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Agroecology|Department of Plant Sciences

Agroecology

Dr. Urszula Norton, Assistant Professor of Agroecology, conducts research in the areas of both basic and applied science, concentrating on questions formed to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic or chronic disturbances on ecological underpinnings of ecosystem resiliency and sustainability. As a biogeochemist I am drawn toward understanding the linkages between belowground N and C cycling and ecosystem functions. I am interested in agroecological principles governing sustainable food production in time of diminishing natural resources and environmental change and the short and long-term consequences of climate variability on ecosystems services. In my research approach I investigate a variety of soil, air and plant indices that are most sensitive to environmental change such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and labile and stable organic matter pools. Methodologies I often employ include GHG measurements, assays for determining potentially mineralizable C and N, and gross rates of mineralization using 15N enrichment techniques.

Projects

  • Quantifying the impact of a massive bark beetle outbreak on carbon, water and nutrient cycling and regeneration of southern Wyoming lodgepole pine forests
  • Development and transfer of Conservation Agriculture Production Systems (CAPS) for small-holder farms in eastern Uganda and western Kenya
  • Effects of cropping-system, irrigation method, and soil properties on soil nitrogen and organic matter dynamics in the Big Horn Basin
  • Economic and environmental sustainability of conventional, reduced-input, and organic approaches on western crop-range-livestock farms

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