ben sullivan

Benjamin Sullivan

Associate Professor, Applied Soil Ecology


Our lab seeks to understand the fundamental role of soils in our world. We seek to tell the stories that are invisible to the naked eye. We study biological, chemical, and physical properties and processes along the atmosphere-plant-soil continuum. Learn more about our ongoing research and who we are, please visit

As humans have ever-greater and wide-ranging impacts on the biosphere, it is critical that we understand the mechanisms that control ecosystem processes so that we may anticipate the impact of future environmental change.


B.S. University of Montana, 2002
M.S. Northern Arizona University, 2007
Ph.D. Northern Arizona University, 2011


Publications are listed below.


Montane Meadows: A Soil Carbon Sink or Source?


Ecosystems, 24(5), 1125–1141

C.C. Reed, A G. Merrill, W. M. Drew, B. Christman, R. A. Hutchinson, L. Keszey, M. Odell,S. Swanson, P. S. J. Verburg, J. Wilcox, S.C. Hart, B. W. Sullivan

Biogeochemical recuperation of lowland tropical forest during succession


Ecology, e02641.

Sullivan, B. W., R.L. Nifong, M.K. Nasto, S. Alvarez-Clare, C. Dencker, F.M. Soper, K.T. Shoemaker, F. Yoko Yashida, J. Zaragoza-Castells, E.A. Davidson and C.C. Cleveland.

Leaf cutter ants engineer large nitrous oxide hot spots in tropical forests.


Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286: 20182504.

Soper, F.M., B.W. Sullivan, B.B. Osborne, A.N. Shaw, L. Phillipot, C.C. Cleveland.

Resource limitation modulates the fate of dissimilated nitrogen in a dual-pathway Actinobacterium.


Frontiers in Microbiology, 10, 3 doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00003

Vuono, D.C., R.W. Read, J. Hemp, B.W. Sullivan, J.A. Arnone III, I. Neveux, B. Blank, C. Staub, E. Loney, D. Miceli, M. Winkler, R. Chakraborty, D.A. Stahl, J.J.Grzymski.

A framework for evaluating estimates of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in forests


The American Naturalist 192(5) 618-629.

Winbourne J., M. Harrison, B.W. Sullivan, S. Alvarez-Clare, S. Rafaela Lins, L. Martinelli, M.K. Nasto, D. Piotto, S. Rolim, M. Wong, S. Porder

Actinorhizal species influence plant and soil nitrogen in semiarid shrub-dominated ecosystems in the western Great Basin


Journal of Arid Environments 157, 48-56

Freund, S.M., F.M. Soper, S.R. Poulson, P.C. Selmants, B.W. Sullivan

Building flux capacity: Citizen scientists increase resolution of soil greenhouse gas fluxes


PLoS ONE 13(7) e0198997.

Reed, C.C., J. Winters, S.C. Hart, R. Hutchinson, M. Chandler, G. Venicx, B.W. Sullivan

Charcoal increases microbial activity in eastern Sierra Nevada forest.


Forests 92 (3): 93, DOI:10.3390/f9020093.

Carter, Z., Sullivan, B. W., Qualls, R. G., Blank, R., Schmidt, C., Verburg, P.

Deconstruction of a plant-arthropod community reveals influential plant traits with nonlinear effects on arthropod assemblages.


Functional Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13060.

Harrison, J., Philbin, C., Gompert, Z., Forister, G., Hernandez, L., Sullivan, B. W., Wallace, I., Beltran, L., Dodson, C., Francis, J., Schlageter, A., Shelef, O., Yoon, S., Forister, M. L.

Legume Abundance Along Successional And Rainfall Gradients In Neotropical Forests


Nature Ecology and Evolution 2, 11014-1111

Gei, M., D. Rozendaal, L. Poorter, F. Bongers, J. Sprent, M. Garner, T.M. Aide, J. Andrade, P. Balavanera, J. Becknell, P.H. Brancalion, G.A. Cabral, R. César, R. Chazdon, R. Cole, G. Colletta, B. de Jong, J.S. Denslow, D. Dent, S. DeWalt, J. Dupuy, S. Durán, M. do Espírito Santo, G. Fernandes, J. Ferrera Nunes, B. Finegan, V.G. Moser, J. Hall, J.L. Hernandez-Stefanoni, A. Junqueira, D. Kennard, E. Lebrija-Trejos, S. Lecher, M. Lohbeck, E. Marin-Spiotta, M. Martinez-Ramos, J. Meave, D. Menge, F.

Regime shift in the littoral ecosystem of volcanic lake Atitlán in Central America: combined role of stochastic event and invasive plant species


Freshwater Biology 63(9), 1088-1106

Rejmankova, E., B.W. Sullivan, J. Aldad, J. Snyder, S. Castle, F. Morales.

Remotely sensed canopy nitrogen correlates with nitrous oxide emissions in a lowland tropical rainforest


Ecology 99(9), 2080-2089.

Soper, F.M., B.W. Sullivan, M.K. Nasto, B.B. Osborne, D. Bru, C. Balzotti, P. Taylor, G. Asner, A.R. Townsend, L. Philippot, S. Porder, C.C. Cleveland

Temperature and rainfall interact to control carbon cycling in tropical forests.


Ecology Letters 20 (6): 779-788.

Taylor, P.G., Cleveland, C. C., Wieder, W. R., Sullivan, B. W., Doughty, C. E., Dobrowski, S., Townsend, A.R.

A comparison of plot-based, satellite and Earth system model estimates of tropical NPP.


Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 29(5), 626–644.

Cleveland, C. C., Taylor, P., Chadwick, K. D., Doughty, C., Malhi, Y., Smith, W. K., Sullivan, B. W., Wieder, W. R., Townsend, A. R.

Proximate controls on semiarid soil greenhouse gas fluxes across 3 million years of soil development.


Biogeochemistry, 125(3), 375-391.

Sullivan, B. W., Nasto, M. K., Hart, S. C., Hungate, B. A.

Effects of water additions on pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) water relations, growth, and mortality across a three million year old soil age gradient in northern Arizona, USA.


Plant and Soil 357, 89-102.

Looney, C.L., B.W. Sullivan, J.M. Kane, T.E. Kolb, S.C. Hart.