Melany C. Fisk

Melany Fisk


160 Pearson Hall
Fisk Lab Website

Biographical Information

I am interested in soil biota and their functions in terrestrial ecosystem nutrient cycles. The soil component of ecosystems is amazingly diverse and structurally complex.  Soil organisms include plant roots, mycorrhizal and saprophytic fungi, bacteria, and a multitude of soil fauna.  Together, these form the detrital food web and are responsible for the decomposition of organic matter and the recycling of nutrients.  Research in my laboratory investigates the interactions among plants and various types of soil organisms, with a general goal to learn about the biotic complexities that underlie responses of forest ecosystems to environmental change.

Our work focuses on plant and microbial responses to interactions among multiple nutrient elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and carbon), to better understand potential consequences of environmental change in forest ecosystems.  We also examine the impacts of exotic earthworms in hardwood forest ecosystems.  These large decomposer organisms completely alter the soil environment, and our studies test the consequences for other organisms in the detrital foodweb and for nutrient cycling. 

Courses Taught

  • BIO 209W: Fundamentals of Ecology (Writing Intensive)
  • Bio 438/538: Soil Ecology and Sustainable Use
  • BIO 672: Ecosystem and Global Ecology

Selected Publications

  • Goswami S, Fisk MC, Vadeboncoeur MA, Johnston M, Yanai RD, and Fahey TJ.  2018.  Phosphorus limitation of aboveground production in northern hardwood forests.  Ecology 99: 438-449.
  • Minick KJ, Fisk MC, Groffman PM.  2017.  Soil calcium alters processes contributing to C and N retention in the Oa/A horizon of a northern hardwood forest.  Biogeochemistry 132:343-357.
  • Locey KJ, Fisk MC, Lennon JT.  2017.  Micro-scale insight into microbial seed banks.  Frontiers in Microbiology 7:2040.  doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.02040.
  • Ratliff TJ, Fisk MC.  2016.  Phosphatase activity is related to N availability but not P availability across hardwood forests in the northeastern United States.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 94:61-69.
  • Fisk MC, Santangelo S, Minick KJ.  2015.  Carbon mineralization is promoted by phosphorus and reduced by nitrogen addition in the organic horizon of northern hardwood forests.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 81: 212-218.
  • Dempsey MA, Fisk MC, Fahey TJ, Yavitt JB, and Balser TC.  2013.  Exotic earthworms alter soil microbial community composition and function.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 67:263-270.
  • Groffman, PM, Rustadt LE, Templer PH, Campbell JL, Christenson LM, Lany NK, Socci AM, Vadeboncouer MA, Schaberg PG, Wilson GF, Driscoll CT, Fahey TJ, Fisk MC, Goodale CL, Green MB, Hamburg SP, Johnson CE, Mitchell MJ, Morse JL, Pardo LH, Rodenhouse NL.  2012.  Long-term integrated studies show that climate change effects are manifest in complex and surprising ways in the northern hardwood forest.  BioScience 62: 1056-1066.
  • Fisk MC, Sobieraj JH, Fahey TJ, Costello AM, Crist TO. 2011.  Rhizosphere disturbance influences fungal colonization and community development on dead fine roots.  Plant and Soil 341: 279-293.