claire qubain

snowpack controls on nitrogen availability and uptake in conifer forests 

Snowpack is an important driver of nitrogen availability in western conifer forests.  Snow promotes nitrogen fixation in soils throughout the winter months and provides soil moisture during the growing season.  Mountain snowpack has decreased in the Rocky Mountains since the 1950s. Additionally, the snowpack is beginning to melt earlier in the season.  The effects of decreased snowpack and earlier snowmelt on nitrogen availability in soils is unclear.

Claire Qubain, a graduate student at Montana State University, along with Drs. Jia Hu and Yuriko Yano, are exploring how complex topography, snowpack, and soil moisture control nitrogen availability in soil and tree nitrogen uptake throughout a growing season.  A better understanding of controls on nitrogen availability and nitrogen uptake in western conifer forests will become increasingly important as snowpack decreases and climate continues to change.