I am an ecologist with interests in both the ecosystem implications of physiological processes and the evolutionary underpinnings of these processes. My research centers around fundamental questions of biological diversity and ecosystem processes and touches upon such topics as biological invasions, pests & pathogens, extinctions, atmospheric chemistry & air quality, and controls over element cycling.
I combine experimental and observational research with process-based ecosystem models. My current projects involve: 1) the regulation of ozone exchange between forests and the atmosphere [NSF Atmos Chem); 2) the effects of land use practices on ecosystems in boreal forests [NASA]; 3) whole-system mechanical and physiological responses to drought NSF IOS]; and 4) Animal control of ecosystem processes in Bornean forests [Nelson Fund].
Here is a news story from early 2019 about one of my projects, a collaboration among Sally Pusede, Xi Yang, several students, and me: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/drought-not-just-about-water-it-...
A bit about Manuel
I grew up in suburban Maryland, outside of Washington DC. I was one of those naturenerd kids who spent more time with frogs, toads, and snakes than with schoolwork. In junior high I developed a fascination with birds. This led to a series of jobs in high school that involved surveying and banding. In college I had jobs in a fruit fly genetics lab, in Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesian Borneo, and in an experimental plant ecology lab.
After college I worked for a few years as a technician for the USDA and the USFWS on fungal infections of wild wheat and population biology of elephant seals and western gulls. Eventually, I landed in an Ecosystem Ecology lab for grad school. That group focused on ecological and physiological mechanisms and on the biogeochemical implications of ecological processes, and I’m still asking those sorts of questions.