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Dr Adam Pellegrini

University Lecturer
Dr Adam Pellegrini

Adam Pellegrini is accepting applications for PhD students.

Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA


From March 2020: Lecturer in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

From March 2020: Senior Member at Newnham College, University of Cambridge

2017-2019: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Fellow, Stanford University

2015-2017: NOAA Climate and Global Change Fellow, Stanford University

2010-2015: PhD fellow, Princeton University

Research Interests

How do ecosystems respond to changes in disturbance regimes, such as fire suppression in naturally burning savannas, or more frequent burning in forests that historically only burned periodically? What fundamental processes govern the responses of ecosystems to these changes, such as the role of soil properties and plant community composition? These are some of the questions that our lab seeks to understand. We ground our work in experimental research, taking advantage of the diverse sets of fire manipulation experiments across the globe combined with the advances in ecosystem models.

Our work spans many ecosystems across the globe in Africa, South America, and the United States to try to ascertain generalities in how ecosystems respond to fire, but also using natural variability as a platform to test hypotheses around mechanisms.

  • How resilient are western US forests to changing fire regimes?
  • What biogeochemical changes in soils either buffer against or accelerate ecosystem carbon and nutrient losses?
  • How do plant traits modify the effect of fire on ecosystems?
  • What are global patterns in how ecosystems respond to fire across the tropics?

Key Publications

Pellegrini, A. F. A., A. Ahlström, S. E. Hobbie, P. B. Reich, L. P. Nieradzik, A. C. Staver, B. C. Scharenbroch, A. Jumpponen, W. R. L. Anderegg, J. T. Randerson, and R. B. Jackson. 2018. Fire frequency drives decadal changes in soil carbon and nitrogen and ecosystem productivity. Nature 553:194–198.

Pellegrini, A. F. A., W. R. L. Anderegg, C. E. T. Paine, W. A. Hoffmann, T. Kartzinel, S. S. Rabin, D. Sheil, A. C. Franco, and S. W. Pacala. 2017a. Convergence of bark investment according to fire and climate structures ecosystem vulnerability to future change. Ecology Letters 20:307–316.

Pellegrini, A. F. A., L. O. Hedin, A. C. Staver, and N. Govender. 2015. Fire alters ecosystem carbon and nutrients but not plant nutrient stoichiometry or composition in tropical savanna. Ecology 96:1275–1285.

Pellegrini, A. F. A., R. M. Pringle, N. Govender, and L. O. Hedin. 2017b. Woody plant biomass and carbon exchange depend on elephant-fire interactions across a productivity gradient in African savanna. Journal of Ecology 105:111–121.

Pellegrini, AFA, Hobbie, SE, Reich, PB, Jumpponen, A, Brookshire, ENJ, Caprio, AC, Coetsee, C, Jackson, RB. Repeated fire shifts carbon and nitrogen cycling by changing plant inputs and soil decomposition across ecosystems. Ecological Monographs, 10.1002/ecm.1409

Pellegrini, AFA & Jackson, RB. The long and short of it: the timescales of how fire affects soils using the pulse- press framework. Advances in Ecological Research,

Pellegrini, AFA, McLauchlan, K, Hobbie, SE, Mack, M, Marcotte, A, Nelson, D, Perakis, S, Reich, P, Whittinghill, K. (2020) Frequent burning causes large losses of carbon from deep soil layers in a temperate savanna. Journal of Ecology,


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The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.