Our terrestrial research employs low-level molecular and isotopic techniques to illuminate carbon cycling processes on both ecosystem and continental scales. We are using diagnostic organic compounds (biomarkers) that are emitted as small particles (aerosols) into the atmosphere by terrestrial plants and accumulate in continentally-derived air masses. Using these biomarkers we can evaluate terrestrial biosphere status over large spatial scales and assess seasonal and inter-annual variability in response to environmental paramaters such as rainfall. Our terrestrial research sites have ranged from the tropical rainforest to the arctic tundra, as well as on ocean islands that are downwind of major continental ecosystems. Studies at the ecosystem level are conducted to better quantify linkages between plant ecosystems and the biomarker compounds present in atmospheric aerosols.
The Conte research laboratory is located at The Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA.