Benjamin L. Turner
Address: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Apartado 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancón
Panamá, República de Panamá
American Embassy Panama
Attn: Benjamin Turner
9100 Panama City Pl
Washington, DC 20521-9100
Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales
Edificio Tupper - 401
Panamá, República de Panamá
Web: SOILS LAB WEBPAGE
Telephone: +507 212-8171
FAX: +507 212-8148
Some of the most fascinating advances in our understanding of ecosystems are likely to occur at the interface between ecology and biogeochemistry. Recent discoveries, such as the regulation of species diversity in Arctic tundra by soil nitrogen composition, indicate the ecological importance of soil nutrient biogeochemistry. There is currently limited information for tropical forests, but given their remarkable diversity and the complex interactions that exist at all trophic levels, it seems certain that similar interactions occur.
Key research questions being addressed include:
- What forms of nutrients are present in tropical soils? How do their solubility and/or availability vary in time and space? Are there marked differences in nutrient availability that may partly explain above ground ecology?
- How do organisms access nutrients from tropical soils, especially organic nutrients? Likely mechanisms include secretion of phosphatase or organic anions, mycorrhizal association, and direct uptake of low molecular-weight organic compounds.
- Could the differential availability of nutrients based on the above mechanisms regulate species diversity?
- Soil organic phosphorus: composition, dynamics, and biological availability.
- Soil carbon dynamics in tropical rain forests: part of the CTFS (Center for Tropical Forest Science) Carbon Initiative
- Nutrition of tropical forests: assessing nutrient status using novel biological and chemical approaches.
- Nutrient acquisition by plants: resource partitioning, the role of organic compounds, and potential regulation of community composition.
- Inositol phosphates: origins and function of the inositol phosphate stereoisomers (scyllo, neo, D-chiro) in soils.
- Wetland ecosystems: carbon and nutrient dynamics in tropical wetlands.
- Chronosequences: nutrient transformations during pedogenesis and their implications for plant and microbial communities.
- Rice soils: microbial and chemical mechanisms contributing to the phosphorus nutrition of rice under SRI (the System of Rice Intensification).
- Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry: δ13C/12C and δ15N/14N ratios to assess the dynamics of carbon and nitrogen in soils and plants.
- Podocarpaceae in tropical forests: soil factors contributing to the persistence of gymnosperms in angiosperm-dominated tropical forests.
Education and Degrees
B.Sc., Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, UK (1996).
Ph.D., Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK (2000).
Turner, B.L., Haygarth, P.M., 2001. Phosphorus solubilization in rewetted soils. Nature 411, 258.
Turner, B.L., Frossard, E., Baldwin, D.S., 2005. Organic Phosphorus in the Environment. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 432 p.
Engelbrecht, B.M.J., Comita, L.S., Condit, R., Kursar, T.A., Tyree, M.T., Turner, B.L., Hubbell, S.P., 2007. Drought sensitivity shapes species distribution patterns in tropical forests. Nature 447, 80–82.
Turner, B.L., Richardson, A.E., Mullaney, E.J., 2007. Inositol Phosphates: Linking Agriculture and the Environment. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 304 p.
Punyasena, S.W., Dalling, J.W., Jaramillo, C., Turner, B.L., 2011. Technical comment on “The response of vegetation at the Andean flank in western Amazonia to Pleistocene climate change”. Science 333, 1825.
Turner, B.L., Cernusak, L.A., 2011. Ecology of the Podocarpaceae in Tropical Forests. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, Volume 95. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington, D.C., USA. 207 p.
Hietz, P., Turner, B.L., Wanek, W., Richter, A., Nock, C.A., Wright, S.J., 2011. Long-term change in the nitrogen cycle of tropical forests. Science 334, 664–666.