Northeastern sand plains and pine barrens

Though most of the northeastern United States is forested, unique pockets of deep, sandy, soil give rise to pine barrens, sand plains, and other unique ecosystems. Our local Albany Pine Bush and other such habitats harbor a variety of rare and threatened plants and animals.

I work to both understand the natural history of these special ecosystems and also to design effective management strategies to conserve their unique biodiversity in the face of global change.

My colleagues and I have revealed the existence and importance of biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, in northeastern pine barrens and sand plains. Biocrusts are well-known in arid biomes, but they are also widespread in the well-drained, sandy, soils of Albany’s Pine Bush Preserve and a variety of other locations in the temperate northeast (Corbin and Thiet 2020, Gilbert and Corbin 2019). Our work continues to better understand how biocrusts influence the function and stability of our region’s sand plains and pine barrens.