Welcome to the Houlton lab! Please explore the links for information about our research activities and achievements. Please feel free to contact Ben at bzhoulton ‘at’ ucdavis ‘dot’ edu with any queries.
Houlton group, 2015-2016. Left to right: Pawlok Dass, Scott Mitchell, Katy Dynarski, Rebecca Walker, Benjamin Houlton, Eriko Murata, Rafaela Lins
- 03/16, Ben was an invited participant of a 5-member discussion panel, which included Governor Jerry Brown, on California climate mitigation and adaptation, co-sponsored by the UC Davis Policy Institute and the Nature Conservancy. The panel discussion will air on UC TV in the future. It was an honor to be able to participate in this outreach effort.
- 03/16, Congratulations to Dr. Sara Enders for successfully defending her doctoral dissertation. Sara developed a new technique to examine how the terrestrial biosphere responded to past variations in climate and CO2, thus providing a window into the future. By examining ancient plant compounds buried in Siberian permafrost, Sara discovered that terrestrial ecosystems are poised to adapt to climate change; however, such adaptation seems to take longer (~1000 years) than contemporary climate change allows (decades).
- 01/16, Ben's research on the global distribution of symbiotic nitrogen fixation (published in Nature in 2008 and Nature Plants in 2015) has been highlighted in an popular science article that appeared in the a "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".
- 12/15, Led by former graduate student Dr. Alison Marklien, the Houlton lab team published a paper on global nutrient mineralization of nitrogen and phosphorus from forest litter in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. The research demonstrates that the nitrogen and phosporus cycles are stronlgy influenced by plant nutrient contents, with evidence for widespread phosphorus limitation of microbial decomposition in lowland tropical forests.
- 12/15, Ben was involved in a new study, published in "Scientific Reports" and cited by the Biology Faculty of 1000 for scientific impact. The analysis, developed when Dr. Wendy Huang visited the Houlton group, shows that carbon uptake in the terrestrial biosphere will be limited by nutrients, particlarly nitrogen. This result based on a global data synthesis has implications for the future of the carbon sink on land and the capacity for ecosystems to prevent human carbon dioxide emissions from warming the climate.
- 12/15, Ben, Joy, Sara, Katy and Scott presented their findings at the AGU meeting in San Francisco. It was an exceptional meeting with over 24,000 participants from all aspects of the earth and planetary sciences.
- 11/15, Ben has been named Associate Director of the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment. Ben will be leading the new strategic vision for the Muir Institute, which looks to intergrate the full pipeline of environmental sustainability - discovery, innovation, and novel solutions. Some of the key themes moving forward will involve the development of a "climate commons" for UC Davis, bringing activities from all colleges and professional schools together. Another furtile nexus involves the human behavioral sciences and the environment, an interface that is essential to society's future. In addition, the Muir Institute will be looking to enhance its local reach statewide and envision global partnerships to develop a focus on key international issues facing people, climate, and the environment. Stay tuned for more!