Postdoctoral Associate

Melissa is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and with the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont. Melissa’s research takes a cross-scale approach to understanding the impacts of global environmental changes spanning processes happening at the leaf and microbe levels to the functioning of whole ecosystems.

Currently, Melissa is exploring soil carbon dynamics across space and time in New England forests. She is investigating how winter climate change (e.g., reduced snow pack) affects carbon cycling and whether microbes can adapt to more frequent soil freeze-thaw cycles. She is also interested in how microclimate affects soil carbon storage across complex mountainous landscapes. For example, she is exploring whether valleys prone to temperature inversions from "cold air pooling" could act as microrefugia for the species most vulnerable to climate change, and whether these cold pockets can serve as hotspots for carbon storage. Melissa’s past research used innovative global change field experiments to investigate how changes in atmospheric CO2, climate, nitrogen deposition, and biodiversity affect plant ecophysiology and carbon and nitrogen cycling. Prior to arriving at UVM, much of Melissa’s research took place in a tidal marsh at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and in a Minnesota prairie at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve.

Melissa is strongly committed to teaching, mentoring, and increasing accessibility and inclusivity in higher education, research, and science. She is intrigued with the unique qualities each student brings to the classroom and lab and engages learners within their individual zones of development as shaped by their own life and academic experiences to empower personal growth. She has experience teaching a variety of courses ranging from intro-level to advanced undergraduate courses, as well as graduate courses.

Publications

  • Pastore, MA, Hobbie, SH, Reich, PB. Sensitivity of grassland carbon pools to plant diversity, elevated CO2, and soil nitrogen addition over 19 years. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In press.
  • Reich, PB, Hobbie, SH, Lee, TD, Rich, R, Pastore, MA, Worm, K. Synergistic effect of four climate change drivers on terrestrial carbon cycling. Nature Geoscience 13: 787-793 (2020).
  • Pastore, MA, Lee, TD, Hobbie, SH, Reich, PB. Interactive effects of elevated CO2, warming, reduced rainfall, and increased nitrogen on leaf gas exchange in five perennial grassland species. Plant, Cell & Environment. 43: 1862-1878 (2020).
  • Pastore, MA, Lee, TD, Hobbie, SH, Reich, PB. Strong photosynthetic acclimation and enhanced water-use efficiency in grassland functional groups persist over 21 years of CO2 enrichment, independent of nitrogen supply. Global Change Biology. 25: 3031-3044 (2019)
  • Reich, PB, Hobbie, SH, Lee, TD, Pastore, MA. Unexpected reversal of C3 vs C4 grass response to elevated CO2 during a 20-year field experiment. Science. 360: 317-320 (2018).
  • Science published two technical comments that address the above Reich et al. 2018 article. Each appears with a response from Reich, Hobbie, Lee, and Pastore in Science 361: eeau8982 and Science 361: eaau1300 (2018).
  • Pastore, MA, Megonigal, JP, Langley, JA. Elevated CO2 and nitrogen addition accelerate net carbon gain in a brackish marsh. Biogeochemistry. 133: 73-87 (2017).
  • Pastore, MA, Megonigal, JP, Langley, JA. Elevated CO2 promotes long-term nitrogen accumulation only in combination with nitrogen addition. Global Change Biology. 22: 391-403 (2016).
  • McCormack, ML, Gaines, KL, Pastore, MA, Eissenstat, DM. Early season root production in relation to leaf production among six diverse temperate tree species. Plant and Soil. 389: 121-129 (2015).
Melissa Pastore

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Global change ecology, ecosystem ecology, plant ecophysiology, biogeochemistry

Education

  • Ph.D., Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota 2020
  • M.S., Biology, Villanova University 2015
  • B.S., Biology (Ecology Option), The Pennsylvania State University 2013

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