seeing the forest for the trees
Welcome to the Zanne Lab!
Our research focuses on ecological, evolutionary, and biogeographic determinants of species distributions. We do this by measuring physiological, morphological, and anatomical functional traits across many species. We are located in the Department of Biological Sciences at George Washington University.

Summer 2014 This spring the lab was busy working on papers and grants, prepping microcosm experiments, writing pipelines, measuring wood chemistry, monitoring fungal fruiting body production in the field while we got ready for the summer field season. In addition some of the lab’s past work has recieved public recognition, like in the minute earth video below. Lots of good news to share. Amy M passed her proposal defense, Mariya received the NSF GRFP and Brad was lead on a lab group paper on wood hardness. Congratulations to all! So far this summer, we have visited field sites in MO, MD, and WI with further sites in NSW, QLD, and NT, Australia to follow. We completed the major harvests of the Tyson rot plot experiments and added in new experiments with Tom Crowther and Kris Covey from Yale. Lots of rot happened in 5 years! Go fungi, insects, and whatever likes to take big bites out of logs. While in St. Louis, we got to see old lab friends such as Kevin and Maranda and meet up with Oyomoare.
Jordan won 1st prize in the Microbiology section in the Senior Division at the DC STEM fair for her project “Species Differences in Leaf Decomposition and Microbial Communities”. Below is a video that Jordan made about her project. Jordan will start her freshman year at the University of Virginia this fall.


Mariya finished analyzing the first round of microbial community data and is working on writing up the results before starting grad school at UMBC this fall.

Amy M got to catch up with old friends and re-visit the North Woods in Wisconsin, and completed the fourth year harvest of an experiment looking at the effects of forest management on wood decomposition rates and fungal diversity. Surveys of fruiting fungi at SERC are on-going, and she is looking forward to an exciting fall of microcosms and teaching scientific writing skills to students enrolled in Introductory Microbiology! 

Brad lead a lab paper on changes in wood hardness during decay that came out earlier this year in Forest Ecology and Management.  Papers on vessel length and mycorrhizal associations are in the pipeline.  Besides making sure his publication list is as eclectic as possible, Brad is looking forward to teaching Intro BIO at GWU this fall, and developing new projects and collaborations.

Oyomoare published the first chapter of her dissertation in the May 2014 issue of American Journal of Botany! She looks forward to sharing interesting results from her fourth chapter in ESA 2014, Sacramento, which show that turnover rates in stem number and species composition are increasing in forests in Kibale National Park, Uganda, regardless of logging history. She also plans to have an exciting fall teaching General Biology lab at UMSL and analyzing the anatomical trait dataset she has collected on 20 Panama tree species to investigate how variation in anatomical traits influence species growth, mortality, and decomposition rates.

Darcy spent much of the spring analyzing and writing about connections between wood chemistry and microbial enzyme activity levels in samples from the 2012 harvest of the Tyson Research Center rot plot experiment. She is currently working at  Tyson Research Center to wrap up several decay experiments, but she is looking forward to returning to GWU in July with a new crop of samples in hand.

Amy Z attended working groups at NESCent on “Coevolution of Plants and Fire and Consequences for the Earth Systems” led by Sally Archibald and Caroline Lehmann, SESYNC on “Macroevolution of Ecosystem Services from Trees” led by Jeannine Cavender-Bares and Steve Polasky and the Daintree Rainforest Observatory on Drought in Tropical forests led by Lucas Cernusak and Alex Cheesman. She also visited Dave Tank at University of Idaho and gave a departmental seminar in Biological Sciences. She helped out with the 5th year rot plot harvest at Tyson with Brad, Darcy and Javi Hernandez and scoped out new field sites near Sydney, Darwin and Cairns in Australia with Will Cornwell to look at deadwood C loss in Australia. She attended the Annual Evolution meetings in Raleigh, NC and will soon be attending the Annual Ecological Society of America meeting in Sacramento, CA, where she will co lead a symposium on “Whether in Life or in Death: Fresh Perspectives on How Plants Affect Biogeochemical Cycling” with Amy Austin. She is looking forward to teaching Field Biology this fall. Amy’s paper on Three keys to the radiation of angiosperms into freezing environments was featured on MinuteEarth.

We will miss Jordan and Mariya when they leave us for undergraduate and graduate school this fall but are excited to track their progress from afar. Good luck! We look forward to Luke McCormack, Simon Uribe-Convers, and Nathan English spending time with the lab over the next few months. Welcome!

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