Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Integrative Life Sciences

First Advisor

Christopher Gough


Among the most essential questions in the era of climate change is how the forest carbon (C) cycle will respond to an increase in the extent of biotic disturbances from insects and pathogens. While research has focused on stand-replacing disturbance regimes, less is known about C cycling stability following partial disturbances that produce gradients of disturbance severity. Belowground C cycling responses to disturbance are especially poorly understood, even though temperate forest soils contain up to 50% of total ecosystem C and soil respiration (Rs) accounts for more than half of temperate forest C loss. Interpreting trends and mechanisms of C cycling disturbance response requires the integration of cross-scaled experiments and refined ecological theory. The overarching goal of my dissertation is to lay a foundation for the use of a multi-dimensional stability framework for the C cycling community, and through manipulative ecosystem experiments, assess patterns and advance mechanistic understanding of how partial disturbances impact forest C cycling. Synthesizing across chapters, I highlight three overarching conclusions from my dissertation. First, leveraging components of a multi-dimensional stability framework into assessments of C flux disturbance response revealed the utility of applying such a framework to analyses of ecosystem function. Second, Rs can exhibit variable responses to the same partial disturbance. Third, temperate forests can sustain C balance following disturbances across a gradient of severities, suggesting these forests can be highly functionally resistant to the increasing threat of forest disturbances from insect pests and pathogens.


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