Warm welcome to our visiting scholar!

pratap photoDr. Pratap Naikwade will be visiting the Sala Lab for six months, from August 2016 until February 2017.  Dr. Pratap Naikwade is working as Head and assistant Professor, Department of Botany, ASP College Devrukh (Affiliated to Mumbai University) Maharashtra, India. His research focuses on Preparation of Organic manures from different weeds and application of it on crop plants. He is also working on estimation of carbon sequestration in sacred groves and conservation of sacred groves. At ASU Dr. Pratap is interested in learning more about impact of climate change on ecosystems and livestock production as well as climate change modeling. Welcome Pratap!


Visiting scientists at the Sala Lab

Over the past four months, the Sala Lab has welcomed three visiting scientists from around the globe. Learn more about their research below and also on our ‘People’ page!

In November, we welcomed Dr. Fujiang Huo, a未标题-1 grassland scientist and professor from Lanzhou Unviersity in China. Fujiang’s research focuses on rangeland ecology and management. Here at ASU, Fujiang was interested in learning more about our precipitation manipulation experiments and DroughtNet. His research has been focused on the vegetation and livestock productivity, greenhouse gases emission and mitigation, economic and social analysis of rangeland grazing systems in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Loess Plateau, Inland Arid Region of northwest China and Inner Mongolian Plateau.

laura yahdjianWe welcomed a long-time friend of the Sala Lab, Dr. Laura Yahdjian, in January. She is a research Scientist in the Institute for Agricultural Plant Physiology and Ecology (IFEVA-CONICET) and an Assistant Professor of the department of Ecology in the School of Agronomy, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her broad scale research interests are in the area of terrestrial ecosystem ecology, with a focus on ecosystem-level questions including controls of primary production, ecosystem-water dynamics, and the effects of exotic plant invasions on ecosystem functioning. At ASU, Laura has been engaged in the research of drought effects on ecosystem functioning.


Dr. Marc Estiarte, a scientist from the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry (CREAF) in Barcelona, Spain, visited us during the month of February. Marc is currently involved in a project that studies the importance of precipitation timescales and timing for the productivity of ecosystems. This project involves field experiments that manipulate precipitation. He visited Sala’s Lab to deepen on the comprehension of the significance of timescales of water availability on ecosystem productivity.


New PNAS Paper

Congratulations to Laureano Gherardi on his recently published paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences! Check out his paper on the effects of precipitation variability on grass- and shrub-productivity. Most studies on climate change impact focus on the effects of changes in the amount of precipitation in a system, overlooking the effects of interannual variability in precipitation. This 6-year study presents results of manipulated precipitation variability in the field. Interannual precipitation variability was altered between treatments while overall precipitation amount was kept constant. Perennial grass productivity decreased by 81% whereas shrub productivity increased by 67%. This work addresses an understudied dimension of climate change that suggests widespread shrub encroachment under drought conditions, thus reducing the provision of ecosystem services by perennial grasses in these semi-arid systems.


Welcome new Sala Lab members

Welcome Aaron Boydston and Courtney Currier to the Sala Lab. Aaron, a new Master’s student, and Courtney, the new research technician, both joined our lab this fall. Aaron’s research will focus on how proper grazing management can increase carbon storage in semi-arid grassland soils. During the month of October, Courtney was introduced to the Sala Lab field sites, including the Jornada LTER in the Chihuahuan Desert. Welcome!


Job Opportunity

SARAS is looking for a Chief Operating Officer. See their full announcement and application instructions here


Ecosystem Services Paper

Check our paper on ecosystem services just published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Ecosystem services have been extensively studied in recent decades. Most of the thousands of scholarly papers published on the subject have focused on describing the production, spatial extent, and valuation of such services. Human reliance on ecosystem services is a function of ecosystems’ capacity to supply and societal demand for these benefits. However, considerably more attention has been devoted to the supply side than to the demand for them. Sustainable land management depends on reconciling supply of and demand for ecosystem services among different stakeholders. The paper emphasizes the need of shifting our attention from the supply of ecosystem services to attaining a balance between supply and demand.



Congratulations to Laureano Gherardi on earning his PhD! Lau’s dissertation, titled “The Effects of Interannual Precipitation Variability on the Functioning of Grasslands,” was accepted with his defense in November. Lau will now be continuing his work for the Sala Lab as a post-doctoral researcher.



We welcome Laura Yahdjian to the Sala Lab. Laura is a visiting professor from the University of Buenos Aires who works in grassland ecosystems. She has carried out important work on water controls on decomposition and nitrogen cycling in arid ecosystems. She is currently interested on the effects of land use on greenhouse-gas emissions. During her stay at ASU, Laura is working on issues of grassland ecosystem services and how they are affected by woody-plant encroachment. Stop by and say hi to Laura!


Newly published nitrogen study

A new paper has come out from the Sala Lab in Oecologia. The paper entitled “Preference for different inorganic nitrogen forms among plant functional types and species of the Patagonian steppe” shows that shrubs and grasses absorb preferentially different forms of inorganic nitrogen. Grasses which have fibrous and shallow roots absorb inorganic N mainly as ammonium, which is the main inorganic N form in the upper soil and has limited mobility through the soil profile. In contrast, shrubs that explore deep and N-poor soil layers and have non-fibrous roots, have kinetic adaptations to preferentially take up nitrate. Such differences allow for the complementary use of N between grasses and shrubs and suggest a more thorough exploitation of resources by diverse ecosystems than those dominated by just one functional type.