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R. Quinn Thomas

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Ecology, Cornell University 2013; M.S. Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire 2007; A.B. Environmental Biology, Dartmouth College 2005


As an ecosystem ecologist with an Earth System perspective, my interests broadly focus on understanding the interactions between forests and global environmental change. To address these questions, I work across a wide range of spatial scales, from individual trees to the globe using a broad set of tools, including ecosystem and Earth System models, remote sensing, large dataset analysis, and whole-ecosystem experiments.
Selected Research Themes
  • What are the dynamics of coupled nutrient cycles, and how do they impact terrestrial ecosystems and climate?

  • How is nitrogen deposition altering forest dynamics, carbon sequestration, and climate?

  • How do we scale ecosystem processes across time and space?

  • How do we use observational and experimental data to improve ecosystem models and ecological forecasts?

  • How do we best represent ecosystem processes in global models that predict forest-climate interactions?

  • How can we manage forest ecosystems to mitigate climate change, especially focusing on carbon, nitrogen, water, and energy balances of the forests?

Selected and Recent Publications
  • Thomas, R.Q., E.N.J. Brookshire, and S. Gerber.  Nitrogen limitation on land: How can it occur in Earth system models?  In press at Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12813

  • Thomas, R. Q. and Williams, M. 2014. A model using marginal efficiency of investment to analyze carbon and nitrogen interactions in terrestrial ecosystems (ACONITE Version 1), Geoscientific Model Development 7: 2015-2037.

  • Thomas, R.Q, G.A. McKinley, M.C. Long. 2013. Examining Uncertainties in Representations of the Carbon Cycle in Earth System Models. EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union 94: 460

  • Thomas, R. Q., S. Zaehle, P.H. Templer, and C.L. Goodale. 2013. Global patterns of nitrogen limitation: Confronting two global biogeochemical models with observations.  Global Change Biology 19: 2986-2998. 

  • Thomas, R. Q., J. R. Kellner, D. B. Clark, and D. R. Peart. Low Mortality in tall tropical trees. Accepted at Ecology.

  • Rastetter, E.B., R.D. Yanai, R.Q. Thomas, M.A. Vadeboncoeur, T.J. Fahey, M.C. Fisk, B.L. Kwiatkowski, and S.P. Hamburg.  Recovery from Disturbance Requires Resynchronization of Ecosystem Nutrient Cycles. In press at Ecological Applications.

  • Raciti, S. M, T. J. Fahey, R. Q. Thomas, P. B. Woodbury, C. T. Driscoll, F. J. Carranti, D. R. Foster, P. S. Gwyther, B. R. Hall, S. P. Hamburg, J. C. Jenkins, C. Neill, B. W. Peery, E. E. Quigley, R. Sherman, M. A. Vadeboncoeur, D. A. Weinstein, G. Wilson.  2012.  Local scale carbon budgets and mitigation opportunities for the northeastern United States.  Bioscience 62:23-38.

  • Leuzinger, S., and R. Q Thomas. 2011.  How do we improve Earth system models? Integrating Earth system models, ecosystem models, experiments and long-term data.  New Phytologist 191:15–18.

  • Thomas, R.Q., C. D. Canham, K. C. Weathers, and C. L. Goodale. 2010 Increased tree carbon storage in response to nitrogen deposition in the U.S.  Nature Geosciences 3: 13-17.

  • Hurtt, G. C., J. Fisk, R. Q. Thomas, R. Dubayah, P. Moorcroft, and H. Shugart. 2010 Linking Models and Data on Vegetation Structure: Data Requirements and a Modeling Framework for Future Space-borne Missions.  Journal of Geophysical Research. G00E10.

  • Canham, C. D. and R. Q. Thomas. 2010 Local frequency but not relative abundance of temperate tree species varies along climate gradients in eastern North America. Ecology. 91: 3433 – 3440.

  • Thomas, R. Q., G. C. Hurtt, R. Dubayah, and M. Schilz. 2008 Using lidar data and a height structured ecosystem model to improve estimates forest carbon stocks and fluxes over mountainous terrain.  Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing 34: S351-S363.

  • Fisher, J., G. C. Hurtt, R. Q. Thomas, and J. Q. Chambers. 2008 Clustered disturbances lead to bias in large-scale estimates based on forest sample plots.  Ecology Letters 11: 554-563.

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