaded fuel break in the event of a wildfire. This information will be used with data collected in 2012 to quantify the impacts of forest management on carbon cycling, permafrost thaw, and plant succession post-management.

April sampling soils at a managed site
April sampling soils at a managed site


We installed soil temperature sensors in the soil profile to a depth of 1.5 m in areas recently burned and adjacent controls to quantify changes in permafrost following wildfire.

Camilo and April installing a temperature probe
Camilo and April installing a temperature probe


Simon McClung also harvested 10 year old tree seedlings from several sites in Interior Alaska to measure biomass and nutrient allocation.


Congratulations, Camila!

Camila Pizano, a postdoctoral associate in the Mack Lab, recently accepted a position as adjunct researcher in charge of the scientific component of a national project on tropical dry forest at the Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt in Bogota, Colombia. Congratulations, Camila!