Christine L Goodale

Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Environmental Science


I am an ecosystem ecologist, studying how carbon, water, and nutrients - especially nitrogen - cycle through forest ecosystems and affect processes such as forest carbon storage and catchment retention of nitrogen. I also examine how these processes are impacted by a range of human activities, including air pollution, climate change, and land-use change. Tools include whole-ecosystem experiments, stable isotopes, and ecosystem and global models.  I also direct Cornell’s multi-departmental Graduate Program in Cross-Scale Biogeochemistry and Climate (, supported by NSF-IGERT and Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. I teach or co-teach in BioEE 1610 Introduction to Ecology and the Environment, BioEE 4780 Ecosystem Biology and Global Change, and BioEE 6680 Principles of Biogeochemistry.

Research Focus

My research centers on understanding the effects of human activities on forest ecosystems, as well as the role of forests in sustaining clean water and regulating atmospheric greenhouse gases. I study processes that affect forest cycling and storage of carbon and nitrogen, focusing on how these cycles interact and respond to human-driven changes in climate, land use, and atmospheric chemistry, with particular emphasis on the response of ecosystems to atmospheric deposition of N from air pollution. Nitrogen emitted through fossil fuel combustion and agricultural activities eventually deposits onto downwind ecosystems: much of the work in my lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which ecosystems retain or remove these elevated N inputs, and the consequences of these N inputs on ecosystem processes. These consequences include acidification of soils and streams, shifts in species composition, changes in the rates of growth and decomposition, and production of smog and multiple greenhouse gases that have large effects on future climate. Working with a range of collaborators, my lab group uses a range of tools to address many of these processes, at scales ranging from microbial decomposition in soil cores, to plot-scale measurements of isotopic tracers, to whole-catchment recovery from acid rain, to modeled dynamics of N effects on regional carbon storage and the earth climate system.


  • Lovett, GM, CL Goodale, SV Ollinger, CB Fuss, AP Ouimette, and GE Likens. 2018. Nutrient retention during ecosystem succession:  a revised conceptual model. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
  • Goodale, CL. 2017. Multi-year fate of a 15N tracer in a mixed deciduous forest: retention, redistribution, and differences by mycorrhizal association. Global Change Biology 23(2):867-880.
  • Greaver TL, CM Clark, JE Compton, D Vallano, AF Talhelm, CP Weaver, LE Band, JS Baron, EA Davidson, CL Tague, E Felker-Quinn, JA Lynch, JD Herrick, L Liu, CL Goodale, KJ Novak, and RA Haeuber. 2016. Key ecological responses to nitrogen are altered by climate change. Nature Climate Change 6: 836–843.
  • Goodale, CL, G Fredriksen, *MS Weiss, CE McCalley, JP Sparks, and SA Thomas. 2015. Soil processes drive seasonal variation in retention of 15N tracers in a deciduous forest catchment. Ecology 96(10):2653-2668.
  • ᶲWexler, S, CL Goodale, K McGuire, SW Bailey, and PM Groffman. 2014. Isotopic signals of summer denitrification in a northern hardwood forested catchment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - USA 411(46):16413-16418.
  • *Thomas, RQ, S Zaehle, P Templer, and CL Goodale. 2013. Global patterns of nitrogen limitation: confronting two global biogeochemical models with observations. Global Change Biology 19(10):2986-2998.
  • *Melvin, AM, JW Lichstein, and CL Goodale. 2013. Forest liming increases forest floor carbon and nitrogen stocks in a mixed hardwood forest.  Ecological Applications 23(8):1962-1975.
  • Pinder, RW, EA Davidson, CL Goodale, TL Greaver, JD Herrick, and L Liu. 2012. Climate change impacts of US reactive nitrogen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109(20):7671-7675.
  • Templer, PH, RW Pinder, and CL Goodale. 2012. Impacts of nitrogen deposition on greenhouse gas fluxes for terrestrial ecosystems of North America.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10(10):547-553.
  • Lovett, GM, and CL Goodale. 2011. A new conceptual model of nitrogen saturation based on experimental nitrogen addition to an oak forest. Ecosystems 14:615-631.
  • *Thomas, RQ, CD Canham, KC Weathers, and CL Goodale. 2010. Increased tree carbon storage in response to nitrogen deposition in the US.  Nature Geoscience 3:13-17.

(* = graduate student, ᶲ = postdoctoral associate in research group)

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