Sharon Billings

Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Senior Scientist, Kansas Biological Survey
Ph.D., Duke University, 1998
Primary office:
Higuchi Hall


Dr. Billings' research characterizes the features governing nitrogen, carbon and water fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems, and how these dynamics are influenced by environmental change.

Selected Publications

Richter, D. D., Billings, S. A., Groffman, P. M., Kelly, E. F., Lohse, K. A., McDowell, W. H., White, T. S., Anderson, S., Baldocchi, D. D., Banwart, S. Brantley, S., Braun, J. J., Brecheisen, Z. S., Cook, C. W., Hartnett, H. E., Hobbie, S. E., Gaillardet, J., Jobbagy, E., Jungkunst, H. F., Kazanski, C. E., Krishnaswamy, J., Markewitz, D., O’Neill, K., Riebe, C. S., Schroeder, P., Siebe, C., Silver, W. L., Thompson, A., Verhoef, A., and Zhang, G.  2018.  Ideas and perspectives: Strengthening the biogeosciences in environmental research networks. Biogeosciences 15: 4815-4832. doi: 10.5194/bg-15-4815-2018.

Philben, M., Butler, S., Billings, S.A., Benner, R., Edwards, K.A., Ziegler, S.E.  2018.  Biochemical and structural controls on the decomposition dynamics of boreal upland forest moss tissues.  Biogeosciences 15: 6731-6746. doi: 10.5194/bg-15-6731-2018.

Ballantyne, F., Billings, S.A.  2018.  Model formulation of microbial CO2 production and efficiency can significantly influence short and long term soil C projections.  The ISME Journal. doi: 10.1038/s41396-018-0085-1.

Ballantyne, F., Billings, S.A.  2018.  Model formulation of microbial CO2 production and efficiency can significantly influence short and long term soil C projections.  The ISME Journal. doi: 10.1038/s41396-018-0085-1.

Billings, S.A., Hirmas, D., Sullivan, P.L., Lehmeier, C.A., Bagchi, S., Min, K., Brecheisen, Z., Hauser, E., Stair, R., Flournoy, R., Richter, D. deB.  2018.  Loss of deep roots limits biogenic agents of soil development that are only partially restored by decades of forest regeneration.  Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 6: 34. doi: 10.1525/elementa.287.

Philben, M., Billings, S.A., Edwards, K.A., Podrebarac, F.A., van Biesen, G., Ziegler, S.E.  2018. Amino acid δ15N indicates lack of N isotope fractionation during soil organic nitrogen decomposition.  Biogeochemistry. doi: 10.1007/s10533-018-0429-y.

Ziegler, S., Benner, R., Billings, S., Edwards, K., Philben, M., Zhu, X., and Laganiere, J. 2017. Climate warming can accelerate carbon fluxes without changing soil carbon stocks. Frontiers in Earth Science. doi: 10.3389/feart.2017.00002

Billings, S., Min, K., Ballantyne, F., Chen, Y., and Sellers, M. 2016. Aging exo-enzymes can create temporally shifting, temperature-dependent resource landscapes for microbes. Biogeochemistry 131(1-2): 163-172.

Billings, S., Glaser, S., Boone, A., and Stephen, F. 2016. Nonlinear tree growth dynamics predict resilience to disturbance. Ecosphere. doi:doi:10.1890/ES15-00176.1

Lehmeier, C., Ballantyne, F., IV, Min, K., and Billings, S. 2016. Temperature-mediated changes in microbial carbon use efficiency and 13C discrimination. Biogeosciences 13: 3319-3329.

Dialynas, Y., Bastola, S., Bras, R., Billings, S., Markewitz, D., and Richter, D. 2016. Topographic variability and the influence of soil erosion on the carbon cycle. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. doi:10.1002/2015GB005302.

Billings, S., Boone, A., and Stephen, F. 2016. Tree-ring δ13C and δ18O, leaf δ13C and wood and leaf N status demonstrate tree growth strategies and predict susceptibility to disturbance. Tree Physiology, 36(5): 576-88.

Min, K., Lehmeier, C. A., F. B., IV, and Billings, S. A. 2016. Carbon availability modifies temperature responses of heterotrophic microbial respiration, carbon uptake affinity, and stable carbon isotope discrimination. Frontiers in Microbiology 7: 2083.

» Show All Publications

I focus on global-scale perturbations (e.g., changed precipitation patterns and temperature regimes, elevated carbon dioxide, altered nitrogen availability) in an effort to predict how Earth's biogeochemical cycles--and their dependencies on each other--will function in the future. Such work is critical for understanding the atmospheric composition and ecosystem production of our planet.

Selected Publications

  • Huang, Z., Liu, B., Davis, M., Sardans, J., Penuelas, J., & Billings, S. (2015). Long-term nitrogen deposition linked to reduced water use efficiency in forests with low phosphorus availability. In New Phytologist. doi:doi:10.1111/nph.13785
  • Billings, S. A., Glaser, S. M., Boone, A. S., & Stephen, F. M. (2015). Nonlinear tree growth dynamics predict resilience to disturbance. Ecosphere 6(11). doi:10.1890/ES15-00176.1
  • Haavik, L. J., Billings, S. A., Guldin, J. M., & Stephen, F. M. (2015). Emergent insects, pathogens and drought shape changing patterns in oak decline in North America and Europe. Forest Ecology and Management 354: 190-205.
  • Billings, S., Tiemann, L., Ballantyne, F., IV, Lehmeier, C., & Min, K. (2015). Investigating microbial transformations of soil organic matter: synthesizing knowledge from disparate fields to guide new experimentation. Soil 1: 313-330.
  • Billings, S. A., & Schlesinger, W. H. (2015). Letter to the Editor on: “Pyrogenic organic matter production from wildfires: a missing sink in the global carbon cycle’. Global Change Biology 21(8), 2831. doi:10.1111/gcb.12836
  • Laganiere, J., Podrebarac, F., Billings, S. A., Edwards, K. A., & Ziegler, S. E. (2015). A warmer climate reduces the bioreactivity of isolated boreal forest soil horizons without increasing the temperature sensitivity of respiratory CO2 loss. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 84: 177-188. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.
  • Kohl, L., Laganiere, J., Edwards, K. A., Billings, S. A., Morrill, P. L., Van Biesen, G., & Ziegler, S. E. (2015). Distinct fungal and bacterial delta C-13 signatures as potential drivers of increasing delta C-13 of soil organic matter with depth. Biogeochemistry124(1-3): 13-26. doi:10.1007/s10533-015-0107-2
  • Richter, D. D., & Billings, S.A. (2015). 'One physical system': Tansley's ecosystem as earth's critical zone.  New Phytologist 206(3): 900-912. doi: 10.1111/nph.13338.
  • Podrebarac, F. A. Laganiere, J., Billings, S.A., Edwards, K.A,, Ziegler, S.E. 2015.  Soils isolated during incubation underestimate temperature sensivity of respiration and its response to climate history.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 93: 60-68.
  • Billings, S.A., Tiemann, L.K. 2014. Warming-induced enhancement of soil N2O efflux linked to distinct response times of genes driving N2O production and onsumption. Biogeochemistry doi 10.1007/s10533-014-9973-2
  • Li, J., Ziegler, S.E., Lane, C.S., Billings, S.A. 2013. Legacies of native climate regime govern responses of boreal soil microbes to litter stoichiometry and temperature. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 66:204-213. 
  • Richter, D.deB, Bacon, A.R., Billings, S.A., Binkley, D., Buford, M., Callaham, M.A., Curry, A.E., Fimmen, R.L., Grandy, A.S., Heine, P.R., Hofmockel, M., Jackson, J.A., Lemaster, E., Li, J.W., Markewitz, D., Mobley, M.L., Morrison, M.W., Strickland, M.S., Waldrop, T., and Wells, C.G. 2014. Evolution of Soil, Ecosystem, and Critical Zone Research at the Calhoun Experimental Forest, in Hayes, D.C., Stout, S., Hoover, A., and Crawford, R. Research for the Long-Term: The interplay of societal need and research on USDA Forest Service Experimental Forests and Ranges. Springer Verlag, NY.
  • Ziegler, S. E., S. A. Billings, C. S. Lane, J. Li, and M. L. Fogel. 2013. "Warming alters routing of labile and slower-turnover carbon through distinct microbial groups in boreal forest organic soils" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 60. 23-32.
  • Lehmeier, C. A., K. Min, N. D. Niehues, F. Ballantyne, and S. A. Billings. 2013. "Temperature-mediated changes of exoenzyme-substrate reaction rates and their consequences for the carbon to nitrogen flow ratio of liberated resources" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 57. 374-382.
  • Billings, S. A. and F. Ballantyne. 2013. "How interactions between microbial resource demands, soil organic matter stoichiometry, and substrate reactivity determine the direction and magnitude of soil respiratory responses to warming" Global Change Biology.
  • Li, J., S. E. Ziegler, C. S. Lane, and S. A. Billings. 2012. "Warming-enhanced preferential mineralization of humified boreal forest soil organic matter: Interpretation of soil profiles along a climate transect using laboratory incubations" Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. 117. G02008.
  • Tiemann, L. K. and S. A. Billings. 2012. "Tracking C and N flows through microbial biomass with increased soil moisture variability" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 49. 11-22.
  • Grandy, A. S., J. M. Fraterrigo, and S. A. Billings. 2012. "Soil ecosystem resilience and recovery" Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services. edited by Wall, D. H., R. D. Bardgett, V. Behan-Pelletier, J. E. Herrick, H. Jones, K. Ritz, J. Six, D. R. Strong, and W. H. van der Putten.
  • Billings, S. A., S. E. Ziegler, W. H. Schlesinger, R. Benner, and D. d. Richter. 2012. "Predicting carbon cycle feedbacks to climate: Integrating the right tools for the job" Eos. 93. 188-189.
  • Ziegler, S. E. and S. A. Billings. 2011. "Soil nitrogen status as a regulator of carbon substrate flows through microbial communities with elevated CO2" Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. 116. G01011.
  • Tiemann, L. K. and S. A. Billings. 2011. "Indirect effects of nitrogen amendments on organic substrate quality increase enzymatic activity driving decomposition in a mesic grassland" Ecosystems. 14. 234-247.
  • Drake, J., A. Gallet-Budynek, K. Hofmockel, E. Bernhardt, S. A. Billings, R. B. Jackson, K. Johnsen, J. Lichter, R. Phillips, H. McCarthy, D. S. Moore, M. L. McCormack, S. Palmroth, R. Oren, J. Pippen, S. Pritchard, K. Treseder, W. H. Schlesinger, E. H. DeLucia, and A. C. Finzi. 2011. "Increases in the flux of carbon belowground stimulate nitrogen uptake and sustain the long-term enhancement of forest productivity under elevated CO2" Ecology Letters. 14. 349-357.
  • Billings, S. A. and N. Phillips. 2011. "Forest biogeochemistry and drought" Forest Hydrology and Biogeochemistry: Synthesis of Past Research and Future Directions. edited by Levia, D. F., D. E. Carlyle-Moses, and T. Tanaka. 581-597.
  • Tiemann, L. K. and S. A. Billings. 2011. "Changes in variability of soil moisture alter microbial community C and N resource use" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 43. 1837-1847.
  • Smith, V. H., B. S. M. Sturm, F. J. deNoyelles, and S. A. Billings. 2010. "The ecology of algal biodiesel production" Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 25. 301-309.
  • Goedhart, C. M., D. E. Pataki, and S. A. Billings. 2010. "Seasonal variations in plant nitrogen relations and photosynthesis along a grassland to shrubland gradient in Owens Valley, California" Plant and Soil. 327. 213-223.
  • Grandy, A. S., S. A. Billings, and D. d. B. Richter. 2010. "Saving our soils" Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 8. 171.
  • Billings, S. A., R. W. Buddemeier, D. d. B. Richter, K. van Oost, and G. Bohling. 2010. "A simple method for estimating the influence of eroding soil profiles on atmospheric CO2" Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 24. GB2001.
  • Billings, S. A., J. Lichter, S. E. Ziegler, B. A. Hungate, and D. d. B. Richter. 2010. "A call to investigate drivers of soil organic matter retention vs. mineralization in a high CO2 world" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 42. 665-668.
  • York, H. A. and S. A. Billings. 2009. "Stable-isotope analysis of diet in the short-tailed fruit bats (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae: Carollia)" Journal of Mammalogy. 90. 1469-1477.
  • Pataki, D. E., S. A. Billings, E. Naumberg, and C. M. Goedhart. 2008. "Water sources and nitrogen relations of grasses and shrubs in phreatophytic communities of the Great Basin Desert" Journal of Arid Environments. 72. 1581-1593.
  • Billings, S. A. and D. d. Richter. 2008. "The science of global soil change: Networking for our future" Eos: Transactions of the American Geophysical Union. 89. 151.
  • Bijoor, N. S., C. Czimczik, D. E. Pataki, and S. A. Billings. 2008. "The effects of temperature and fertilization on nitrogen cycling and community composition of an urban lawn" Global Change Biology. 14. 2119-2131.
  • Richter, D. d. and S. A. Billings. 2008. "Strengthening the world’s long-term soil research base" International Union of Soil Scientists Bulletin. 112. 10-12.
  • Billings, S. A. and E. Gaydess. 2008. "Soil nitrogen and carbon dynamics in a fragmented landscape experiencing forest succession" Landscape Ecology. 23. 581-593.
  • Lichter, J., S. A. Billings, S. E. Ziegler, D. Gaindh, R. Ryals, A. C. Finzi, R. B. Jackson, E. A. Stemmler, and W. H. Schlesinger. 2008. "Soil carbon sequestration in a pine forest after nine years of atmospheric CO2 enrichment" Global Change Biology. 14. 2910-2922.
  • Haavik, L., F. Stephen, M. Fierke, V. Salisbury, S. Leavitt, and S. A. Billings. 2008. "Dendrochronological parameters of northern red oak (Quercus rubra Fagaceae) infested with red oak borer (Enapholodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae))" Forest Ecology and Management. 255. 1501-1509.
  • Tiemann, L. K. and S. A. Billings. 2008. "Carbon controls on nitrous oxide production with changes in substrate availability in a North American grassland" Soil Science. 173. 332-341.
  • Billings, S. A.. 2008. "Biogeochemistry: Nitrous oxide in flux" Nature. 456. 888.
  • Billings, S. A. and S. E. Ziegler. 2008. "Altered patterns of soil carbon substrate usage and heterotrophic respiration in a pine forest with elevated CO2 and N fertilization" Global Change Biology. 14. 1-12.
  • Schaeffer, S. M., S. A. Billings, and R. D. Evans. 2007. "Laboratory incubations reveal potential responses of soil nitrogen cycling to changes in soil C and N availability in Mojave Desert soils exposed to elevated atmospheric CO2" Global Change Biology. 13. 854-865.
  • Billings, S. A.. 2006. "Soil organic matter dynamics and land use change at a grassland/forest ecotone" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 38. 2934-2943.
  • Billings, S. A., C. M. Brewer, and B. L. Foster. 2006. "Incorporation of plant residues into soil organic matter fractions with grassland management practices in the North American Midwest" Ecosystems. 9. 805-815.
  • Billings, S. A. and D. d. Richter. 2006. "Changes in stable isotopic signatures of soil nitrogen and carbon during forty years of forest development" Oecologia. 148. 325-333.
  • Billings, S. A. and S. E. Ziegler. 2005. "Linking microbial activity and soil organic matter transformations in forest soils under elevated CO2" Global Change Biology. 11. 203-212.
  • Billings, S. A., S. M. Schaeffer, and R. D. Evans. 2004. "Soil microbial activity and N availability with elevated CO2 in Mojave Desert soils" Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 18. GB1011.
  • Billings, S. A., S. M. Schaeffer, S. Zitzer, and R. D. Evans. 2003. "Trace N gas losses and N mineralization in an intact Mojave Desert ecosystem with elevated CO2" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 34. 1777-1784.
  • Schaeffer, S. M., S. A. Billings, and R. D. Evans. 2003. "Responses of nitrogen dynamics in an intact Mojave Desert ecosystem to manipulations in soil carbon and nitrogen availability" Oecologia. 134. 547-553.
  • Billings, S. A., S. M. Schaeffer, and R. D. Evans. 2003. "Nitrogen fixation by biological soil crusts and free-living bacteria in an intact Mojave Desert ecosystem with elevated CO2 and added soil carbon" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 35. 643-649.
  • Billings, S. A., S. Zitzer, H. Weatherley, S. M. Schaeffer, T. Charlet, J. Arnone, and R. D. Evans. 2003. "Effects of elevated CO2 on green tissue and litter quality in an intact Mojave Desert ecosystem" Global Change Biology. 5. 729-735.
  • Yarie, J. and S. A. Billings. 2002. "Carbon balance of the taiga forest within Alaska: present and future" Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 32. 757-767.
  • Billings, S. A., S. M. Schaeffer, S. Zitzer, T. Charlet, S. D. Smith, and R. D. Evans. 2002. "Alterations of nitrogen dynamics under elevated CO2 in an intact Mojave Desert ecosystem: evidence from δ15N" Oecologia. 131. 463-467.
  • Billings, S. A., D. d. Richter, and J. Yarie. 2000. "Sensitivity of soil methane fluxes to an altered precipitation regime in boreal forest soils" Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 32. 1431-1441.
  • Billings, S. A., D. d. Richter, and J. Yarie. 1998. "Soil carbon dioxide fluxes and profile concentrations in two boreal forests" Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 28. 1773-1783.

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