Heidi Asbjornsen

Phone: (603) 862-1011
Office: Natural Resources & the Environment, James Hall Rm 272, Durham, NH 03824
A headshot of Heidi Asbjornsen, associate professor in the Earth Systems Research Center.

My research interests fall broadly within the disciplines of ecosystem ecology, applied forest ecology, and sustainable agriculture, while encompassing aspects of plant ecophysiology, restoration ecology, ecohydrology, and sustainability science. The overarching question that I seek to address through my research is: What are the key ecological processes that determine an ecosystem’s capacity to sustainably provide diverse benefits to society while maintaining resilience to change, and how can these processes be actively reinforced and strengthened through management? I am particularly interested in the effects of climate change and land use change on the water cycle, and the linkages between plant-water interactions and nutrient and carbon cycles, in both forest and agricultural systems. An important component of my research program involves transferring information about ecological processes across scales—from the individual leaf or whole tree to the ecosystem, watershed, and landscape. I utilize a variety of approaches and tools to address this question, including stable isotopes of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, plant ecophysiological measurements, long-term monitoring of ecosystem processes, micrometeorology, and modeling. Currently active research projects in my lab include: I currently maintain four primary research projects in my lab. The first involves understanding the ecohydrological impacts, feedbacks, and interactions between climate change, land use, and water-carbon-nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems in the northeastern US and at regional scales. The second project is examining the biophysical and socioeconomic implications of increasing the production of food, biofuel, and fiber in New England and the potential for balancing the provisioning of multiple ecosystem service with maintaining the resilience and stability of ecosystems to environmental change. My international research focuses on the ecohydrological impacts of land use and climate change in diverse ecosystems (e.g., montane cloud forests, dry deciduous forests), and assessing the implications for policies such as payments for ecosystem services. Lastly, I am involved in long-term watershed scale research in the Corn Belt region of the Midwestern US to assess the potential for improving water quality, hydrologic regulation, and other ecosystem services by integrating small amounts of perennial vegetation in strategic locations within rowcrop agriculture.


  • Ph.D., Ecosystem Ecology, Yale University
  • M.S., Forest Ecology, Yale University
  • B.A., Biology, Carleton College

Courses Taught

  • 600: Work Experience
  • 729/829: Silviculture
  • 734/834: Tropical Ecology
  • 993: Sem/Agroforestry
  • NR 600: Work Experience
  • NR 729/829: Silviculture
  • NR 734/834: Tropical Ecology

Selected Publications

Brum, M., Lopez, J. G., Asbjornsen, H., Licata, J., Pypker, T., Sanchez, G., & Oliveira, R. S. (2019). ENSO effects on the transpiration of eastern Amazon trees (vol 374, 20180551, 2018). PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 374(1764). Retrieved from https://www.webofscience.com/

Wyka, S. A., McIntire, C. D., Smith, C., Munck, I. A., Rock, B. N., Asbjornsen, H., & Broders, K. D. (2018). Effect of Climatic Variables on Abundance and Dispersal of Lecanosticta acicola Spores and Their Impact on Defoliation on Eastern White Pine. PHYTOPATHOLOGY, 108(3), 374-383. doi:10.1094/PHYTO-02-17-0065-R

Jennings, K. A., Guerrieri, R., Vadeboncoeur, M. A., & Asbjornsen, H. (2016). Response of Quercus velutina growth and water use efficiency to climate variability and nitrogen fertilization in a temperate deciduous forest in the northeastern USA. TREE PHYSIOLOGY, 36(4), 428-443. doi:10.1093/treephys/tpw003

Gollany, H. T., Titus, B. D., Scott, D. A., Asbjornsen, H., Resh, S. C., Chimner, R. A., . . . Cisz, M. E. (2015). Biogeochemical Research Priorities for Sustainable Biofuel and Bioenergy Feedstock Production in the Americas. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 56(6), 1330-1355. doi:10.1007/s00267-015-0536-7

Jr, W. D. W., Alcoforado de Moraes, M. M. G., Asbjornsen, H., Mayer, A. S., Licata, J., Lopez, J. G., . . . Germano, B. D. N. (2015). Bioenergy Development Policy and Practice Must Recognize Potential Hydrologic Impacts: Lessons from the Americas. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 56(6), 1295-1314. doi:10.1007/s00267-015-0460-x

Asbjornsen, H., Hernandez-Santana, V., Liebman, M., Bayala, J., Chen, J., Helmers, M., . . . Schulte, L. A. (2014). Targeting perennial vegetation in agricultural landscapes for enhancing ecosystem services. RENEWABLE AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SYSTEMS, 29(2), 101-125. doi:10.1017/S1742170512000385

Gotsch, S. G., Asbjornsen, H., Holwerda, F., Goldsmith, G. R., Weintraub, A. E., & Dawson, T. E. (2014). Foggy days and dry nights determine crown-level water balance in a seasonal tropical montane cloud forest. PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT, 37(1), 261-272. doi:10.1111/pce.12151

Goldsmith, G. R., Munoz-Villers, L. E., Holwerda, F., McDonnell, J. J., Asbjornsen, H., & Dawson, T. E. (2012). Stable isotopes reveal linkages among ecohydrological processes in a seasonally dry tropical montane cloud forest. ECOHYDROLOGY, 5(6), 779-790. doi:10.1002/eco.268

Helmers, M. J., Zhou, X., Asbjornsen, H., Kolka, R., Tomer, M. D., & Cruse, R. M. (2012). Sediment Removal by Prairie Filter Strips in Row-Cropped Ephemeral Watersheds. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, 41(5), 1531-1539. doi:10.2134/jeq2011.0473

Asbjornsen, H., Goldsmith, G. R., Alvarado-Barrientos, M. S., Rebel, K., Van Osch, F. P., Rietkerk, M., . . . Dawson, T. E. (2011). Ecohydrological advances and applications in plant-water relations research: a review. JOURNAL OF PLANT ECOLOGY, 4(1-2), 3-22. doi:10.1093/jpe/rtr005

Most Cited Publications