Andrew J. Burton

Andrew J. Burton
"Every day in the woods is a good day - don't get so caught up in the work at hand that you forget to look around and appreciate where you are."


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  • Professor, SFRES
  • Director, Ecosystem Science Center
  • PhD, Forest Science (Forest Ecology), Michigan Technological University, 1997
  • MS, Forestry (Soils and Hydrology), Michigan State University, 1986
  • BS, Forestry, Michigan State University, 1983

Belowground Processes and Ecosystem Ecology

Forest ecosystems have constantly changed through time. The difficulty today is understanding the influence of man relative to the background of natural change. We impact our forests both intentionally through management and unintentionally by creating pollution, introducing exotic pests, and altering our atmosphere. Are these impacts so severe that our forest ecosystems cannot be sustained? Will large-scale declines in forest health and productivity occur, or will our forests simply undergo gradual changes in composition as they adjust to a new environment? My research integrates soil science, hydrology, plant physiology and ecology in order to determine how ecosystems are affected by and adjust to environmental stresses and human manipulations. By understanding how forests are likely to change, we will be able to adjust our activities now to create a future in which forests can continue to provide the goods and services to which we have become accustomed.

Our students will manage the forests of the future. I enjoy taking them into the field so they can not only learn how our ecosystems work, but they also can see it, feel it and appreciate it. It is very important to me that our students learn and succeed. I am willing to work as hard as I can at making their education a success. I know I can contribute to our understanding of forest ecosystems through my research, but I also know that what I can do is far less than what hundreds of well-trained students will accomplish.

Areas of Expertise

  • Forest responses to global change factors
  • Belowground processes
  • Carbon and nutrient cycling
  • Physiological ecology of tree roots
  • Undergraduate involvement in research

Recent Publications

  • Crowther, T.W., C.W. Rowe, W.R. Wieder, J.C. Carey, M.B. Machmuller, K.E.O. Todd-Brown, L.B. Snoek, S. Fang, G. Zhou, S.D. Allison, J.M. Blair, S.D. Bridgham, A.J. Burton, et al. 2016. Quantifying global soil C losses in response to warming. Nature 540:104-108. Read More
  • Carey, J.C., J. Tang, P.H. Templer, K.D. Kroeger, T.W. Crowther, A.J. Burton, J.S. Dukes, B. Emmett, S. Frey, et al. 2016. Temperature response of soil respiration largely unaltered with experimental warming. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences 113:13797-13802. Read More
  • Ebanyenle, E., A.J. Burton, A.J. Storer, D.L. Richter, J.A. Glaeser. 2016. Elevated tropospheric CO2 and O3 may not alter initial wood decomposition rate or wood-decaying fungal community composition of northern hardwoods. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 111:74-77. Read More
  • Ibanez, I., D. Zak, A.J. Burton, K. Pregtizer. 2016. Chronic nitrogen deposition alters allometric relationships in a dominant tree species: Implications for woody biomass production and ecosystem carbon storage. Ecological Applications 26:913-925. Read More
  • Gahagan, A., C.P. Giardina, J.S. King, D. Binkley, K.S. Pregitzer, and A.J. Burton. 2015. Carbon fluxes, storage and harvest removals through 60 years of stand development in red pine plantations and mixed hardwood stands in Northern Michigan, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 337:88-97. Read More
  • Frey, S.D., S. Ollinger, K. Nadelhoffer, R. Bowden, E. Brzostek, A. Burton, B.A. Caldwell, S. Crow, C.L. Goodale, A.S. Grandy, A. Finzi, M.G. Kramer, K. Lajtha, J. LeMoine, M. Martin, W.H. McDowell, R. Minocha, J.J. Sadowsky, P.H. Templer, and K. Wickings. 2014. Chronic nitrogen additions suppress decomposition and sequester soil carbon in temperate forests. Biogeochemistry 121:305-316. Read More
  • Kaarakka, L., P. Tamminen, A. Saarsalmi, M. Kukkola, H.S. Helmisaari, and A.J. Burton. 2014. Effects of repeated whole-tree harvesting on soil properties and tree growth in a Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) stand. Forest Ecology and Management 313:180-187. Read More
  • Talhelm, A.F., K.S. Pregitzer, M.E. Kubiske, D.R. Zak, C.E. Campany, A.J. Burton, R.E. Dickson, G.R. Hendrey, J.G. Isebrands, K.F. Lewin, J. Nagy, and D.F. Karnosky. 2014. Elevated carbon dioxide and ozone alter productivity and carbon storage in northern temperate forests. Global Change Biology 20:2492-2504. Read More
  • Jarvi, M.P., and A.J. Burton. 2013. Acclimation and soil moisture constrain sugar maple root respiration in experimentally warmed soil. Tree Physiology 33:949-959. Read More
  • Burton, A.J., J.C. Jarvey, M.P, Jarvi, D.R. Zak, and K.S. Pregitzer. 2012. Chronic N deposition alters root respiration-tissue N relationship in northern hardwood forests. Global Change Biology 18:258-266. Read More

Recent Funding

  • 8/2016 – 6/2019 USDA Forest Service (subaward on DOE grant) “Wood Decomposition: Understanding Processes Regulating Carbon Transfer to Soil Carbon Pools Using FACE Wood at Multiple Scales”, $219,896. A.J. Burton (PI), and M.F. Jurgensen.
  • 6/2016 – 12/2018 USDA Forest Service “Measurement and Simulation of Carbon Stocks in African Mangroves”, $150,613 (includes $30,119 in cost share). A.J. Burton (PI)
  • 9/2013 – 8/2018 National Science Foundation “Collaborative LTREB Renewal: Long-Term Ecosystem Response to Chronic Atmospheric Nitrate Deposition”, $156,056, A.J. Burton (PI)
  • 10/2015 – 9/2018 USDA McIntire-Stennis “Effects of Climate Change on Northern Hardwood Productivity: Influences of Landscape Position and Population Genetics”, $21,700 (includes $7,700 in waived overhead). A.J. Burton (PI)
  • 9/2012 – 8/2017 National Science Foundation “SEP: Sustainable Forest-Based Biofuel Pathways to Hydrocarbon Transportation Fuels: Biomass Production, Torrefaction, Pyrolysis, Catalytic Upgrading, and Combustion”, $1,800,000. D.R. Shonnard (PI), E. Bar Ziv, A.J. Burton (co-PI, Thrust 1 leader), A.L. Mayer, and J.D. Naber

Recent Presentations

Current Research Projects

  • Michigan Gradient Study - Long-term Effects of Nitrogen Depositon on Northern Hardwood Forests (1987 - present)
  • The FACE Wood Decomposition Experiment – FWDE (2011 - present)
  • Measurement and Simulation of Carbon Stocks in African Mangroves (2016 to present)
  • Sustainable Forest-Based Biofuel Pathways (2012 to present)
  • Carbon Sequestration in Tropical Forests (2009 to present)


  • FW3020 Forest Ecology (Fall Semester, 3 cr - 2 h lecture, 3 h lab)
  • FW5100 Advanced Terrestrial Ecology (Spring Semester, 3 cr - 3 h lecture)
  • FW4810 Integrated Resource Assessment ("Capstone", Fall Semester, 2 cr lab section)