Research in the Bowman lab focuses on multiple areas of plant ecology, primarily on the interactions between plants and their resources, ranging from plant adaptations to low resource availability, to how plants influence soils and subsequently ecosystem function and biodiversity.
Alpine ecosystems have tremendous variation in soil resource availability associated with landscape topographic and microclimatic diversity, which results in substantial variation in biotic diversity. As a result the alpine is an excellent model system to address questions of plant-soil interactions. Research projects have addressed specific resource limitations to primary production in alpine communities, the role of competition and facilitation in community composition, the influence of symbiotic N2-fixation in the alpine nitrogen cycle and its influence on species diversity, and plant species influences on nitrogen cycling. This work has been informative for predicting environmental impacts of nitrogen deposition on ecosystems, and has assisted with setting air quality standards in mountain regions of the western U.S. and central Europe.