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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Sept. 18: Ecosystem Ecologist Sarah Hobbie to Deliver Ford Lectures

Hobbie will deliver technical talk at 10 a.m., evening lecture at 7:30 p.m.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 9-8-2017

Mankato, Minn. – Sarah Hobbie, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, will deliver two lectures at Minnesota State University, Mankato, on Monday, Sept. 18 as part of the 28th annual Leonard A. Ford Lectureship.

Both lectures, free and open to the public, will be held on campus in the Centennial Student Union’s Ostrander Auditorium.

Hobbie’s first lecture, titled “Interacting global element cycles: Nitrogen constraints on the changing global carbon cycle,” will be held at 10 a.m. Her second lecture, titled “Trees, pets, and people: A watershed approach to understanding urban water pollution,” will be held at 7:30 p.m.
In her 10 a.m. technical talk, Hobbie will discuss current understanding of human impacts on the global carbon cycle, and describe long-term ecological experiments aimed at understanding interactions between the carbon cycle and the changing global reactive nitrogen cycle.

According to an abstract of Hobbie’s 7:30 p.m. presentation:

“People in and downstream of cities rely on lakes and rivers for a variety of services. Despite progress made in reducing point sources of pollution to urban surface waters, these waters continue to be impaired by so called “non-point” pollution, particularly excessive inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus. We have been taking a watershed approach to understanding urban water pollution, quantifying inputs and outputs of nitrogen and phosphorus in urban sub-watersheds of the Mississippi River, in St. Paul, Minn., towards improving management of urban nutrient pollution. Household actions of lawn fertilization and pet ownership contributed the majority of watershed nitrogen and phosphorus inputs, respectively. Nitrogen and phosphorus exhibited contrasting dynamics within watersheds. In contrast to many non-urban watersheds that exhibit high phosphorus retention, these urban watersheds have high street density that enhanced transport of phosphorus-rich materials like tree leaves from landscapes to storm water, likely contributing to surface water degradation. High apparent nitrogen retention likely resulted from unmeasured watershed nitrogen losses to the atmosphere and groundwater. These contrasting dynamics suggest that nitrogen management should emphasize reducing watershed inputs from residential fertilizer, while phosphorus management should focus on reducing watershed phosphorus inputs and transport from vegetated landscapes to streets and storm drains through leaves and lawn runoff.”

An ecosystem ecologist, Hobbie is known for her studies of terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems ranging from tundra to cities. Hobbie grew up in St. Paul, Minn. She graduated from Carleton College in 1986 with a degree in biology and earned a doctorate in 1995 from UC Berkeley. She later was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University. In 1998, she joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota, where she is a fellow of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, is involved in undergraduate writing across the curriculum programming and in graduate education leadership, and is a member of the University of Minnesota’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Hobbie’s research addresses the influence of human activities on terrestrial ecosystems. She explores the influence of human-caused changes to the global and local environment – rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, increased atmospheric nitrogen deposition, climate change, urbanization, and plant species compositional shifts – on ecosystem processes, particularly terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycling and the flow of nutrients from land to water.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Geology in Minnesota State Mankato’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology.

For more information, contact Christine Cords, office manager in the Department of Chemistry and Geology, at 507-389-1963, or

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,110 students, is part of the Minnesota State system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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