Yong Zhou receives two competitive research grants

Ecosystem Science and Management doctoral student Yong Zhou received two competitive research grants for his Ph.D. research in April 2015. One was the Exploration Fund Grant from the Explorers Club in support of exploration and field research for those who are just beginning their research careers. The other was the Howard McCarley Student Research Award from the Southwestern Association of Naturalists.

Yong is a Sid Kyle Graduate Merit Fellow in the department, pursuing a Ph.D. degree with Dr. Tom Boutton. His research is aimed at understanding how woody plant invasion into grasslands alters the 3-dimensional spatial patterns of soil biogeochemical processes. To accomplish this, Yong is taking spatially specific soil samples to a depth of 1.2 meters across a landscape in southern Texas where woody plants have been encroaching into grasslands for the past century. His research objectives are to: (1) quantify changes in spatial patterns of soil carbon and nitrogen storage with increasing soil depth; (2) investigate spatial patterns of δ15N (stable nitrogen isotope ratios) with soil depth to understand how nitrogen cycling processes are altered by woody invasion;  (3) reconstruct vegetation dynamics by linking spatial patterns of δ13C (stable carbon isotope ratios) across soil depths with sequential aerial photographs; and (4) examine the flexibility of soil stoichiometry in response to grassland to woodland conversion at the landscape scale.

Yong received a B.S. in Ecology from Northeast Normal University in China and an M.S. in Ecology from the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. For his M.S. degree, he studied fine root dynamics, soil microbial community composition, soil priming effect, and soil stoichiometry in grassland and forest ecosystems. He has published eight refereed journal articles based on his M.S. research in journals such as Oikos, PLoS ONE, Biogeosciences and Plant and Soil.

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