Soils Lab

Emma Sayer

Research Interests

Emma Sayer

I started working in Panama for my Ph.D. research in 2001. My experiments are all carried out within the framework of a large-scale litter manipulation project on Gigante Peninsula in the Barro Colorado Nature Monument, which was designed to assess the importance of litter in the carbon and nutrient cycling in tropical forests. In brief, we remove all the litter from five 45-m x 45-m plots once a month and add it to five others, leaving five undisturbed as controls (link to project webpage and downloads).

During the research for my thesis, I became aware of some remarkable feedback processes between aboveground litterfall and belowground processes. My current research focuses on these feedbacks and investigates how increased litterfall affects carbon dynamics belowground. This work is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Ben Turner at STRI and Dr Edmund Tanner at the University of Cambridge, UK.

My research questions in particular are:

Academic record:


Sayer, E. J. (2006) Using experimental litter manipulation to assess the roles of leaf litter in the functioning of forest ecosystems. Biological Reviews, 81: 1-31.

Sayer, E. J., Tanner, E. V. J. & Cheesman, A. W. (2006) Increased litterfall changes fine root distribution in a moist tropical forest. Plant and Soil, 281: 5-13.

Sayer, E. J., Tanner, E. V. J. & Lacey, A. L. (2006) Litter quantity affects early-stage decomposition and meso-arthropod abundance in a moist tropical forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 229: 285-293.

Sayer, E. J. & Newbery, D. M. (2003) The role of tree size in the leafing phenology of a seasonally dry tropical forest in Belize, Central America. Journal of Tropical Ecology 19: 539-548.


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