Christopher Neill

Research Projects
Amazon SoilsAmazonSoils
Amazon watershedAmazon Watersheds
saindplainSandplain Grasslands and Shrublands
Coastal Plain Ponds
PIRE Millennium Villages
Urban Ecology
Teaching and Students
Community Service
Director, Ecosystems Center

Rosenthal Director, Brown-MBL Partnership

Tel: 508-289-7481 | Fax: 508-457-1548

Ph.D. University of Massachusetts Amherst 1992
M.S. University of Massachusetts Amherst 1988
B.S. Cornell University 1980

Full CV


Research Statement

I try to understand how changes in land use and other human activities alter the structure of ecosystems. Several of my research projects investigate the ecological consequences of deforestation of the world’s largest tropical rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon. I study how deforestation changes the way water and dissolved and particulate materials move from land to water and within channels of streams and rivers. I also examine how forest clearing alters the rates of cycling of soil nutrients and organic matter and the emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides from soils to the atmosphere. My research group uses comparisons of gauged catchments, natural abundance of stable isotopes and field stable isotope additions, and paired hydrological and hydrochemical measurements.

I also direct the Brown-MBL Partnership and the Brown-MBL Graduate Program in Biology and Environmental Science.

In August 2010, colleagues from Brown and Columbia Universities and I were awarded a Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) grant. The project will examine the consequences for human well-being, land use and ecosystems services of the intensification of agriculture associated with Millennium Villages of Africa. We actively seek new graduate students for this new project. (PIRE project description)

I also work on the ecology and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in coastal Massachusetts, where rapid increases in residential development threaten ecosystems that contain high and unique biological diversity. With colleagues at The Nature Conservancy and elsewhere, I conduct large-scale management experiments that examine the effects of treatments, such as clearing or burning on these disturbance-dependent coastal sandplain grasslands and shrublands. In 2007 we initiated a new experiment to test methods for restoring old farmland to sandplain grassland on Martha’s Vineyard. I also study the ecology of coastal plain ponds, which harbor particularly high plant diversity along their shorelines.

Recent Publications
Riskin, S.H., S, Porder, M. E. Schipanski, E. M. Bennett, and C. Neill. 2013. Regional Differences in Phosphorus Budgets in Intensive Soybean Agriculture. BioScience 63: 49–54.

Baese, F., H. Elsenbeer, C. Neill and A. V. Krusche. 2012. Differences in throughfall and net precipitation between soybean and transitional tropical forest in the southern Amazon, Brazil. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 159: 19-28.

Germer, S., A. Zimmerman, C. Neill, A. V. Krusche and H. Elsenbeer. 2012. Disproportionate single species contribution to canopy-soil nutrient flux in an Amazonian rainforest. Forest Ecology and Management 267: 40-49.

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

Scheffler, R., C. Neill, A. V. Krusche and H. Elsenbeer. 2011. Soil hydraulic responses to land-use change associated with the recent soybean expansion at the Amazon cropland frontier. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 144: 281–289.

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