Peggy H. Ostrom


Ph.D., Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1990

236A Natural Science Building
Office Telephone: 517-353-9768

Biogeochemistry and Food Web Dynamics

My primary research interests are in the fields of biogeochemistry and food web dynamics. Our lab focuses on a variety of modern and past ecosystem issues ranging from conservation of endangered species to trace gas flux. My current efforts are in studying lake primary production, trace gas emissions and conservation biology. In collaboration with Dr. Nathaniel Ostrom, my efforts are directed at understanding the origins and flux of the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide, with a greenhouse gas potential 300 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, is poorly understood. Yet, we have developed an approach to apportion the origins of nitrous oxide between nitrification and denitrification. Our efforts will help to deliver important information to policy makers attempting to mitigate global climate change.  I am also investigating the foraging ecology and genetic history of the endangered Hawaiian Petrel and threatened Newell's Shearwater. These seabirds have a stunning life history, spending only a few months each year on their breeding sites in the Hawaiian Islands. In the past, the Hawaiian Petrel was said to "darken the skies" but now they are isolated to a small number of colonies at high latitude that are at risk from predators (e.g. feral cats and rats), invasive vegetation and human disturbances. Another project focuses on the foraging biology, food web and conservation issues associated with bottlenose dolphins resident to Sarasota Bay, Florida. In collaboration with Dr. Randall Wells, Dr. Nelio Barros and Dr. Craig Stricker we seek to understand the influence of anthropogenic perturbations on the ecology of these dolphins.

Representative Publication

Wiley A.E., Ostrom P.H., Welch A.J., Fleischer R., Gandhi, H., Southon J.R., Stafford T.W., Penniman, J.F., Hu D, Duvall F.P. and James H.F. 2013. A millennial-scaleisotope records from a wide-ranging predator show evidence of recent human impact to oceanic food webs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 8972-8977.

Welch A.J., Wiley A.E., James H.F., Ostrom P.H., Stafford T.W., and Fleischer R.C. 2012. Ancient DNA reveals genetic stability despite demographic decline: 3,000 years of population history in the endemic Hawaiian petrel. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29: 3729-3740. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mss185.

Rossman S.L., Barros N.B., Gandhi H., Ostrom P.H., Stricker C.A., Wells R.S., Hohn A., in review. Retrospective analysis of bottlenose dolphin foraging reveals legacy of anthropogenic ecosystem disturbance. Marine Mammal Science 29: 705-718.

Ostrom N.E. and Ostrom, P.H. 2012. The Isotopomers of Nitrous Oxide: Analytical Considerations and Application to Resolution of Microbial Production Pathways, In Handbook of Environmental Isotope Geochemistry. M. Baskaran (ed.) Springer, Berlin, p. 453–476.

Smemo K.A., Ostrom N.E., Opdyke M.R., Ostrom P.H., Bohm S., and Robertson G.P. Improving process-based estimates of N2O emissions from soil using temporally extensive chamber techniques and stable isotopes. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, p. 1–10.