Investigating microbial controls on ecosystem patterns: integrating models of hydrologic transport and microbial metabolism to simulate biogeochemical patterns

2012 to 2017

Modern ecohydrologic models incorporate simplified representations of soil microbial processing; biogeochemical transformations are represented as simple transfer rate functions between soil pools with varying levels of biotic nutrient availability.  Such approaches fail to consider important determinants of biogeochemical patterns, such as redox potential and the availability of specific electron donors and acceptors.  We have developed a generalized strategy for predicting the optimized utilization of available C and N for microbial growth, constrained by: 1) elemental mass balances of electron donors and acceptors, including the chemical stoichiometry of metabolic half-reactions; 2) energy balance between respiratory demand and metabolic energy yield; and 3) ecological stoichiometric ratios of organic molecules.  By linking this microbial model with a model of hydrologic transport of electron donors and acceptors, we are developing a quantitative tools of understanding - and ultimately simulating - microbial controls on ecosystem patterns observed across scales of m to km, and over timespans of days to seasons.

IoE Graduate Student(s): 


MSU IoE Office

Montana State University
605 Leon Johnson Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-2374
MSU Director: Cathy Whitlock

UM IoE Office

The Universityi of Montana

The University of Montana
Davidson Honors College
Missoula, MT 59812
(406) 243-6058
UM Director: Maury Valett


Montana University System

Montana University System

Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
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