FSU Researchers: Savanna Fires Pump Central African Forests Full of Nitrogen


The remote forests of Africa’s Congo Basin have long been a blind spot for scientists working to understand how Earth’s natural cycles respond to the environmentally unique characteristics of different regions.

Now, two Florida State University researchers are part of a global team of scientists revealing the unexpected role that large-scale fires and high nitrogen deposition play in the ecology and biogeochemistry of these lush Central African forests.

Their findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could signal a fundamentally new understanding of these forests’ structure, functioning and biodiversity.

“We have been working in the Congo Basin for a decade and discoveries like this provide novel insights into how our planet works and remind us how much we still have to understand about the world around us,” said Rob Spencer, associate professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science.

Read more at Florida State University

Image: Researchers found that nitrogen from large-scale fires is being swept up into the atmosphere and deposited on the forests of the Congo Basin. (Credit: Travis Drake)