• 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.

    Carbon sequestration in forests

    Funding: The Carbon Community

    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?

    Controls on carbon stabilization in soils

    Funding: U.S. Department of Energy

    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.

    Impacts of nitrogen deposition on the terrestrial carbon cycle

    Funding: U.S. National Science Foundation

    Humans have doubled the amount of reactive nitrogen in the biosphere. We study the effects of nitrogen on carbon sequestration in plants and soils across a variety of ecosystems, from the tundra to the tropics.

    Right: fertilizing forest plots in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

  • 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 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.

    †Student mentee co-author