Benton Taylor

Benton Taylor

Assistant Professor
Benton Taylor

Faculty Support: Esther Jules

Terrestrial ecosystems have a massive capacity to capture carbon and mitigate anthropogenic global change. However, the build-up of plant and soil carbon pools depends heavily on the ability of plants and their below-ground symbionts to acquire soil resources to match demands set by their environment. Despite the importance of these below-ground dynamics, how plants adjust their resource-acquisition strategies under changing environmental conditions is not well understood. Will plants be able to adjust their strategies to access additional resources and increase carbon capture under future climate conditions?

Our research focuses on how terrestrial ecosystems respond to various global change drivers such as rising CO2, nutrient pollution, human land use, and extreme weather events, and how these ecosystem responses, in turn, influence the trajectory of global change. Our work spans from tropical rainforests to the tundra and encompasses scales from physiology to ecosystems. The influence of symbiotic nitrogen-fixing plants on ecosystem dynamics, the below-ground responses of trees to elevated CO2, and the processes that drive soil carbon storage are particular foci of our work. We combine field and greenhouse experimental manipulations, large-scale observational studies, and global data analyses to illuminate the web of interactions between human activity, terrestrial ecosystem processes, and global change.

Recent Publications

Taylor, B.N., R.L. Chazdon, and D.N.L. Menge. 2019. Successional dynamics of nitrogen fixation, nitrogen availability, and forest growth in regenerating Costa Rican rainforests. Ecology 100 (4): e02637.

Taylor, B.N., and D.N.L. Menge. 2018. Light regulates symbiotic nitrogen fixation more strongly than soil nitrogen availability. Nature Plants 4: 655-661.

Taylor, B.N., R.L. Chazdon, B. Bachelot, and D.N.L. Menge. 2017. Nitrogen-fixing trees inhibit growth of regenerating Costa Rican rainforests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114(33): 8817-8822.

Menge, D.N.L., S.A. Batterman, W. Liao, B.N. Taylor, J. Lichstein, and G. Angeles-Perez. 2017. Nitrogen-fixing tree abundance in higher-latitude North America is not constrained by diversity. Ecology Letters 20: 842-851.

Beidler, K.V., B.N. Taylor, A.E. Strand, E.R. Cooper, M. Schönholz, and S.G. Pritchard. 2015. Changes in root architecture under elevated concentrations of CO2 and nitrogen reflect alternate soil exploration strategies. New Phytologist 205: 1153-1163.

Taylor, B.N., A.E. Strand, E.R. Cooper, K.V. Beidler, M. Schönholz, and S.G. Pritchard. 2014. Root length, biomass, tissue chemistry, and mycorrhizal colonization following 14 years of CO2 enrichment and 6 years of N fertilization in a warm temperate forest. Tree Physiology 34: 955-965.    

Taylor, B.N., K.V. Beidler, E.R. Cooper, S.G. Pritchard, and A.E. Strand. 2013. Sampling volume in root studies: The pitfalls of under-sampling exposed using accumulation curves. Ecology Letters 16: 862-869.

Contact Information

Weld Hill Research Building
1300 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131

Harvard University Herbaria, 223
22 Divinity Avenue

Research Areas


Search by Last Name