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Rich Norby

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, UTK


Dr. Richard J. Norby is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He retired in 2020 as a Corporate Research Fellow in the Environmental Sciences Division and member of the Climate Change Science Institute of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is an ecosystem ecologist with interests in tree growth, forest ecology, carbon and nitrogen cycling, and ecosystem responses to atmospheric and climatic change. He has been conducting experiments on the responses of trees and forests to elevated atmospheric CO2 since 1982, with an emphasis on belowground responses, and was the principal investigator of the Oak Ridge Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) Experiment. He has been leading research with UTK graduate students on belowground interactions in tropical forests in Puerto Rico, through DOE’s NGEE-Tropics program and Brazil, through the AmazonFACE project. He was the task leader for Sphagnum research on a large-scale manipulation experiment in a spruce peat bog in northern Minnesota  and task leader for Vegetation Dynamics in the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment in the Arctic. Norby has had a strong interest in fostering cross-disciplinary global change research and improved communication between experimentalists and modelers.

Norby has a B.A. in chemistry from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in Forestry and Botany from the University of Wisconsin. He is a fellow of the Ecological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, and the Association of Tropical Biology. Norby serves as an editor of New Phytologist and is a Trustee of the New Phytologist Foundation, and he is on the advisory board of the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research in the UK. Norby is the author or co-author of 190 journal articles and book chapters, which have been cited more than 17,000 times. He was recognized with an Outstanding Mentor Award by the U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science in 2007, the UT-Battelle Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Science and Technology in 2004, and the Scientific Achievement Award of the Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1992.






Cabugao KG, Yaffar D, Stenson N, Childs J, Phillips J, Mayes MA, Yang X, Weston DJ, Norby RJ. 2021. Bringing function to structure: Root-soil interactions shaping phosphatase activity throughout a soil profile in Puerto Rico. Ecology and Evolution.

Cordeiro AL, Norby RJ, Andersen KM, Valverde-Barrantes O, Fuchslueger L, Oblitas E, Hartley IP, Iversen CM, Gonçalves NB, Takeshi B, Lapola DM, Quesada CA.2020. Fine-root dynamics vary with soil depth and precipitation in a low nutrient tropical forest in the Central Amazonia. Plant-Environment Interactions 1:3-6.

Yaffar D, Norby RJ. A historical and comparative review of 50 years of root data collection in Puerto Rico. Biotropica 52: 563-576.

Norby RJ, Childs J, Hanson PJ, Warren JM. 2019. Rapid loss of an ecosystem engineer: Sphagnum decline in an experimentally warmed bog. Ecology and Evolution 9:12571-12585.

Norby RJ, De Kauwe MG, Domingues TF, Duursma RA, Ellsworth DS, Goll DS, Lapola DL, Luus KA, MacKenzie AR, Medlyn BE, Pavlick R, Rammig A, Smith B, Thomas R, Thonicke K, Walker AP, Yang X, Zaehle S. 2016. Model-data synthesis for the next generation of forest FACE experiments. New Phytologist 209: 17-28.

Medlyn BE, Zaehle S, De Kauwe MG, Walker AP, Dietze MC, Hanson PJ, Hickler T, Jain AK, Luo Y, Parton W, Prentice IC, Thornton PE, Wang S, Wang YP, Weng E, Iversen CM, McCarthy HR, Warren JM, Oren R, Norby RJ. 2015. Using ecosystem experiments to improve vegetation models. Nature Climate Change 5: 528-534.

Norby RJ, Zak DR. 2011. Ecological lessons from free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 42: 181-203.

Norby RJ, Warren JM, Iversen CM, Medlyn BE, McMurtrie RE. 2010. CO2 enhancement of forest productivity constrained by limited nitrogen availability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107: 19368-19373.

Norby RJ, Ledford J, Reilly CD, Miller NE, O’Neill EG. 2004. Fine root production dominates response of a deciduous forest to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101: 9689-9693.

Norby, R. J., C. A. Gunderson, S. D. Wullschleger, E. G. O'Neill, and M. K. McCracken. 1992. Productivity and compensatory responses of yellow-poplar trees in elevated CO2. Nature 357:322-324.

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