Ecosystem Ecology – K Rousk Lab
In the Ecosystem Ecology Lab, we are interested in the abiotic and biotic controls of nitrogen (N) fixation in moss-cyanobacteria associations. This ecosystem function is especially important in pristine ecosystems like boreal forests, subarctic tundra and tropical cloud forests. Cyanobacteria colonizing dominant moss species in these habitats contribute fundamentally to the ecosystem N pool. We conduct experiments in the laboratory and in the field, especially in the boreal and tropical biomes.
Our research focusses on the role of moss-associated, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria for nutrient cycling in pristine ecosystems. How important is moss-associated nitrogen fixation for ecosystem biogeochemistry? And how much will it be affected by climate change? We are also very much interested in the relationship mosses and colonising cyanobacteria share. Do they benefit from growing together? Or is the relationship neutral, or even parasitic? How do abiotic factors affect this association? We work with different moss- and cyanobacterial species collected across the globe. We use traditional methods (e.g. microscopy) as well as more novel approaches such as metagenomics.
We are supported by a Sapere Aude Starting Grant (2018-2022) from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (IRFD) and by an ERC Starting Grant (2021-2026).
Contact me if you are interested in BSc or MSc projects within my group on moss-cyanobacteria associations. You can e.g. assess the effects of climate change or pollution on nitrogen fixation in mosses, assess why some mosses are colonised by cyanobacteria and others are not, which cyanobacteria are associated with mosses etc.
Mosses are the gatekeepers of nitrogen input to ecosystems
New press release on our findings published in Annals of Botany can be found at the Department website.
View a short video presentation of my background and research interests here