Professor, Director of Aiken Forestry Sciences Laboratory

Our lab focuses on how global changes impact terrestrial ecosystems around the globe. Recently, we’ve focused on three general areas: (1) Understanding and modeling connections among soil organisms, herbivores, plants, and ecosystem function, (2) Understanding how shifting above- and below-ground biodiversity and global change alters the composition and function of ecosystems, and (3) Exploring how scale and location influence ecological patterns and processes. We work across scales from the micro (soil food webs) to the macro (regional carbon fluxes) as well as across diverse terrestrial ecosystems (forests, meadows, bogs, tropics, boreal, temperate). We use a combination of observations, experiments, and models to answer ecological questions.


Selected Publications

Liu H, Zhaorong M, Lin L, Wang Y, Zhang Z, Zhang F, Wang H, Liu L, Zhu B, Cao G, Zhao X, Sanders NJ, Classen AT, Reich PB, He JS (2018) Shifting plant species composition in response to climate change stabilizes grassland primary production. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(16): 4051-4056.

Read QD, Henning JA, Classen AT, Sanders NJ (2018) Aboveground resilience to species loss but belowground resistance to nitrogen addition in montane plant communities. Journal of Plant Ecology 11(3): 251-363.

Stuart-Haëntjens E, De Boeck H, Lemoine N, Mänd P, Kröel-Dulay G, Schmidt IK, Jentsch A, Stampfli A, Anderegg W, Bahn M, Kreyling J, Wohligemuth T, Lloret F, Classen AT, Gough C, Smith MD (2018) Mean annual precipitation predicts primary production resistance and resilience to extreme drought. Science of the Total Environment 636: 360-366.

Bradford MA, Veen GF, Bonis A, Bradford EM, Classen AT, Cornelissen JHC, Crowther TW, De Long JR, Kardol P, Manrubia-Freixa M, Freshet GT, Maynard DS, Newman G, van Logtestijn RSP, Viketoft M, Wardle DA, Wieder WR, Wood SA, van der Putten WH (2017) A test of the hierarchical model of litter decomposition. Nature Ecology & Evolution doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0367-4

Hendershot JN, Read QD, Henning JA, Sanders NJ, Classen AT (2017) Consistently inconsistent drivers of patterns of microbial diversity and abundance at macroecological scales. Ecology 98:1757-1763.

Mayor J, Sanders NJ, Classen AT, Bardgett R, Clément JC, Farjado A, Lavorel S, Sundqvist MK, Bahn M, Chisholm C, Cieraad E, Gedelof Z, Griguilis K, Kudo G, Oberski D, Wardle DA (2017) Elevation alters ecosystem properties across temperate treelines globally. Nature 542:91-95.

Crowther TW, Todd-Brown KEO, Rowe CW, Wieder WR, Carey JC, Machmuller MB, Snoek LB, Fang S, Zhou G, Allison SD, Blainr JM, Bridgeham SD, Burton AJ, Carrillo Y, Reich PB, Clark JS, Classen AT, Dijkstra FA, Elberling B, Emmett B, Estiarte M, Frey SD, Guo J, Harte J, Jiang L, Johnson BR, Kröel-Dulay G, Larsen KS, Laudon H, Lavallee JM, Luo Y, Lupascu M, Ma LN, Marhan S, Michelsen A, Mohan J, Niu S, Pendell E, Peñuelas J, Pfeifer-Meister L, Poll C, Reinsch S, Reynolds LL, Schmidt IK, Sistla S, Sokol NW, Templer PH, Treseder KK, Welker JM, Bradford MA (2016) Quantifying global soil carbon losses in response to warming. Nature 540:104-108.

Niu S, Classen AT, Dukes JS, Kardol P, Liu L, Lou Y, Rustad L, Vicca S, Tang J, Templer P, Thomas R, Tian D, Wang YP, Xia J, Zaehle S (2016) Global patterns and fundamental mechanisms of the terrestrial nitrogen cycle. Ecology Letters 19:697–709.

Classen AT, Sundqvist M, Henning JA, Newman GS, Moore JAM, Cregger M, Moorhead LC, Patterson CM (2015) ESA Centennial Paper: Direct and indirect effects of climate change on soil microbial and soil microbial-plant interactions: What lies ahead? Ecosphere 6(8):1-21.

Moore JAM, Jiang J, Patterson CM, Mayes MA, Wang G, Classen AT (2015) Interactions among roots, mycorrhizas and free-living microbial communities differentially impact soil carbon processes. Journal of Ecology 103:1442-1453.

Aimee Classen

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Instructional programs: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Research: Global change, ecosystem ecology, plant-soil interactions


  • PhD Biology, Northern Arizona University, 2004
  • BA, Biology, Smith College, 1995


  • 802-656-9570
Office Location:

Aiken 313D

  1. Classen Lab