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Thomas W Crowther

Thomas W Crowther
ETH Zurich | ETH Zürich · Department of Environmental Systems Science

Zoology

About

168
Publications
166,111
Reads
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10,369
Citations
Citations since 2016
130 Research Items
9893 Citations
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Introduction
I am a global ecosystem ecologist, interested in understanding how terrestrial ecosystems respond, and feed back to climate change. See our website at www.crowtherlab.com

Publications

Publications (168)
Article
Full-text available
Reforestation is one of our most promising natural climate solutions, and one that addresses the looming biodiversity crisis. Tree planting can catalyse forest community reassembly in degraded landscapes where natural regeneration is slow, however, tree survival rates vary remarkably across projects. Building a trait-based framework for tree surviv...
Article
Full-text available
Island biogeography has classically focused on abiotic drivers of species distributions. However, recent work has highlighted the importance of mutualistic biotic interactions in structuring island floras. The limited occurrence of specialist pollinators and mycorrhizal fungi have been found to restrict plant colonization on oceanic islands. Anothe...
Article
Full-text available
Global change is affecting soil biodiversity and functioning across all terrestrial ecosystems. Still, much is unknown about how soil biodiversity and function will change in the future in response to simultaneous alterations in climate and land use, as well as other environmental drivers. It is crucial to understand the direct, indirect and intera...
Article
Full-text available
Soil micronutrients are capital for the delivery of ecosystem functioning and food provision worldwide. Yet, despite their importance, the global biogeography and ecological drivers of soil micronutrients remain virtually unknown, limiting our capacity to anticipate abrupt unexpected changes in soil micronutrients in the face of climate change. Her...
Article
The constant provision of plant productivity is integral to supporting the liability of ecosystems and human wellbeing in global drylands. Drylands are paradigmatic examples of systems prone to experiencing abrupt changes in their functioning. Indeed, space-for-time substitution approaches suggest that abrupt changes in plant productivity are wides...
Article
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A growing body of work examines the direct and indirect effects of climate change on ecosystems, typically by using manipulative experiments at a single site or performing meta-analyses across many independent experiments. However, results from single-site studies tend to have limited generality. Although meta-analytic approaches can help overcome...
Preprint
Full-text available
To quantify the ecological consequences of recent nation wide restoration efforts in China, spatially explicit information on woody biomass changes over the 21st century is critical However, long term biomass tracking at the national scale remains challenging as it requires continuous and high resolution monitoring . Here, we mapped above and below...
Article
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Fungi and bacteria are the two dominant groups of soil microbial communities worldwide. By controlling the turnover of soil organic matter, these organisms directly regulate the cycling of carbon between the soil and the atmosphere. Fundamental differences in the physiology and life history of bacteria and fungi suggest that variation in the biogeo...
Article
Full-text available
The degree to which elevated CO2 concentrations (e[CO2]) increase the amount of carbon (C) assimilated by vegetation plays a key role in climate change. However, due to the short‐term nature of CO2 enrichment experiments and the lack of reconciliation between different ecological scales, the effect of e[CO2] on plant biomass stocks remains a major...
Article
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The latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG) is one of the most recognized global patterns of species richness exhibited across a wide range of taxa. Numerous hypotheses have been proposed in the past two centuries to explain LDG, but rigorous tests of the drivers of LDGs have been limited by a lack of high-quality global species richness data. Here we...
Article
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1. Rapid technological advancements and increasing data availability have improved the capacity to monitor and evaluate Earth’s ecology via remote sensing. However, remote sensing is notoriously ‘blind’ to fine‐scale ecological processes such as interactions among plants, which encompass a central topic in ecology. 2. Here, we discuss how remote se...
Article
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Urban environments, regarded as “harbingers” of future global change, may exert positive or negative impacts on urban vegetation growth. Because of limited ground-based experiments, the responses of vegetation to urbanization and its associated controlling factors at the global scale remain poorly understood. Here, we use satellite observations fro...
Article
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Due to massive energetic investments in woody support structures, trees are subject to unique physiological, mechanical, and ecological pressures not experienced by herbaceous plants. Despite a wealth of studies exploring trait relationships across the entire plant kingdom, the dominant traits underpinning these unique aspects of tree form and func...
Article
Full-text available
Ecological networks have classically been studied at site and landscape scales, yet recent efforts have been made to collate these data into global repositories. This offers an opportunity to integrate and upscale knowledge about ecological interactions from local to global scales to gain enhanced insights from the mechanistic information provided...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Understanding how leaf autumn phenology varies at different spatio-temporal scales is key to accurately predicting phenological changes under future climate. Recent projections and observations of autumn phenology in deciduous temperate and boreal forests appear conflicting. At the interannual scale, autumn senescence correlates positively with spr...
Article
Full-text available
Climate warming is releasing carbon from soils around the world ¹⁻³ , constituting a positive climate feedback. Warming is also causing species to expand their ranges into new ecosystems ⁴⁻⁹ . Yet, in most ecosystems, whether range expanding species will amplify or buffer expected soil carbon loss is unknown ¹⁰ . Here we used two whole-community tr...
Article
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While the scientific community documents environmental degradation and develops scenarios to identify the operational margins of system Earth, less attention is given to how decisions are made that steer the system in one direction or the other. We propose to use strategy games for this purpose, increasing the representation of human agency in scen...
Article
Protecting and restoring biodiversity requires that nature becomes the economically sustainable option for local communities across the globe. Here, we present Restor, a data sharing platform developed to facilitate this process by providing transparency and connectivity to nature-based solutions. In the process, Restor provides a unique database t...
Article
Full-text available
The growing-season length of temperate and boreal trees has a strong effect on the global carbon cycle. Yet, a poor understanding of the drivers of phenological processes, such as autumn leaf senescence in deciduous trees, limits our capacity to estimate growing-season lengths under climate change. While temperature has been shown to be an importan...
Preprint
Fungi and bacteria are the two dominant groups of soil microbial communities worldwide. By controlling the turnover of soil organic matter, these organisms directly regulate the exchange of carbon between the soil and the atmosphere. Fundamental differences in the physiology and life history of bacteria and fungi suggest that variation in the bioge...
Article
Full-text available
Research in global change ecology relies heavily on global climatic grids derived from estimates of air temperature in open areas at around 2 m above the ground. These climatic grids do not reflect conditions below vegetation canopies and near the ground surface, where critical ecosystem functions occur and most terrestrial species reside. Here, we...
Preprint
Full-text available
Leaf phenology is key for regulating total growing season mass and energy fluxes. Long-term temporal trends towards earlier leaf unfolding are observed across Northern Hemisphere forests. Phenological dates also vary between years, whereby end-of-season (EOS) dates correlate positively with start-of-season (SOS) dates and negatively with growing se...
Article
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Most trees form symbioses with ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) which influence access to growth-limiting soil resources. Mesocosm experiments repeatedly show that EMF species differentially affect plant development, yet whether these effects ripple up to influence the growth of entire forests remains unknown. Here we tested the effects of EMF compositi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Soil life supports the functioning and biodiversity of terrestrial ecosystems. Springtails (Collembola) are among the most abundant soil animals regulating soil fertility and flow of energy through above- and belowground food webs. However, the global distribution of springtail diversity and density, and how these relate to energy fluxes remains un...
Article
Land use is a key factor driving changes in soil carbon (C) cycle and contents worldwide. The priming effect (PE)—CO2 emissions from changed soil organic matter decomposition in response to fresh C inputs—is one of the most unpredictable phenomena associated with C cycling and related nutrient mobilization. Yet, we know very little about the influe...
Article
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The response of soil carbon release to global warming is largely determined by the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration, yet how this relationship will be affected by increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition is unclear. Here, we present a global synthesis of 686 observations from 168 field studies to investigate the relationship between ni...
Article
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Irreversible climate change alters the decomposition and sequestration of soil carbon (C). However, the stability of C components in soils with different initial organic matter contents and its relationship with the response of major decomposers to climate warming are still unclear. In this study, we translocated Mollisols with a gradient of organi...
Article
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When ordinating plots of tropical rain forests using stand-level structural attributes such as biomass, basal area and the number of trees in different size classes, two patterns often emerge: a gradient from poorly to highly stocked plots and high positive correlations between biomass, basal area and the number of large trees. These patterns are i...
Preprint
Full-text available
A bstract Due to massive energetic investments in woody support structures, trees are subject to unique physiological, mechanical, and ecological pressures not experienced by herbaceous plants. When considering trait relationships across the entire plant kingdom, plant trait frameworks typically must omit traits unique to large woody species, there...
Article
Full-text available
A poor understanding of the fraction of global plant biomass occurring belowground as roots limits our understanding of present and future ecosystem function and carbon pools. Here we create a database of root-mass fractions (RMFs), an index of plant below- versus aboveground biomass distributions, and generate quantitative, spatially explicit glob...
Preprint
Climate warming is releasing carbon from soils around the world 1–3 , constituting a positive climate feedback. Warming is also causing species to expand their ranges into new ecosystems 4–9 . Yet, in most ecosystems, whether range expanding species will amplify or buffer expected soil carbon loss is unknown ¹⁰ . Here we used alpine grasslands as a...
Article
Full-text available
Standing dead trees (snags) decompose more slowly than downed dead wood and provide critical habitat for many species. The rate at which snags fall therefore influences forest carbon dynamics and biodiversity. Fall rates correlate strongly with mean annual temperature, presumably because warmer climates facilitate faster wood decomposition and henc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Geospatial modelling can give fundamental insights in the biogeography of life, providing key information about the living world in current and future climate scenarios. Emerging statistical and machine learning approaches can help us to generate new levels of predictive accuracy in exploring the spatial patterns in ecological and biophysical proce...
Article
Anthropogenic warming is expected to accelerate global soil organic carbon (SOC) losses via microbial decomposition, yet, there is still no consensus on the loss magnitude. In this Perspective, we argue that, despite the mechanistic uncertainty underlying these losses, there is confidence that a strong, positive land carbon–climate feedback can be...
Preprint
The restoration of forest ecosystems is associated with key benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Where possible, ecosystem restoration efforts should be guided by a detailed knowledge of the native flora to regenerate ecosystems in a way that benefits natural biodiversity, ecosystem services, and nature's contribution to people. Machin...
Preprint
Full-text available
Most tree species predominantly associate with a single type of mycorrhizal fungi, which can differentially affect plant nutrient acquisition and biogeochemical cycling. Here, we address for the first time the impact of mycorrhizal distributions on global carbon and nutrient cycling. Using the state-of-the-art carbon-nitrogen economics within the C...
Article
Full-text available
1. Earlier leaf‐out and later autumn leaf senescence under climate warming have been linked to increases in plant productivity and ecosystem carbon uptake. Yet, despite the potential implications of shifting phenology for plant carbon uptake, the degree to which phenological changes affect overall plant growth and the partitioning between above‐ an...
Article
Our study showed that increases in seasonal productivity drive earlier autumn senescence of temperate trees. Norby argues that this finding is contradicted by observations from free-air CO 2 enrichment (FACE) experiments, where elevated CO 2 has been found to delay senescence in some cases. We provide a detailed answer showing that the results from...
Book
Full-text available
the full text can be found at: https://lpvs.gsfc.nasa.gov/PDF/CEOS_WGCV_LPV_Biomass_Protocol_2021_V1.0.pdf
Article
Limits to the growing season The length of the growing season in temperate forests has been increasing under recent climate change because of earlier leaf emergence and later leaf senescence. However, Zani et al. show that this trend might be reversed as increasing photosynthetic productivity begins to drive earlier autumn leaf senescence (see the...
Article
Full-text available
To constrain global warming, we must strongly curtail greenhouse gas emissions and capture excess atmospheric carbon dioxide1,2. Regrowing natural forests is a prominent strategy for capturing additional carbon³, but accurate assessments of its potential are limited by uncertainty and variability in carbon accumulation rates2,3. To assess why and w...
Article
Full-text available
Forests are critical in regulating climate by altering the Earth's surface albedo. Therefore, there is an urgent need to enhance our knowledge about the effects of forest structure on albedo. Here, we present a global assessment of the links between forest structure and albedo at a 1-km spatial resolution using generalized additive models (GAMs). W...
Preprint
Full-text available
This is a reply to Martilli et al. (2020), Summer average urban-rural surface temperature differences do not indicate the need for urban heat reduction (https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/8gnbf).
Article
Late-spring frosts (LSFs) affect the performance of plants and animals across the world’s temperate and boreal zones, but despite their ecological and economic impact on agriculture and forestry, the geographic distribution and evolutionary impact of these frost events are poorly understood. Here, we analyze LSFs between 1959 and 2017 and the resis...
Article
Significance Fungi play a key role in the global carbon cycle as the main decomposers of litter and wood. Although current climate models reflect limited functional variation in microbial groups, fungi differ vastly in their decomposing ability. Here, we examine which traits explain fungal-mediated wood decomposition. In a laboratory study of 34 fu...
Article
Full-text available
Satellite data provide the opportunity to explore different land surface properties, such as albedo (reflectivity) and forest structure, for multidisciplinary purposes. We estimated land surface black-sky albedo at shortwave, near-infrared and visible spectral regions at a fixed solar zenith angle (i.e., 38∘) during peak growing season in 2005 on a...
Article
Full-text available
Soil stores more carbon (C) than all vegetation and the atmosphere combined. Soil C stocks are broadly shaped by temperature, moisture, soil physical characteristics, vegetation, and microbial-mediated metabolic processes. The efficiency with which microorganisms use soil C regulates the balance between C storage in soil and the atmosphere. In this...
Article
Full-text available
Climate warming is currently advancing spring leaf‐out of temperate and boreal trees, enhancing net primary productivity (NPP) of forests. However, it remains unclear whether this trend will continue, preventing for accurate projections of ecosystem functioning and climate feedbacks. Several ecophysiological mechanisms have been proposed to regulat...
Article
Full-text available
As the most abundant animals on earth, nematodes are a dominant component of the soil community. They play critical roles in regulating biogeochemical cycles and vegetation dynamics within and across landscapes and are an indicator of soil biological activity. Here, we present a comprehensive global dataset of soil nematode abundance and functional...
Article
The aim of the paper is to describe the temporal ontology of that basic manifestation of social agency that is the living of life together. The distinction between states, processes and events is clarified. There are notions of ‘doing things together’ that fall into each of these temporal categories. The ontology of the state of friendship is exami...
Article
Full-text available
Grasslands are subject to considerable alteration due to human activities globally, including widespread changes in populations and composition of large mammalian herbivores and elevated supply of nutrients. Grassland soils remain important reservoirs of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Herbivores may affect both C and N pools and these changes likely...
Article
Full-text available
As the most abundant animals on earth, nematodes are a dominant component of the soil community. They play critical roles in regulating biogeochemical cycles and vegetation dynamics within and across landscapes and are an indicator of soil biological activity. Here, we present a comprehensive global dataset of soil nematode abundance and functional...
Article
Full-text available
Global analyses are emerging as valuable complements to local and regional scale studies in ecology and are useful for examining many of the major environmental issues that we face today. Soil ecology has significantly benefited from these developments, with recent syntheses unearthing interesting, unexpected biogeographic patterns in belowground b...
Article
Our study quantified the global tree restoration potential and its associated carbon storage potential under existing climate conditions. Skidmore et al . dispute our findings, using as reference a yearly estimation of carbon storage that could be reached by 2050. We provide a detailed answer highlighting misunderstandings in their interpretation,...
Article
Fungi play many essential roles in ecosystems. They facilitate plant access to nutrients and water, serve as decay agents that cycle carbon and nutrients through the soil, water and atmosphere, and are major regulators of macro‐organismal populations. Although technological advances are improving the detection and identification of fungi, there sti...