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Stephen C. Hart

Stephen C. Hart
S&E 1 Bldg., RM 204
S&E 1 Bldg., RM 225
  • B.S., 1982 — University of California, Berkeley
  • M.S., 1984 — Duke University
  • Ph.D., 1990 — University of California, Berkeley
Research Interests: 

Professor Hart's research explores the controls of biogeochemical processes and productivity in managed and wildland terrestrial ecosystems using methods such as:

  • Ecological genetics to isotopic analyses
  • Computer simulation modeling
  • Elucidate the biotic and abiotic factors that regulate terrestrial ecosystem structure and function

His research group is currently investigating:

  • Biological and geochemical controls on ecosystem development along a three million year, semi-arid soil chronosequence
  • Influence of the genetics of dominant plants on ecosystem processes
  • Effects of forest restoration treatments (e.g., thinning with or without prescribed fire) and wildfire on ecosystem carbon and water balance, soil microbial communities, and belowground processes
  • Efficacy of insect communities as indicators of forest ecosystem health
  • Utility of the 15N natural abundance signature of soil microbes as an integrator of nitrogen cycling processes
  • Impact of climatic change on soil-plant-atmosphere interactions; and the effects of water diversion on riparian forests
Media Contact: 

Forest fires, climate change, water resources, the sustainability of ecosystems – all hot topics in environmental science, and all studied in the labs of Professor Stephen C. Hart at UC Merced. The common thread in all his studies is a rigorous analysis of the chemical and biological processes that tie together plants, animals, soils and water - whether he's studying how soils and the terrestrial ecosystems they support have changed over the course of 3 million years, or figuring out how the delicate balance of carbon and water are altered when humans try to manage forests through tree thinning and prescribed fires. Heuses sophisticated tools in ecological genetics, isotope analysis and computer simulation modeling to gain insight on some of the most pressing environmental problems facing us today.

Hart can comment on questions of forest management, wild or prescribed fires, soil science, insects and ecosystems, how climate change affects terrestrial ecosystems, and the effects of water diversion on riparian forests.