• Research in the Waring Lab

    All research in the Waring Lab is aimed at improving our understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle and its feedbacks to global change. Under this umbrella, our work is concentrated in three major areas.

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    Climate change mitigation through reforestation and enhanced rock weathering

    Funding: The Carbon Community, Eurofins Foundation, Grantham Foundation, NERC

    Nearly half of the organic carbon on land is held in forests, which are also important reservoirs of terrestrial biodiversity. How can we best protect, manage, and plant forests to enhance carbon capture from the atmosphere?


    The Waring Lab is also exploring how to 'layer' multiple carbon dioxide removal strategies in the same ecosystem, combining reforestation and enhanced rock weathering. We are particularly interested in how rock weathering impacts carbon uptake and release by plants and soils.

    Image: lysimeters at our field site in Wales, where we extract soil pore water to assess rock weathering rates.

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    Controls on carbon stabilization in soils

    Funding: U.S. Department of Energy, Didling Estate

    Soils contain more carbon than all terrestrial plants and the atmosphere combined. Some of this carbon can be retained belowground for centuries. We investigate controls on the formation of persistent, long-lived soil carbon, most recently using an innovative 'artificial soil' approach in the lab. We also explore how the composition of decomposer microbial communities affects carbon exchange between soils and the atmosphere.

    Image: artificial soils developed from customised blends of minerals and organic matter.

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    Manipulating soil microbiomes to enhance ecological restoration and agricultural outcomes

    Funding: The Michael Uren Foundation

    Plant function depends upon an enormously complex community of bacteria, and fungi and viruses that live in soil. Yet when managing ecosystems to capture carbon or to produce crops, we frequently ignore the soil microbiome, which has often experienced a significant degree of disruption due to land use change or agricultural practice. We are exploring ways to optimise soil microbiomes in multiple environmental settings, accelerating ecological restoration and sustainably intensifying crop production.

    Image: young trees growing at Glandwr forest in Wales, which have been inoculated with microbiomes from nearby mature forests.

  • Publications


    Open data policy: Whenever possible, the Waring lab ensures that our raw data is freely and publicly available. Links to Dryad data repositories (https://datadryad.org) are provided alongside the relevant publications.



    • Waring BG. 2024. Grand challenges in ecosystem restoration. Frontiers in Environmental Science 11: 1353829



    • Vargas GG, Perez-Aviles D, Raczka N, Pereira-Arias D, Tijerín-Trevino J, Pereira-Arias LD, Medvigy D, Waring BG, Morrisey E, Brzostek E, Powers JS. 2023. Throughfall exclusion and fertilization effects on tropical dry forest tree plantations: a large-scale experiment. Biogeosciences 20: 2143-2160 (https://datadryad.org/stash/dataset/doi:10.5061/dryad.5x69p8d6r)
    • Saunders T, †Adkins J, Beard KH, Atwood TB, Waring BG. 2023. Herbivores influence biogeochemical processes by altering litter quality and quantity in a subarctic wetland. Biogeochemistry 166:67-85 (https://arcticdata.io/catalog/view/doi:10.18739/A2CC0TV7W)
    • †Liang G, Reed SC, Stark JM, Waring BG. 2023. Unraveling mechanisms underlying effects of wetting-drying cycles on soil respiration in a dryland. Biogeochemistry 166: 23-37
    • †Liang G, Stark JS, Waring BG. 2023. Mineral reactivity determines root effects on soil organic carbon. Nature Communications 14(1), 4962 (Figshare links included under Data Availability statement)
    • Waring BG, Gurgel A, Koberle AC, Paltsev S, Rogelj J. 2023. Natural Climate Solutions must embrace multiple perspectives to ensure synergy with sustainable development. Frontiers in Climate 5 DOI: 10.3389/fclim.2023.1216175
    • †Murray J, Smith AP, Simpson M, Elizondo KKM, Aitkenhead-Peterson JA, Waring B. 2023. Climate, as well as branch-level processes, drive canopy soil abundance and chemistry. Geoderma 438, 116609
    • Beidler KV, Powers JS, Dupuy-Rada JM, Hulshof C, Medvigy D, Pizano C, Salgado-Negret B, Van Bloem SJ, Vargas GG, Waring BG, Kennedy PG. 2023. Seasonality regulates the structure and biogeochemical impact of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities across environmentally divergent neotropical dry forests. Journal of Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.14112




    • Waring BG, Smith KS, Belluau M, Khlifa R, Messier C, Munson A, Paquette A. 2022. Soil carbon pools are affected by species identity and productivity in a tree common garden experiment. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 5, 1032321.
    • Waring BG, †Gee A, †Liang G, †Adkins S. 2022. A quantitative analysis of microbial community structure-function relationships in plant litter decay. IScience 104523
    • †Liang G, Sun P, Waring BG. 2022. Nitrogen agronomic efficiency under nitrogen fertilization does not change over time in the long term: evidence from 477 global studies. Soil and Tillage Research 223, 105468
    • †Foley KM, Beard KH, Atwood TB, Waring BG. 2021. Herbivory changes soil microbial communities and greenhouse gas fluxes in a high-latitude wetland. Microbial Ecology 83: 127 - 136 (https://arcticdata.io/catalog/view/doi:10.18739/A21J9786S)


    • †Liang G, Luo Y, Zhou Z, Waring BG. 2021. Nitrogen effects on plant productivity change at decadal time-scales. Global Ecology and Biogeography 30: 2488-2499
    • Waring BG, De Guzman ME, Du DV, Dupuy JM, Gei M, Gutknecht J, Hulshof C, Jelinski N, Margenot AJ, Medvigy D, Pizano C, Salgado‐Negret B, Schwartz NB, Trierweiler AM, Van Bloem SJ, Vargas G, Powers JS. 2021. Soil biogeochemistry across Central and South American tropical dry forests. Ecological Monographs 91: e01453 (https://datadryad.org/stash/dataset/doi:10.5061/dryad.v15dv41vf)
    • Vargas G, Brodribb TJ, Dupuy JM, Gonzalez-M R, Hulshof CM, Medvigy D, Allerton TAP, Pizano C, Salgado‐Negret B, Schwartz NB, Van Bloem SJ, Waring BG, Powers JS. 2021. Beyond leaf habit: generalities in plant function across 97 tropical dry forest tree species. New Phytologist 232: 148-161


    • Waring BG, Sulman BN, Reed S, Smith AP, Averill C, Creamer CA, Cusack DF, Hall SJ, Jastrow JD, Jilling A, Kemner KM, Kleber M, Liu XJA, Pett‐Ridge J, Schulz M. 2020. From pools to flow: The PROMISE framework for new insights on soil carbon cycling in a changing world. Global Change Biology 26:6631-6643
    • Waring B, Neumann M, Prentice IC, Adams M, Smith P, Siegert M. 2020. Forests and decarbonization: roles of natural and planted forests. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 3, 58.
    • Hulshof CM, Waring BG, Powers JS, Harrison SP. 2020. Trait-based signatures of cloud base height in a tropical cloud forest. American Journal of Botany DOI: 10.1002/ajb2.1483



    • Wooliver R, Pellegrini A, Waring BG, Houlton B, Averill C, Schimel J, Hedin L, Bailey J, Schweitzer J. 2019. Changing perspectives on terrestrial nitrogen cycling: The importance of weathering and evolved resource‐use traits for understanding ecosystem responses to global change. Functional Ecology 33: 1818-1829
    • Waring BG, Pérez-Avilez D, Murray JG, Powers JS. 2019. Plant community responses to stand-level nutrient fertilization in a secondary tropical dry forest. Ecology DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2691 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mq62g78)
    • Medvigy D, Wang G, Zhu Q, Riley WJ, Trierweiler AM, Waring BG, Xu X, Powers JS. 2019. Observed variation in soil properties can drive large variation in modeled forest functioning and composition during tropical forest secondary succession. New Phytologist 223: 1820-1833


    • Smith KR, Waring BG. 2018 Broad-scale patterns of soil carbon pools and fluxes across semiarid ecosystems are linked to climate and soil texture. Ecosystems 22: 742-753 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7r3742r)
    • Waring BG, Hawkes CV. 2018. Ecological mechanisms underlying soil bacterial responses to rainfall along a steep natural precipitation gradient. ​FEMS Microbiology Ecology 94(2): fiy001
    • Averill CA, Waring BG. 2018. Nitrogen limitation of decomposition and decay: how can it occur? Global Change Biology 24: 1417-1427


    • Werden LK, Waring BG, Smith-Martin C, Powers JS. 2017. Tropical dry forest trees and lianas differ in leaf economic spectrum traits but have overlapping water-use strategies. Tree Physiology 38: 517-530 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5hj20q2)
    • Hawkes CV, Waring BG, Rocca JD, Kivlin SN. 2017. Historical climate controls soil respiration responses to current soil moisture. PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1620811114
    • Smith CM, Gei MG, Bergstrom E, Becklund KK, Becknell JM, Waring BG, Werden LK, Powers JS. 2017. Effects of soil type and light in height growth, biomass partitioning, and nitrogen dynamics on 22 species of tropical dry forest tree seedlings: comparisons between legumes and non-legumes. American Journal of Botany 104(3): 399-410.
    • Allen KA, Dupuy JM, Gei MG, Hülshoff C, Medvigy D, Piano C, Salgado-Negret B, Smith CM, Trierweiler A, Van Bloem SJ, Waring BG, Xu X, Powers JS. 2017. Will seasonally dry tropical forests be sensitive or resistant to future changes in rainfall regimes? Environmental Research Letters 12(2): 023001
    • Waring BG, Powers JS. 2017. Overlooking what is underground: root:shoot ratios and coarse root allometric equations for tropical forests. Forest Ecology and Management 385: 10-15


    • Waring BG, Powers JS. 2016. Unravelling the mechanisms underlying pulse dynamics of soil respiration in tropical dry forests. Environmental Research Letters 11(10): 105005 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2hd320d)
    • Waring BG, †Rosenthal LR, Gei MG, Powers JS. 2016. Plant-mycorrhizal interactions along a gradient of soil fertility in tropical dry forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 32: 314-323
    • †Schilling E, Waring BG, Powers JS. 2016. Forest composition modifies effects of litter chemistry on decomposition in regenerating tropical dry forests. Oecologia 182: 287-297 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gd2jc7f )
    • Sinsabaugh RL, Turner BL, Talbot JM, Waring BG, Powers JS, Kuske CR, Moorhead DL, Follstad Shah J. Stoichiometry of microbial carbon use efficiency in soils. 2016. Ecological Monographs 86: 172-189
    • Averill C, Waring BG, and Hawkes CV. 2016. Historical precipitation predictably alters the shape and magnitude of microbial functional response to soil moisture. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/gcb.13219
    • Livingston G, Waring BG, Pacheco LF, Gilbert L, Buchori D, Jiang Y, Jha S. 2016. Perspectives on the global disparity in ecological science. BioScience doi: 10.1093/biosci/biv175


    • Waring BG, Adams R, Branco S, and Powers JS. 2015. Scale-dependent variation in nitrogen cycling and soil fungal communities along gradients of forest composition and age in regenerating tropical dry forests. New Phytologist DOI: 10.1111/nph.13654 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.22q68sq)
    • Waring BG, Alvarez-Cansino L, Barry K, Becklund K, Dale S, Gei M, Keller A, Lopez O, Markesteijn L, Mangan S, Riggs C, Segnitz M, Schnitzer S, and Powers JS. 2015. Pervasive and strong effects of plants on soil chemistry: a meta-analysis of individual plant ‘Zinke’ effects. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 282: 1-8 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.15kb3)
    • Powers JS, Becklund KK, Gei MG, Iyengar SB, Meyer R, O'Connell CS, Schilling EM, Smith CM, Waring BG, and Werden LK. 2015. Nutrient addition effects on tropical dry forests: a mini-review from microbial to ecosystem scales. Frontiers in Earth Science DOI 10.3389/feart.2015.00034
    • Waring BG, Becknell JB, and Powers JS. 2015. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and cation use efficiency in stands of regenerating tropical dry forest. Oecologia 178(3): 887-897 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m900b)
    • Waring BG & Hawkes CV. 2015. Short-term precipitation exclusion alters microbial responses to soil moisture in a wet tropical forest. Microbial Ecology 69(4): 843-854 (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5g0mr64)


    • Waring BG, Weintraub SR, and Sinsabaugh RL. 2014. Ecoenzymatic stoichiometry of microbial nutrient acquisition in tropical soils. Biogeochemistry 117(1): 101-113


    • Waring BG, Averill C, and Hawkes CV. 2013. Differences in fungal and bacterial physiology alter soil C and N cycling: insights from meta-analysis and theoretical models. Ecology Letters 16(7): 887-894.
    • Waring BG. 2013. Exploring relationships between enzyme activities and leaf litter decomposition in a wet tropical forest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 64: 89-95.
    • Kivlin SN, Waring BG, Averill C, and Hawkes CV. 2013. Tradeoffs in microbial carbon allocation may mediate soil carbon storage in future climates. Frontiers in Terrestrial Microbiology 4 Article 261
    • Lucas RW, Salguero-Gomez R, Cobb DB, Waring BG, Anderson F, McShea WJ, and Casper BB. 2013. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) positively affect the growth of mature northern red oak (Quercus rubra) trees. Ecosphere 4(7) Article 84


    • Waring BG. 2012. A meta-analysis of climatic and chemical controls on leaf litter decay rates in tropical forests. Ecosystems 15(6): 999-1009.
    • Kuhn KM, Waring B, Reider K. 2012. Vertebrate dispersal of Agalychnis callidryas. Herpetology Review 43(4): 629.

    †Student mentee co-author