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Welcome to the Lai Laboratory!


Old-growth forest

Tallgrass prairie

Deciduous forest

Savanna

Alpine forest


In this lab we use stable isotope ratio and meteorological techniques to measure, and models to integrate information across multiple scales in
ecosystem change research. Our research investigates how climate change and human impact affect ecosystem metabolism. We study carbon
and water transfer between the biosphere and the atmosphere, production and transport of greenhouse gases in coastal wetlands, and trophic
dynamics in a coastal marine system.

Ecosystem research that surveys the cycling of carbon, water and nutrients is critical to the maintenance of natural
resources on earth. Measuring fluxes is one of the direct means to quantify transfers of these elements between

pools. Alteration of ecosystem processes or its composition often results in a net change of gross flux balance.
Hence, anomalies in flux variation can serve as an indicator of ecosystem response to environmental changes.

When elements transfer from one pool to another, changes of their stable isotope ratios often occur because
biological and physical processes influence the behavior of molecules that have slightly different masses.
Consequently, measurements of stable isotope ratios in organic matter, water and atmospheric gases have been used to investigate ecological questions over a wide range of scales.