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Roger Ruess

Tanana River
Roger Ruess
Research Interests: 

My research focuses broadly on controls over carbon and nitrogen cycling in boreal forests.  This has included studies on organic N cycling in soils, successional patterns of fine root production and decomposition dynamics, and the role of vertebrate herbivores in ecosystem function and landscape evolution.  I am also involved with groups exploring genomic approaches to bacterial and fungal community structure and function in boreal soils.  A current interest is the physiological ecology of alder-Frankia-mycorrhizal interactions, and the associated role of alder in boreal forest nutrient cycling dynamics.

Roger Ruess on the bank of the Tanana River
Roger Ruess
Roger W. Ruess
Professor of Biology
Associate Director of IAB - Ecology and Wildlife
414 Irving I Bldg.
407 Irving I Bldg.
Postal Address: 
Institute of Arctic BiologyPO Box 757000University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
  • B.S. 1974 University of California Irvine, Biological Sciences
  • Ph.D. 1980 University of North Dakota, Biology
  • Professor of Biology, University of Alaska, 6/2001-present
  • Associate Professor of Plant Ecology, University of Alaska, 6/1994-present
  • Assistant Professor of Plant Ecology, University of Alaska, 9/1989-6/1994
  • Lecturer, Syracuse University, 1988
  • Research Assistant Professor, Syracuse University, 1/1987-8/1989
  • National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, 1/1985-1/1987
  • Post-doctoral Research Assistant, Syracuse University, 8/1980-12/1984
  • Graduate Research/Teaching Assistant, University of North Dakota, 1974-1980


McFarland, J.W. et al., 2010. Cross-Ecosystem Comparisons of In Situ Plant Uptake of Amino Acid-N and NH4 +. Ecosystems, 11, pp.177–193.
McGuire, D.A., Chapin III, F.S. & Ruess, R.W., 2010. Dynamics of change in Alaska’s boreal forests: Resilience and vulnerability in response to climate warming. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 40, pp.1195–1196.
Nossov, D.R., Ruess, R.W. & Hollingsworth, T.N., 2010. Climate sensitivity of thinleaf alder growth on an interior Alaskan floodplain. Ecoscience, 17, pp.312–320.
Schloss, P.D. et al., 2010. Psychrotrophic Strain of Janthinobacterium lividum from a Cold Alaskan Soil Produces Prodigiosin. DNA and Cell Biology, 29, pp.533–541.
Tape, K.D. et al., 2010. Snow-mediated ptarmigan browsing and shrub expansion in arctic Alaska. Ecoscience, 17, pp.186–193.



2014 Emil Usibelli Distinguished Research Award

  • Cross-scale controls over responses of the Alaskan boreal forest to changing disturbance regimes. National Science Foundation; Responsibilities: PI; 2017-2023 (Bonanza Creek LTER webpage).
  • Collaborative Research: Shrub impacts on N inputs and turnover in the Arctic, and their potential to feedback to vegetation and climate change. Responsibilities: Co-PI; 2016-2019.
  • Comparison of putative Carex subspathacea between Arctic Coastal Plain and Yukon Kuskokwim Delta and interpretations of climate effects on grazing systems. USGS; Responsibilities: PI; 2015-2018.
  • Utilizing forest inventory permanent plots for boreal forest disease detection and quantification of trembling aspen canker and Siberian alder canker. USFS-State and Private Forestry; Responsibilities: PI; 2016-2019.
  • Ecosystem-level consequences of mutualist partner choice in alder across a forest successional sequence in interior Alaska. National Science Foundation; Responsibilities: PI; 2007-2010.
  • Ecosystem Processes (BIOL 672, graduate).
  • Plant Physiological Ecology (BIOL 675, graduate).
  • Structure and Function of Vascular Plants (BIOL 334, undergraduate).
  • Grazing Ecology (BIOL 614, graduate).
Current Graduate Students (More info)
  • Robin Andrews
  • Iris Cato
  • Elizabeth Nicklen
Past Graduate Students
  • Mike Anderson. Ph.D. 2011. Sources of variation in the symbiotic association between Alnus and Frankia in interior Alaska.
  • Kendra Calhoun. M.S. 2010. Ectomycorrhizal diversity of white spruce (Picea glauca) at treeline along a latitudinal gradient in Alaska
  • Katie Christie. Ph.D. 2014. Trophic dynamics in a changing arctic: Interactions between ptarmigan and willows in northern Alaska
  • Kate Doran. Ph.D. 2000. Photosynthetic acclimation of white spruce (Picea glauca) to canopy microhabitats.
  • Claudia Ihl. Ph.D. 2007. (co-chair). Foraging ecology and sociality of muskoxen in northwestern Alaska.
  • Beth Lenart. M.S. 1996. (co-chair). Climate and caribou: effects of summer weather on the Chisana caribou herd.
  • Patricia Loomis. M.S. 2005. Nitrogen cycling at treeline: latitudinal and elevational patterns across the boreal landscape.
  • Sarah Ludwig. M.S. 2016. Fire severity effects on nutrient dynamics and microbial activities in a Siberian larch forest.
  • Jack McFarland. Ph.D. 2008. Latitudinal patterns of amino acid cycling and plant N uptake among North American ecosystems.
  • Jennifer Mitchell. M.S. 2006. Patterns of and controls over nitrogen inputs by green alder (Alnus viridis ssp fruticosa) to a successional chronosequence in interior Alaska.
  • Christa Mulder. Ph.D. 1996. Plant-herbivore dynamics on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: The effect of goose herbivory on arrowgrass.
  • Dana Nossov. M.S. 2008. Community, population, and growth dynamics of Alnus tenuifolia: implications for nutrient cycling on an interior Alaskan floodplain
  • Brian Person. Ph.D. 2001. Herbivore-mediated effects on ecosystem processes in a near-arctic salt marsh.
  • Michaela Swanson. M.S. 2016. Relationships between succession and community structure and function of Alnus-associated ectomycorrhizal fungi in Alaskan boreal forests.
  • Ken Tape. Ph.D. 2011. Arctic Alaskan shrub growth, distribution, and relationships to landscape processes and climate during the 20th century.
  • Daniel Uliassi. M.S. 1998. The regulation of symbiotic nitrogen fixation by thinleaf alder in primary successional forests of the Tanana River floodplain.
  • Amy Zacheis. Ph.D. 2000. Effects of migratory geese on plant communities and nitrogen dynamics in an Alaskan salt marsh.
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