Profile – Sarah Hobbie

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Sarah Hobbie

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Sarah Hobbie is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior department at the University of Minnesota. She is an ecosystem ecologist, known for her studies of terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems ranging from tundra to cities. Hobbie grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Carleton College in 1986 with a degree in biology and earned her PhD in 1995 from the University of California, Berkeley. After her PhD, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University. In 1998, she joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota, where she is a Resident Fellow of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, is involved in undergraduate writing across the curriculum programming and in graduate education leadership, and is a member of the University of Minnesota’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Hobbie was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences and is a Fellow in the Ecological Society of America.

Hobbie’s research addresses the influence of human activities on terrestrial ecosystems. She explores the influence of human-caused changes to the global and local environment – rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, increased atmospheric nitrogen deposition, climate change, urbanization, and plant species compositional shifts – on ecosystem processes, particularly terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycling and the flow of nutrients from land to water. She is active in the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research program (LTER), with ongoing research at the Cedar Creek LTER site in central Minnesota.

Research Areas:

  • Decomposition
  • Carbon and nutrient cycling
  • Ecosystem response to global change

Current N-related Projects:

  • Nitrogen effects on litter and soil organic matter decomposition


Dijkstra, F. E., S. E. Hobbie, J. M. H. Knops, and P. B. Reich. 2004. Nitrogen deposition and plant species interact to influence soil carbon stabilization. Ecology Letters 7:1192-1198

Hobbie, S. E. 1996. Temperature and plant species control over carbon and nitrogen cycling through litter and soil in Alaskan tundra. Ecological Monographs 66:503-522

Hobbie, S. E. 2000. Interactions between litter lignin and soil nitrogen availability during leaf litter decomposition in a Hawaiian montane forest. Ecosystems 3:484-494

Hobbie, S. E. and P. M. Vitousek. 2000. Nutrient limitation of decomposition in Hawaiian forests. Ecology 81:1867-1877

Hobbie, S. E. 2005. Contrasting effects of substrate and fertilizer nitrogen on the early stages of decomposition. Ecosystems 8:644-656.

Hobbie, S. E., L. Gough, and G. R. Shaver. 2005. Species compositional differences on different-aged landscapes drive contrasting responses of tundra to nutrient addition. Journal of Ecology 93:770-782

Hobbie, S. E. 2008. Nitrogen effects on litter decomposition: a five-year experiment in eight temperate grassland and forest sites. Ecology 89:2633-2644

Hobbie, S. E., W. C. Eddy, C. R. Buyarski, E. C. Adair, M. L. Ogdahl, and P. Weisenhorn. 2012. Response of decomposing litter and its microbial community to multiple forms of nitrogen enrichment. Ecological Monographs 82:389-405

Hobbie, S. E. 2015. Plant species effects on nutrient cycling: revisiting litter feedbacks. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30:357-363

Leff, J. W., S. Jones, S. M. Prober, A. Barberán, E. T. Borer, J. Firn, W. S. Harpole, S. E. Hobbie, K. S. Hofmockel, J. M. H. Knops, R. L. McCulley, K. J. La Pierre, A. C. Risch, E. W. Seabloom, M. Schütz, C. Steenbock, C. J. Stevens, and N. Fierer. 2015. Consistent responses of soil microbial communities to elevated nutrient inputs in grasslands across the globe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112:10967-10972

Keeler, B. L., S. E. Hobbie, and L. Kellogg. 2009. Effects of long-term nitrogen additions on soil and litter microbial enzyme activity in eight forested and grassland sites – implications for litter and SOM decomposition. Ecosystems 12:1-15

Mueller, K., S. E. Hobbie, Tilman, D. and P. B. Reich. 2013. Effects of plant diversity, N fertilization, and elevated carbon dioxide on grassland soil N cycling in a long-term experiment. Global Change Biology 19:1249–1261

Neff, J. C., S. E. Hobbie, and P. M. Vitousek. 2000. Nutrient and mineralogical control on dissolved organic C, N and P fluxes and stoichiometry in Hawaiian soils. Biogeochemistry 51:283-302

Riggs, C. E., S. E. Hobbie, E. M. Bach, K. S. Hofmockel, and C. E. Kazanski. 2015. Nitrogen addition changes grassland soil organic matter decomposition. Biogeochemistry 125:203-219.

Riggs, C. E. and S. E. Hobbie. 2016. Mechanisms driving the soil organic matter decomposition response to nitrogen enrichment in grassland soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 99:54-65.

Stevens, C. J., E. M. Lind, Y. Hautier, W. S. Harpole, E. T. Borer, S. Hobbie, E. W. Seabloom, L. Ladwig, J. D. Bakker, C. Chu, S. Collins, K. F. Davies, J. Firn, H. Hillebrand, K. J. L. Pierre, A. MacDougall, B. Melbourne, R. L. McCulley, J. Morgan, J. L. Orrock, S. M. Prober, A. C. Risch, M. Schuetz, and P. D. Wragg. 2015. Anthropogenic nitrogen deposition predicts local grassland primary production worldwide. Ecology 96:1459-1465

Templer, P. and 24 others. 2012. Sinks for Nitrogen Inputs in Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Meta-Analysis of 15N Tracer Field Studies. Ecology 93:1816-1829