Mission Statement: The purpose of the Gill Lab at BYU is to advance the understanding of ecosystem and biogeochemical processes that are influenced by changes in climate and land use. We accomplish this through teaching and by conducting and communicating our research. 

Our research fits within the disciplines of global change, ecosystem, and physiological ecology. 

 Global Change Ecology   Global Change Ecology

Global change ecology includes the study of environmental change in biotic, atmospheric, and biogeochemical processes. The multi-scale nature of this research links local environments to regional and global phenomena such as increased levels of atmospheric CO2 and biologically available nitrogen, higher temperatures, and altered precipitation patterns.  
Ecosystem Ecology

Ecosystem ecology includes the study of interactions of biotic and abiotic components of the environment through the exchange of energy and matter between living organisms and the mineral soil and atmosphere. Carbon and nitrogen cycles are particularly important because they influence the conversion of sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into the energy that most of the planet depends on for survival. Our lab researches the changes to these nutrient cycles due to changing climate and land uses. 


Physiological Ecology

Physiological ecology involves the study of organisms and how they respond to their environment. In our lab we study plant responses to climate change by manipulating precipitation amounts and timing. 

Overview of Current Projects

Fire, Rainfall, and Rodents
Ecological interactions and the future of desert ecosystems  

 Fire, Rainfall, and Rodents   Rory O'Connor joined the lab in the summer of 2012 as a graduate student working on the fire, rainfall, and rodent project in the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts. He researches the establishment of plant communities following fire in places where small mammals are either present or excluded, and where precipitation is normal, reduced 30%, or elevated 30%. 

Ecology of Snowmelt
Plant and microbial community responses to early snowmelt 

 Ecology of Snowmelt  

This is the third year of our snowmelt experiment where PhD candidate Lafe Conner uses dust from the West Desert of Utah to cause early snowmelt in subalpine forests and meadows. This research covers the responses of plant and microbial communities to changes in the amount of snowpack and the timing of snowmelt.


iUTAH - Urban Sap Flux

    Michael Bunnell joined our lab in Fall 2013 under the innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-Sustainability (iUTAH) project. This research is part of a state-wide collaboration funded by an NSF EPSCor grant. Mike's research will contribute to measurements of transpiration from trees throughout the Provo River watershed. These measurements will help track the flow of water from high-elevation catchments to low-elevation urban centers. Knowing where water is going will lead to more informed and sustainable water planning.