Avni Malhotra

Avni Malhotra

Postdoctoral Research Associate


My research focuses on multi-scale effects of disturbance on ecosystem structure and function. In the past, I have investigated the influence of drought, permafrost thaw or warming on above and belowground plant dynamics, greenhouse gas fluxes and litter decomposition. I am also interested in regional to global-scale drivers of carbon sequestration. My toolkit draws from ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, plant ecology and systems thinking and I specialize in carbon-rich systems such as northern peatlands and permafrost features. 



At ORNL, I am studying warming and elevated CO2 effects on fine-root traits and their link to peatland carbon function at SPRUCE (Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental change). I am also working on a global data synthesis project addressing abiotic and biotic controls of ecosystem respiration in peatlands, in collaboration with colleagues at the Pacific Northwest National Lab.



Malhotra A, Moore TR, Limpens J, Roulet NT. (2018) Post-thaw variability in litter decomposition best explained by microtopography at an ice-rich permafrost peatland. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 50:1, e1415622


Harden, JW, Hugelius, G, Ahlström, A, Blankinship, JC, Bond-Lamberty, Lawrence C, Loisel J, Malhotra A, Jackson RB, Ogle S, Phillips C, Ryals R, Todd-Brown K, Vargas R, Vergara SE, Cotrufo MF, Keiluweit M, Heckman KA, Crow SE, Silver WL, DeLonge M, and Nave L (2017) Networking our science to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter. Global Change Biology, 24:705–718, doi: 10.1111/gcb.13896 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13896/full

Loisel, J., A. Malhotra, and C. Phillips (2017), A new platform for managing soil carbon and soil health, Eos, 98


Griffiths NA, Hanson PJ, Iversen CM, Malhotra A, McFarlane KJ, Norby RJ, Ricciuto DM, Sebestyen SD, Walker AP, Ward E, Warren JM, Weston DJ (2017) Temporal and spatial variation in peatland carbon cycling and implications for interpreting responses of an ecosystem-scale warming experiment. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 81:1668–1688, doi:10.2136/sssaj2016.12.0422


Walker AP, KR Carter, L Gu, PJ Hanson, A Malhotra, RJ Norby, SD Sebestyen, SD Wullschleger, DJ Weston (2017), Biophysical drivers of seasonal variability in Sphagnum gross primary production in a northern temperate bog, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122, 1078–1097, doi:10.1002/2016JG003711


Malhotra A, Roulet NT, Wilson P, Giroux-Bougard X, Harris LI (2016) Ecohydrological feedbacks in peatlands: an empirical test of the relationship among vegetation, microtopography and water table. Ecohydrology 9: 1346–1357, doi: 10.1002/eco.1731


Malhotra A, Roulet NT. (2015) Environmental correlates of peatland carbon fluxes in a thawing landscape: do transitional thaw stages matter? Biogeosciences, 12, 3119-3130, doi:10.5194/bg-12-3119-2015